PAIN 2: Chapter 4: Collaboration

Not twenty minutes after Michelle, Jason and Alex left Frannie’s apartment building, Frannie and Tyler returned.  They parked in the lot at the rear of the building, and as they were walking through the back yard, Pam, the girl next door, called over to them.

“Frannie!  You just missed three visitors.”

“Did you get their names?”

“No, they left as soon as I told them that I didn’t know where you were.  One was a girl about your age, maybe a year or two older.  The other two were guys.  They looked like high school kids.  They were cute, too.  Hehe.”

“Haha!  Thanks, Pam.  I don’t recognize them, but you can have dibs on the two guys.”

“GAH!!!  My boyfriend would never forgive me!”

Pam went back to reading her book as Frannie and Tyler walked up the back steps to her apartment.  All this time Tyler was silent, but as soon as the door closed, he took Frannie by the shoulder and turned her around.

“Frannie, I can’t stay here any longer.  You didn’t recognize the ‘visitors’ and neither did I.  I have to get out of here, but first, I need a haircut and a shave.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?  Where will you go, Tyler?”

“I can’t tell you.  I don’t want to put you in any more danger.  The less you know, the safer you’ll be.  Can you cut my hair, please?”

“Get a towel,” was all Frannie said in response.  As Tyler was getting a towel, Frannie got her scissors and a comb.  When Tyler returned, she had him move a chair to the middle of the kitchen floor and sit down.  Thirty minutes later, Frannie was finished.  She got a mirror and held it up for Tyler to see.

“That looks great!  All I need now is a shave and I’ll be ready to travel.  Could you trim my beard as close as possible?”  She did, and to the approval of Tyler.  “All I need now is a razor and some shaving cream.  Could you give me a ride to a drug store?”

“Sure, let’s clean up and we can go.”  So they swept the hair and put it into a trash bag.  As they were leaving, Tyler put on a hoodie and pulled the hood onto his head.  He also took the trash bag with him.  As they went to the parking lot in the rear of the building, Tyler put the trash bag in the neighbor’s trash can.  It was dark now, so Pam had gone in, leaving no one to see him make the deposit.

As they were driving, Tyler asked Frannie to pull into the parking lot up ahead.  She did and Tyler went into the Goodwill Store.  After a couple of passes of the store, he saw what he was looking for: a black suit.  The trousers were a size larger than he wears, but a belt would hold them up fine.  The jacket fit well enough.  He also got a black belt, white shirt and a black tie.  Finally, he got a used suitcase with wheels, small enough to carry on the bus and store in the overhead rack.  He paid for his purchases with cash, $19.80, and returned to the car.  Next they went to a drugstore and Tyler bought a razor and shave cream.  Again, he paid with cash.  In the strip mall with the drug store, Tyler saw an Army-Navy Surplus Store.  He stopped in and had a black plastic name tag engraved that read in white letters, “Elder Matthew”.  Once the purchases were made, they returned to Frannie’s place.

Forty-five minutes later, Tyler was clean-shaven, dressed in black and white, and packed.  “Frannie, I have one more request.  Would you give me a ride to the bus station?”

“Of course, silly.  Where will you go?”

“To protect you, I can’t say.  I think the less you know, the safer you’ll be.  It’s been a week since Jordan was arrested so, dressed as a Mormon, it should be safe enough for me to travel by bus.  If you get a call with the Caller ID blocked, it’ll probably be me.  And here…”  He handed her an envelope.  “This is to thank you for helping me this past week.  It would probably be best to deposit most of it in your bank account.”

“My god, Tyler!  There’s a thousand dollars in here!”

“It’s just my way of saying thanks.”

Tyler had Frannie stop the car a block away from the bus station, just in case the police were monitoring the drop-off lane.

= = =

The next morning, Sunday, Michelle sent an email to a Yahoo account.  In it, she told of what transpired in Phoenix.  She also included her expenses.  Three hours later her phone rang.

“Hello.”

“Michelle, I read your report.  We have a team in place and ready to take over in Phoenix.  As usual, you and your team have done a wonderful job.  The Phoenix team has your report as well, and they might be contacting you directly if they need more information.”

“Thank you, sir.  I’ll be ready if they call.  Is there anything else that we can do here?”

