About thirty minutes into the two-hour drive, we were running out of things to talk about. When Jason started singing ‘99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,’ Michelle pulled off the road and stopped.
“One more note and we’re turning around. Understood?”
“Yes ma’am,” we said in unison.
“I’m serious! If you want music, I have satellite radio for that. It has everything from ‘a cappella’ to ‘zydeco’. So you guys decide… Phoenix or home.”
“We’ll be good, Michelle, we promise,” Jason told her.
“Fine,” she said and merged back into traffic. Then she looked at Paul in the rearview mirror. “Paul, have you visited your brother in Phoenix before?”
“Yeah, I went with Mom and Dad when we drove Jordan to school this year and last, and once when Mom, Dad and I came up for a family weekend last year.”
“From what I’ve heard, you and Jordan are pretty tight.”
“Yeah. Jordan has always been there for me.”
Suddenly Michelle said, “Oh shit… I think I have a flat tire.” And at the same time, we felt the car start to vibrate. Michelle did the right thing; she eased off the throttle and edged the car over to the side of the road. We pulled well off the road and Michelle put her four-way flashers on. We all piled out and went to the rear of the car, waiting for Michelle to open the trunk so we could get her tire iron and jack out. Michelle popped her trunk and let out a sigh.
“Could things get any worse?”
“What?” Jason asked.
“I don’t have my jack in here. I took it out yesterday when I was sorting out the stuff in my trunk and I forgot to put it back in.”
“Do you still have the tire iron?” I asked.
“I think I can help out,” I said. “Look, the flat is on the rear right side. If you three can lean on the front left corner of the car, I should be able to get the tire changed.”
Michelle and Jason picked up on my plan right away. We just had to get Paul out of sight of the flat so I could use my power to lift the car and change the tire.
“Let me loosen the lug nuts first.” They came loose easily. “OK, now you three lean on the front left bumper. That’s it. Now just hold it there.” Paul couldn’t see me using my power to levitate this corner of the car enough to get the tire off. The spare slid on just as easily and I started getting the lug nuts back in place. “OK, you can let it back down now,” I said, and the three of them eased off the bumper. As they did so, I lowered the car and fully tightened the lug nuts.
“Wow! That was cool, Alex! How’d you know that would work?”
“It’s a simple lever, Paul. I’m just glad that the car was long enough to let that work.”
Michelle and Jason also congratulated me and Michelle even gave me a kiss on the cheek as she was handing me a wet-nap to clean my hands. Hehe. I blushed. In less than fifteen minutes, we were on the road again. Fortunately, the rest of the drive was routine.
We got to Jordan’s dorm and, as luck would have it, there was a service center across the street from it. Paul and I volunteered to take the flat over to be repaired. The mechanic said it would take about thirty minutes before they could look at it, but it would only take a few minutes to fix. It was only noon, and the place was open until six, so we said we’d be back to pick it up in an hour.
When we got back to the car, Jason and Michelle were waiting and we all walked over to Jordan’s dorm. Security was pretty good. We didn’t have student IDs, so Jordan had to come down to sign us in. I was surprised when he knew both Michelle and Jason. I found out that they both knew him from school; Jason from West Side High School and Michelle from Arizona State, where she graduated just last year.
We followed him back to his second-floor room. His roommate wasn’t there; he was off with his girlfriend, we supposed. After we were settled in, and the pleasantries were over, Paul told Jordan that we were here to do some shopping (the excuse we gave him for coming here), and he tagged along so he could see him again. Jason gave Paul a bro-hug and thanked him for making the trip.
“Paul, I was glad when you Skyped me last night with the news. It’s been a week since I’ve seen a friendly face.”
Michelle broke in, “Who’s been unfriendly, Jordan?”
“Aw, it’s just the situation I’ve found myself in this week, Michelle. My friend, Tyler Nelson, asked me to hold a package for him while he went to visit his mom. He was afraid someone would steal it from his apartment if he left it there, so, naturally, I said I would. That was last Sunday. First thing Monday the cops came in with dogs and a warrant, looking for Tyler. That scared the heck out of me! Right away, the dog went to the package. I told the police that it was Tyler’s and I was just holding it for him, but when they opened it and found a half kilo of weed, they took me in. Now I’m up on charges of possession with intent to distribute. I know I could get out of this if Tyler would just show up… but I doubt he will.”
“How do you know Tyler, Jordan?”
“I met him at a dance club at the start of the semester. He seemed like a cool dude. He even asked me up to his apartment a few times and I invited him here, too. I wish I could find him. I know he could get these charges dropped.”
