Stone Walls, part 10
On their third night of exile, Duster took the card from her pocket and dialed Doug’s number. A woman answered, presumably his wife. Asking for Doug, she waited nervously.
“How are you doing? I’m not ashamed to say I was worried sick since what happened here after you left.”
“What happened Doug?”
“We had a fire in the warehouse storage area. In the exact area we had inventoried,” he added. There’s no possible way to even deduct how much was stolen now. I have the plant shut down until the repair crews replace that part of the building and the rest is cleaned up. Someone knows we know and took steps to make sure there wasn’t any hard evidence.”
“What do the detectives say?”
Doug sighed. “Unless they have a good piece of luck, the killers will no doubt get away with it. They figure the guilty parties will eventually quit one by one since it isn’t viable to try again since we know how it was done. They’ll leave with over a million bucks stuffed in their pockets,” Doug said in frustration. He didn’t mention that his insurance company was squawking about paying for the damage since it was arson related.
“When can we come home?” Debra asked.
Doug cleared his throat. “Um, the Patrol suggested no sooner than a month, preferably three.”
“What? Doug! We can’t put our lives on hold that long, much less can afford it!” she screamed into the phone.
“I know! Believe me, I’m trying to work out something with them. I had my own family flown out of here just in case. Just sit tight and call me in three days like we planned. Okay?”
Debra sagged and agreed, hanging up in defeat.
Sandra looked at her, her eyes concerned. She explained what she had been told.
“Something isn’t right Debra. Shit, I wish I had an access code to their computer, I’d hack into it and look around.”
Duster had forgotten that one of her degrees was in computer programming. “I have Bob’s, if it still works,” she whispered.
“How….never mind, I don’t want to know how you got your hands on it.” Sandra pulled out her laptop and hooked up the satellite connection. She punched in a series of commands Duster had no hopes of understanding then asked for the code.
Sandra punched it in and stared at the screen.
“Does it still work?”
“Yeah. Could you get me some coffee? Hacking has to be done carefully and I don’t want to make a mistake,” she asked.
The guard kept it up all night, avoiding triggering any rogue programs while keeping track of all the mystery shipments. Piece by piece, she put together the puzzle and documented every step. She sent Debra to the store to buy extra paper for her printer. She not only wanted a computer file, but a paper copy as well.
Duster didn’t question her at all, trusting her to tell her once she was finished.
Next, Sandra broke into the personnel files and finally into the accounting programming. It all began making sense. She knew who the ringleader was as well as the people helping pull it all off.
“Pack your bags sweetie, we’re leaving.” She ordered.
“What? Doug said to wait and call in three days,” Duster protested.
“In three days, there won’t be anything left to return to.” Stunned, Debra did as she was told.
“Take this exit Debra,” she said, pointing to the off ramp to the shuttle port.
“I thought we weren’t getting involved,” Duster said quietly. “You sent the evidence to the Patrol hours ago.”
“I know, but think we deserve to watch the ending. Don’t you?”
Duster nodded and followed the road signs to the airport, then releasing the wheel when the auto pilot took over in the shuttle port zone. The car computer bleeped, asking which terminal they desired. Sandra punched in her answer into the menu. Within a minute, their car stopped at the passenger entrance and didn’t pull away until both doors shut. A ticket popped out of the post for reclaiming the car later. Taking it, Duster shoved it into her pocket and followed her lover into the terminal.
Immediately as they passed the security gate, Sandra’s gun set off the alarm. Sandra produced her identification to the nervous guards. Satisfied she was authorized to carry a firearm, they had her sign for a neutralizer that she had to return upon leaving. It would prevent the alarms from sounding again.
“Let’s go. Gate 16, Sandra said, her features serious. They took the slide walk and got there quickly. Sandra grabbed her arm and pulled her to the side, looking around carefully.
“We don’t want to risk being seen, but I want to see the action.”
“I doubt anyone could recognize us with these stupid hats and dark glasses Sandra.”
The smaller woman shrugged and led her towards the indoor garden.
Duster giggled. “Talk about stereotype hon. We’re lurking in the bushes staking out the bad guy,” she whispered.
Sandra smiled. “Nah, it’s the house dick staking out the lobby behind the palm plant,” she corrected her.
“Close enough,” Duster snickered.
“Shh, keep your eyes open. I’ll watch this area, you watch over there.”
They watched in silence for nearly 20 minutes then Duster spotted him. “There he is,” She whispered, nudging Sandra, who spun and watched over her shoulder.
The suspect carried a single carry on, a metal suitcase. He looked around nervously, wiping his brow with a handkerchief. He chose a seat nearest the gate and sat down.
“Where are the Patrol officers?” Duster wondered aloud.
“I don’t know. I don’t see anyone who looks remotely like a poor imitation of a politician.”
“Shit! Do you think they got caught up in red tape? Fuck!” she uttered under her breath. “He can’t be allowed on that shuttle Sandra. Once he’s on it, he’s free.”
“I know that!” Sandra hissed back, equally frustrated. “Let’s move in closer. If no one tried to stop him then we’ll do it ourselves.”
“Um, hon, we don’t exactly have jurisdiction. You’re a guard, not a Patrol officer.”
Sandra snorted. “Ever hear of citizen’s arrest? It’s still in the law books you know.”
The PA system announced the flight was now ready to board. Cursing, Sandra and Duster rushed to the waiting area, only to be grabbed and pushed out of sight by two men.
“We have it covered ladies,” one man said harshly.
“Detective Anderson?” Duster asked, barely recognizing the man in his Hawaiian shirt and sloppy pants. Duster didn’t wait for an answer. She spotted several men escorting the man right past them. She stepped out from behind the dividing wall and planted herself in their path.
“Why Doug?” she asked, her voice hurt.
Doug Wilson slumped. “The business was sinking fast and I couldn’t think of anything else. Selling my product for less than cost was against the law, so I did it under the table. I couldn’t let the fact come out that the business was in the hole since I was trying to sell it. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt.”
“That’s little consolation to Bob’s family Doug. And what about your family? You sent them ahead knowing you couldn’t come back, didn’t you?”
Doug nodded. “They don’t know about all of this.” Duster sighed and stepped aside, letting the men continue on.
Sandra stepped up behind her and took her hand.
Lt. Anderson joined them.
“We have everyone involved. I’m taking you both into protective custody until the trials begin in case any of them get out on bail.”
It was over, with everyone involved found guilty and sentenced between seven years to life depending on the individual judges.
“I think I’m going to quit my job,” Sandra announced just as they crawled into bed.
“Any plans?” Duster asked.
“Sure. I’m going to open my own investigative business. By the way, I need a cute sidekick. Know anyone who wants to volunteer for the job?”
“Oh, I might,” Duster grinned.
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