“Yes.  Have Alex and Jason watch Paul Wilson for any signs of nervousness.  It might be good to have Jason read him once or twice a day, just to be safe.”

“Sir, do you think Jordan Wilson is involved in this?”

“Not directly, but if Jordan finds anything out, he’s likely to tell the only friendly face he still knows.  Jason’s read showed that Jordan’s afraid to talk to anyone in Phoenix since his arrest.  He’s being a bit paranoid, but that might work out to our advantage; his only friend and confidant right now is his brother Paul.  Staying with Paul could help us.”

“Oh right.  That makes sense.  Sir, will the Phoenix team call me or will I just be on standby?”

“Just on standby, Michelle.  Let Jason and Alex know, too.”

“Will do, sir.  Is there anything else?”

“Yes.  I’ve deposited your expenses in your account.  Thank you for being proactive on this.”

“That was fast!  Thank you, sir!”

“Have a good day, Michelle.  I have to get back to my family now.”

“Goodbye, sir.”

After she hung up, she immediately called Jason.  The call went to voice mail and she left a message for him to call her.  Next she dialed Alex’s number and he picked up on the third ring.

“Good morning, Michelle!  Did you just call Jason?”

“Yes, are you clairvoyant now?”

“Haha!  I wish!  No, I’m at Jason’s house.  We were in the pool and didn’t get to his phone fast enough.  Then I had to look through the towels to find my phone and…”

“I get the picture,” Michelle cut in.  “Can you put me on speaker so I can talk with both of you?”

“Oh sure… sorry about the rambling.  Jason’s on the line now.”

“Guys, I just talked with the boss and he said to let you know that you did a great job.  He has a team in Phoenix that will pick up where we left off.  If the Phoenix team calls, I’ll let you know what’s happening, OK?”

“That sounds great, Michelle,” Jason said.

“Is there any chance that we’ll be called in to help the Phoenix team?” I asked.

“It’s not likely, Alex, but it could happen.  I know you guys started this case, but the same thing would happen to them if Phoenix started a case that moved to Tucson.  Look on the bright side… you don’t have a two-hour commute each way.”

Jason laughed, but I didn’t really find it that humorous.  “OK, Michelle.  I understand.”

“There’s something else that the boss asked me to pass along.  Keep an eye on Paul.  Jason, he wants you to read Paul one or two times a day in case he gets information from Jordan.”

“That’ll be easy enough on school days, but he and I aren’t buds, so I wouldn’t normally see him on weekends.”

“OK, but if you read him during the week, you can find out where he’ll be on the weekend and ‘just happen to meet’.”

“Michelle, you’re devious!  I like that about you.  Hehe.”

“I’ll be glad when this is over,” I said.  “I don’t like spying on my friend like this.”

“I can appreciate that, Alex, but sometimes we have to do things we don’t like to help our friends.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” I agreed.

“OK, well you guys can get back to skinny dipping.  I’ll call you if I hear anything else,” Michelle said, and then she hung up.

My chin dropped.  “How did she know?”

“Haha!  She didn’t.  It was a lucky guess.  She knows us soooo well.  Let’s go for a swim.”

= = =

At the same time, at the Arizona State University gym, Jordan was working out when another guy asked him if he’d spot for him.  It’s common courtesy to accept these requests, so Jordan walked over to the weight bench and stood at the barbell, ready to help the guy if he had trouble.  The guy had just finished putting a hundred pounds on the bar when Jordan walked up.

“Hi, I’m Jordan,” he said to the guy.

“Hey, Jordan, thanks for the assist.  I’m Donny.”  And he put out his hand.  Jordan took it and shook hands, but he didn’t notice that the handshake lasted ten seconds… longer than usual, to say the least.  He also didn’t realize that he’d been hypnotized for the second time in two days.  Donny reclined on the weight bench and got in position.  Jordan stood woodenly at his head.

“Jordan, watch for me and make sure I don’t get in trouble with the weights.”

“OK,” Jordan responded.

“Put your hands on the bar for a minute.”

Jordan complied.

“Jordan, you said Tyler wore a ring on his right hand.  Think about that ring now.”  As Jordan is thinking about Tyler’s ring, Donny slid his hand over and made contact with Jordan’s hand on the bar.  “Is that the ring you’re picturing now?”