“Maybe, but wouldn’t that just put him in the hot seat?” Jason asked.
Jordan sighed and said, “Yeah…”
“Is there anything that we could do to help you out, Jordan?” That was Michelle’s question.
“Sure, hehe. Find Tyler and get me off.”
Michelle looked at her watch and then at me. “Alex, it’s been about an hour. Can you and Paul go pick up my tire, please?” And she reached into her purse for her car keys and some money. “Here are my keys and twenty dollars. Could you put the tire back in my trunk and get some sodas on your way back?”
“Sure. C’mon, Paul.” I took the items and we left.
With Paul out of the room, Jason went to work. Jordan was sitting on his bed, leaning on his knees with his hands clasped in front of him. Jason started by putting his hand on Jordan’s hands. No sooner did he make contact than he had Jordan hypnotized. They both were still for a few seconds and then Jason spoke.
“Tyler was your boyfriend?”
“Did you know he was dealing?”
“I suspected, but I didn’t know for certain until he gave me the package to hold for him.”
“So when the cops opened it was when you found out what it contained?”
“No. Tyler told me on Sunday when he dropped it off.”
“Was Tyler your boyfriend on Sunday?”
“No. We broke it off about a week before that, but we were still good friends.”
“Where do you think Tyler went?”
“Initially, he was going to his mom’s place in Florida, but once I was arrested, I really don’t know.”
“Why is that?”
“He was supposed to fly out Monday afternoon. I was arrested Monday morning and I gave him up… I was scared. I’ve never been arrested before.”
“Do you know any of Tyler’s other friends and where they live?”
“I know a few of them, but I only know where one of them lives.”
“Did you tell this to the police?”
“No. They didn’t ask me.”
As Jordan stared at the wall, Jason released Jordan’s hands and looked at Michelle. “That’s about all he has for us. He can’t hear us now. Do you need to know any more?”
“Just those three questions we talked about yesterday afternoon.”
Jason took Jordan’s hands again and asked, “Were you selling drugs?”
“No. I was too afraid.”
“Does Tyler wear any jewelry?”
“Yes. He wears his high school class ring.”
“Is that what you are picturing now?”
“Do you know Tyler’s supplier?”
Just then, the room phone rang. Michelle picked up. She spoke briefly and hung up the phone. “That was Alex and Paul at the security desk. They’re waiting to be signed back in. Jordan has to go down and get them.”
“I think we have enough… plus, I did a complete download in case we need any more information.”
With that, Jason grabbed Jordan’s hands and said, “When I count to three, you will wake up, feel well rested, and not remember this conversation. Do you understand?”
“One, Two, Three.”
Jordan blinked a couple of times and became aware of his surroundings. “Whoa! Did I fall asleep?”
“Yes,” Michelle answered, “but just for a moment. The phone must have woken you. Paul and Alex need to be signed in again.”
“Oh, right. Let’s go get them.”
= = =
On the way to the security desk, Jason held Michelle’s hand and force-fed the information to her that he just got from Jordan. By the time they got to Paul and me, Michelle changed the plan a bit.
“Jordan, we haven’t had anything to eat since this morning. If I remember, there’s a McDonald’s not too far from here. Why don’t you come along with us and get out of your room to get your mind off your troubles? I’m buying.”
“I think I’d like that, to tell you the truth.”
So we went back to Michelle’s car. Michelle and Jason rode in the front seat and I rode in the back with Jordan and Paul. I still didn’t know what Michelle and Jason had planned, but I was ready to go along with it anyway.
It turned out that Michelle knew where Tyler Nelson lived from Jason’s download. From living in Phoenix, she also knew a few stores in the area near Tyler’s place. She drove to one of them, McDonald’s, next to the GameStop that Jordan and Tyler used to hang at. She parked and as we were exiting the car, Jordan froze.
“Hey guys,” he almost whispered, “the guy over to my right in the tank top and shorts is one of Tyler’s friends. Let’s talk with him.”
Before we could answer, Jordan started walking over to him, with Paul on his tail. The guy saw Jordan coming and started to walk away. Jason whispered to me, “Alex, stop him.”
I mentally reached out and grabbed the guy. I stopped him dead in his tracks, but it looked as though he stopped on his own. Naturally, he was confused, just as my dad had been when I stopped him from hitting Luke. He wasn’t in pain; he just couldn’t move a muscle.
Jordan walked over to him. “George, have you seen Tyler today?”
“Dude, I don’t know how you’re doing this to me, but when I get loose, I’m gonna hurt you!”
By now, the rest of us were there and we surrounded George. Because he was wearing a tank top, Jason was able to put his hand on George’s bare shoulder. “That’s not a very friendly attitude, Geor- no… it’s Jorge, isn’t it? That must be why you were walking away; you didn’t know we were talking to you.” Jason hypnotized him and nodded for me to release him. A moment later, he had his arm around Jorge’s shoulder. “Look, we know you’re a busy guy, but we really need to know where Tyler is. If you could help us, we’d be forever in your debt.”
Surprisingly, Jorge told us. “I saw him this morning at the coffee shop over there on the corner.”
Now Michelle spoke up, “Jorge, do you know where Tyler is staying?”
“I can’t tell you that! I don’t know you!”
“I understand,” Jason said. “Is it the place you’re thinking about now?”
“Yes. I mean NO! How are you getting into my head like this?”
“I really don’t know, Jorge. But that’s OK… in a few minutes you won’t remember any of this.” And then he whispered something in Jorge’s ear, and as Jason walked away, Jorge just stood there in a trance.
As Jason approached Jordan, he again whispered something in his ear, and when he was finished, he moved on to Paul, and, for a third time, whispered something in his ear.
A moment later, we walked into McDonald’s. Jason blocked his Caller ID and called Jorge’s phone. When he answered, Jason said, “Release” and hung up. I looked out the window and saw that Jorge started moving as though nothing had happened. Surprisingly, to me anyway, Paul and Jordan seemed to be more than robots again, too. Jason just smiled at me. Michelle said that she was buying. We all cheered!
After ordering, we found a table large enough for the five of us and sat down. While eating, I engaged Paul and Jordan in small talk while Jason downloaded what he learned from Jorge to Michelle, and then, while Michelle picked up the conversation, he downloaded the info from both Jordan and Jorge to me.
By now, it was two o’clock. When we finished eating, we drove Paul and Jordan back to the dorm so they could catch up. The three of us said we were going shopping and would be back in about three hours. Once we were back in the car, it was as if the floodgates had opened and we couldn’t stop talking.
After the first ten minutes I said, “Jason, I have to ask. Does Paul know that Jordan’s gay?”
“Not yet, so we can’t out him, understood?”
“Understood.” Then I asked, “Who is Matt Stevens?
Michelle volunteered. “Jordan only knew the address of one of Tyler’s friends. That was Matt Stevens. He lives at 1209 Dessert Canyon Trail. That’s where we’re going now.”
“What do we expect to find there?” I asked.
“That’s a good question. The place I really want to see is where Tyler is supposed to be living now. We’ll get there too, but this place in on the way.”
= = =
We got to Matt Stevens’ place a few minutes later. We pulled up to a decent sized apartment building, got out of the car, and stepped inside. Michelle rang the doorbell labeled ‘M. Stevens’. We lucked out again. A voice came on the intercom asking, “Who’s there?”
“This is Michelle from the management office. I’m sorry to bother you, but I have to ask you some questions about your rent payments.”
“What? I’m paid up! I send the check at the same time every month. I’ve never had a problem before.”
“Mr. Stevens, it’s nothing like that. We could be done in only a few minutes if you’d just come down.”
“I’m expecting an important client. Could you come up here?”
“Of course, sir.” And we heard the buzzer sound, indicating that the door lock was released. We walked in and got on the elevator; Michelle pressed the button for the fifth floor. We exited the elevator and walked to apartment 508. The door was open just a crack and Michelle knocked twice. “Mr. Stevens? We’re here.”
“We? Who’s with you?”
“Just a couple of teenagers who help out in the office.”
“Fine, come in.”
Michelle walked in first, I followed behind her, and then Jason entered last. I was ready to help if anything started. I was shaking in my boots, to say the least! Fortunately, Stevens was alone. Michelle shook Stevens’ hand. Then she introduced me, and then Jason. Each of us, in turn, shook Stevens’ hand. When Jason shook his hand, he hypnotized him and nodded to Michelle.
“Mr. Stevens, where is Tyler Nelson?”
“I’m not sure. He called me a couple of times yesterday and the day before.”
“Would he answer if you called him back?”
“Sure. He knows my number, so that wouldn’t be a problem.”
“What do you know about his ‘business’?”
“I know he’s scared to death about what Marty is going to do to him for letting the cops get his ‘inventory’.”
“I take it that Marty is the boss. Do you work for Marty, too?”