“Yes.”

“Jordan, when I count to three, you’ll remember spotting for me for three sets of 10 reps of bench presses.  One, two, three.  OK, Jordan, that’s it for me.  Would you like me to spot for you?”

“No, thanks.  I was just finishing up.  I think it’s time for me to hit the showers.”

“That sounds like a plan.  I’m finished, too,” Donny replies.  Together, the men walk back to the locker room to shower and change.  As they’re removing their gear, they can’t help but sneak glances at each other.

“You know, we could conserve water if we used the same shower,” Jordan suggests.  Donny smiles and agrees.  He’s smiling because he knows he’s not causing this to happen; Jordan is not hypnotized now.

They locked their gear in their lockers and walked back to the shower stalls.  They pulled the outer curtain closed and hung up their towels.  Both of them were starting to chub.  Jordan turned on the shower and adjusted the temperature before they stepped in under the spray of warm water.  As if on cue, the men took each other in their arms and kissed for the first time.

By now, they were hard and ground their crotches together.  They took their washcloths and soaped them up before washing each other.  They saved their crotches for last.  As they hugged, they also slid their washcloths up and down the other’s erection, building to a crescendo.  As the men came, they had difficulty remaining silent, but they manage to succeed.  It would be a disaster to be caught like this.

They hugged as they came down from their shared climax.  They were holding each other up.  As they recovered, they again rinsed off.

“Whoa!  We have to do that again!”

“I’d be up for that.”

The men dried off and wrapped their towels around their waists before returning to their lockers.  Once dressed, they traded phone numbers and snuck a quick kiss before exiting the gym.  When they stepped outside, they parted ways.  Jordan went back to the dorm and Donny went to meet Jennifer, the other member of his team.

“Hmmm… forty minutes to shower and change?  Something tells me you got lucky, Don.”

“Hehe.  He seduced me!  It’s not my fault!  Anyway, now I have a reason to see him again.  Give me your hand.”

Jennifer put her hand in Donny’s and he fed her the image of Tyler’s ring.

“Now we have to go to Frannie’s apartment and see if Tyler is there.”

They got into Jennifer’s car and drove off.  Twenty minutes later they pulled up to Frannie’s building.  They rang the bell and waited.  A moment later they heard her coming down the stairs.

“Who’s there?” she asked through the door.

“It’s Jennifer.  I’m with my boyfriend Donny.  We’re looking for some information.”

Frannie opened the door and looked at the couple.  “Were you guys here yesterday?” she asked.

“No, that must have been someone else,” Jennifer said as she put out her hand to shake.  Frannie took the offered hand and then accepted Donny’s hand as well.

As Donny let go, he said, “We were never here.  Go back to your apartment and continue with what you were doing.  When you get back in your apartment and close the door, you will wake up and feel rested.”

Frannie closed the door and started back up the stairs.  Jennifer and Donny exited the building and went back to their car.

“What’s up, Donny?  I thought we were going to talk with her.”

“I read her.  Tyler left last night.  He cut his hair and shaved.  He was wearing a black suit and tie and a white shirt.  He was trying to pass himself off as a Mormon missionary.  She dropped him off at Buckeye and 24th Street and he didn’t tell her where he was going.  Do you think you could find the gate he used?”

“Probably.  What time did she drop him off?”

“Around 9:15.”

“That was only fifteen hours ago and I’m sure his bus didn’t leave right away, so I should be able to figure it out.  I’m still getting residue from his ring here.  Let’s get over to the bus station and see what we can find.”

Twenty minutes later they were pulling into the Greyhound Bus terminal near Sky Harbor International Airport.  Security was fairly lax at the bus station, so they doubted that Tyler had any trouble getting a ticket.  Jennifer walked around the terminal until her ‘spidey-senses’, as she called them, started to tingle.

“He left from Gate 6.  Let’s check the schedule and see how many buses used that gate in the last sixteen hours.”  We checked the monitors and only one bus uses Gate 6: the bus to Tucson.

“Jen, he might have gotten off at any stop along the way.  I have the schedule for Tucson and it lists all the stops.  Are you up for a road trip?”

“Yes.  I’ll have to check all the terminals to find out where he exited.  How many stops are there?”