“Does Jorge Vargas work for Marty?”
“Maybe you know him as George.”
“Oh, George. Yes. He works for Marty.”
“Where can I find Marty?”
“I don’t know. I only have his cell phone number. He always sets up a meet for delivery of product and to pick up the cash.”
“Where do you normally meet Marty?”
“It changes, but it’s always in a parking lot, usually in Tempe, but occasionally in Mesa.”
“What is Marty’s number?”
“What is Tyler’s new number?”
“What the heck, we’re doing so well her, let’s go for broke. What’s George’s number?”
The questioning went on for another ten minutes or so and then Jason whispered something in his ear and Matt went back and sat down on the couch. Michelle, Jason and I walked out. As we were riding down in the elevator, Jason uploaded Matt’s scan to Michelle and me. As we were leaving, Jason said, “Matt woke up when he heard the door close. He won’t remember talking with us or even that we were there.”
Then Michelle spoke. “We have to get moving if we want to be back at Jordan’s dorm on time. I see that Jorge and Matt know different addresses for Tyler. Let’s see if Tyler is at the place Matt gave us.”
= = =
A few minutes later we pulled up to Tyler’s new place. He was staying with a girl he knew. Michelle rang the bell, but no one answered. We heard music coming from the back, so we walked around. Again, our order was Michelle, me, and then Jason. Unfortunately, the music was coming from the neighbor’s yard. Michelle walked up to the fence and, after getting a teenage girl’s attention, she asked, “Pardon me, do you know when Frances will be back?”
“Franny? No. I didn’t even see her go out, sorry.”
“Thanks, anyway,” Michelle responded, and we walked back to the car.
After we climbed back in, Michelle said, “I think we have enough to go back to the boss and brief him. He’s the one who approves bringing others into the case. Heck, this isn’t even a case yet, officially.”
“We’re not going to drop it, are we?” I asked.
“Alex, we need to have someone from up here take over and find Tyler. We don’t have any reason to stay here, and face it, we all have to get back to Tucson today.”
“Yeah, I guess, but it doesn’t seem fair that we got this far and have to give up.”
“We’re not giving up. I’m going to open a case and ask the boss to have the assets up here take over. We can trust the people here. They’re just like us; the want to stop the bad guys.”
Jason jumped in. “In the meantime, let’s do some shopping so we don’t blow our cover. I could use a couple of Tees and some new Levis.”
“And I know where a mall is in this neighborhood. Let’s go.”
“OK,” I said, reluctantly.
We got to the mall and we had to hurry. We were due back at Jordan’s in an hour. We each knew what we wanted to buy, so we sprinted to the appropriate shops and got what we needed. Twenty minutes later, I was back at the car. Michelle came next and, finally, Jason arrived. As we drove back to Jordan’s dorm, we discussed what we should do with Paul on the ride back so we could discuss the case. It looked like he was going to take a two-hour nap on the ride home. I’m sure he’d appreciate that.
We pulled up to the dorms and I texted Paul, saying we were outside and waiting for him. After a seemingly long goodbye with his brother, both of them walked over to the car fifteen minutes later. We all said goodbye and Michelle wished Jordan well with his problem. Jason helped Paul get in the car and left a posthypnotic suggestion with him. As we hit the Interstate, Jason said, “Scourge,” and Paul was out like a light.
With Paul out of the way, we were able to logically put together what we had so far; now any of us could explain it to the Phoenix team. We agreed that we pretty much lucked out being able to find out where Tyler was, but now we had more to worry about. Tyler was hiding from Marty. Tyler trusted Matt or he wouldn’t have contacted him, and Matt had opportunity to turn on Tyler, yet he didn’t. We went through what Jason downloaded from Jorge, but Tyler hadn’t contacted him this week, which meant one of two things, they weren’t close friends, or Tyler didn’t trust Jorge enough to contact him. We knew that Tyler was a bad guy, but his ass was on the line if Marty found him. We had to find a way to get Marty, and maybe Jorge, but if possible, get Tyler and Matt off the hook and relocated.
= = =
When we got back to Tucson, we dropped Paul off at home and he apologized for falling asleep on us. We told him not to worry… it was a long day and we understood. Then Michelle dropped us off at Jason’s house. Jason’s dad left a note saying he’d be back late Sunday afternoon. I guess that was good; I only packed one day’s change in my bag. I stripped and washed my two sets of clothes and we spent a lot of time in the pool.
We can’t wait to find out what the boss decides. This could be an exciting time.