“He must have taken the 10:40 bus last night.  That’s a nonstop to Tucson.”

“That makes it easy!  Let’s go!”

“Ummm… that’s gonna be four hours of driving time.  Drive me back to my dorm so I can get the book for my eight o’clock class tomorrow morning.”

“You’re in your third year and you have an eight o’clock class on a Monday?  I thought those class times were used to mess with freshmen, not juniors!”

“Get off my case!  I signed up late.”

“What course is it?”

“Elizabethan Literature.”

“My god, Don!  That’s an elective!  Hahaha!”

“Kindly consider the middle finger of my left hand, extended in a vertical position, perpendicular to the horizon.”

“You say the sweetest things!  OK – we’re off to your dorm.  In the meantime, why don’t you call Michelle and let her know that we’re coming?  While you’re at it, ask her where the Greyhound station is located in Tucson.”

= = =

The 10:40 bus from Phoenix arrived in Tucson at 1:35 am.  After storing a package in one of the lockers, Tyler Nelson hailed a cab and took it to a nearby inexpensive Mom & Pop motel.  He checked in and asked for a seven o’clock wake up call.  When the clerk stopped snickering, he offered to rent him an alarm clock for a dollar… with a ten dollar deposit.  He walked to the local convenience store and bought one for eight dollars.  When he returned, he set the alarm and went to sleep.

At seven o’clock he woke up and, after showering and dressing, he packed the black suit in the suitcase and checked out.  He stopped into a second-hand store and bought an old balloon-tire bike for $28.19, a used lock and chain for $3.50, and a worn backpack for $3.00.  From there he rode the bike to the bus station and removed the package from the locker.  After locking himself in a stall in the men’s room, he transferred the contents of the package to his backpack.  On his way out of the men’s room, he threw the packing material into the waste bin.  Once outside, he rode off…

= = =

Michelle, Jason and I were waiting near the bus station for Jennifer and Donny.  We waved at the people from Phoenix, but we couldn’t get their attention.  I used my power and moved Donny’s head and aimed it towards us as Jason and Michelle waved.  When Donny waved back, I released his head.  As they got closer, Donny called out, “Who’s the wise guy psychokinetic?”

“That would be me,” I said.

“That is such a cool power!  I’d love to have it!”

“I’ve told Jason that I think being a telepath is even cooler,” I responded.

Michelle and Jennifer looked at us impatiently and cleared their throats.  “Can we get started?  Why is it that supposed men always act like little boys?”  That was Jennifer.

“I’m sorry, guys.  I’d tell her to shut up, but she’s my driver today.”

“We understand,” said Jason.  “We have the same problem.”

While the guys talked, Jennifer went to find traces of Tyler; Michelle went with her.

“He came in here, but he must have taken a taxi,” Jennifer stated.  “I think I know which way he went.”  They walked back over to us and Jennifer tossed her keys to Donny and said, “I’m riding with Michelle.  You guys can follow us.”

Jason and I got into Jennifer’s car with Donny behind the wheel and slowly took off after Michelle and Jennifer.  We pulled into a cheap motel and waited while the girls got out and talked with the owners.  In a couple of minutes, Jennifer stepped out and waved at Donny to come in.  It seemed that the bums wanted us to pay them to answer our questions.  We followed Donny and as he walked in he pulled out his wallet and shook the man’s hand.  Then he put the wallet back in his pocket as the man told us everything we wanted to know… for free.  Donny and Jason have the coolest powers!

It turns out that the guy left on foot about five hours earlier.  Jennifer asked to see the room that Tyler was in.  (He was using the alias ‘Matthew Stevens’; he stole his friend’s ID.)  From the room, Jennifer got a fresh fix on him and we thanked the motel owner as we drove back in the direction we came.  Michelle stopped at the second-hand store.  This time Jennifer and Donny stepped in and easily got the information they sought.  Jennifer also got a new fix on Tyler.  We tracked him back to the bus station and into the terminal.  We checked to see if he bought another ticket, but that didn’t pan out.  He was still in the area, but he had a bicycle now.

Jennifer was losing Tyler’s ‘scent’, or whatever it was that she was following.  She knew which door Tyler used to enter the bus station, and that he used the same door to exit, but now it seemed that she’d lost him…

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