It had been a month since Sawyer had helped Ryan escape the courthouse. They had spent the weeks following the escape trying to evade capture in the woods. They were unable to light any fires for fear of the smoke giving away their position. Still, they had managed to avoid capture so far, mostly because of Sawyer’s ability to keep them a step ahead of the police dogs. They had no shelter and had little food. Only what they could scavenge from hunting cabins. Sawyer had spent one evening pretending to be a stray and was invited into a house long enough to steal an old radio.
“What are they saying?” asked Ryan
Sawyer pulled off his headphones and replied, “Sounds like the police are calling off the search for now.”
“What about you being on video shooting up the courthouse?” asked Ryan
“Well, sounds like people know it happened, but…” said Sawyer
“But what?” said Ryan
“But the media is doing a good job of casting doubt on the situation. I’m either a small person in a costume or a hologram.” Said Sawyer “Because quote: “There’s no way a dog can shoot an AK-47, people!” Or so I keep hearing on the radio.” Said Sawyer as he wrapped the headphones around the radio and placed it in his denim backpack.
“Do you think the insurance companies have me listed as wanted?” asked Ryan
“No idea. Why?” said Sawyer
“Time to make a call.” Said Ryan as dialed a number into his cell phone.
“Hello, I’d like to make a change to my insurance policy…” said Ryan
“Yes, the benefactor in the event that I die…”
“Phillip Bauer, please. B-A-U-E-R.” said Ryan
“What are you doing that for?” whispered Sawyer
“Alright, thank you very much. Have a nice day.” Said Ryan as he hung up the phone.
“Why did I do that?” said Ryan “Because there’s no reason $100,000 needs to go to someone who can’t use it in the event that I get killed. Phil can use it to find Annie’s captor.”
“OK, but in the meantime, where do we start?” asked Sawyer “We don’t know anything. Not even the police had a clue.”
“I know.” Said Ryan, shaking his head. “But since we escaped the courthouse, I’ve been wanting to ask Fred a few questions.”
“Fred Crosby?” asked Sawyer “Your lawyer?”
“My crappy lawyer, yes.” Said Ryan. “He just didn’t seem at all interested in doing his job. It’s as if he wanted me in jail. Call me paranoid, but it’s worth looking into.”
“You know where to find him?” asked Sawyer
Ryan pulled a card from his wallet. “Let’s start at his office. First thing tomorrow morning.”
* * * * *
Ryan and Sawyer made it into town before the sun came up. They knew that in order to get into the office, they had to find disguises. Ryan had grown a beard while in the woods, so it would help for a little while, but once in Fred’s office, he knew he’d need something better.
“Wait here.” Said Ryan. “I’m going to find disguises.”
Ryan was gone for about 30 minutes before coming outside with two bags and a large box.
“What’s in the box?” asked Sawyer.
“Your disguise.” Said Ryan
Sawyer opened the box and found a large baby stroller with a cover shade on it.
“Nice. We can hide the guns in here too. Good thinking.” Said Sawyer. “What’s your disguise?”
“Never mind…” said Ryan
“Tell me!” said Sawyer.
“No.” said Ryan.
“I’ll find out sooner or later.” Said Sawyer as he grabbed one of the bags from Ryan. He opened the bag and immediately doubled over laughing.
“Shut up, Sawyer.” Said Ryan
“Make sure you shave first.” Said Sawyer through tears of laughter.
* * * * *
“Hey, sexy!” said a stranger as they passed by Ryan and the baby stroller. Sawyer covered his mouth with his paw to hold back the laughter.
“Sawyer!” said Ryan under his breath. “Focus!”
Ryan was wearing a blue dress, a blonde wig and was carrying a purse while pushing the stroller.
“Aw, how cute!” said a lady on the street as they crossed paths. “Can I see your baby?”
“Um, he’s napping right now.” Said Ryan in a female voice.
“Oh, OK.” Said the lady. “I see you have another one on the way!” said the woman, pointing at Ryan’s stomach.
Sawyer immediately busted out laughing.
Ryan looked down at his gut, then shot his glare back at the woman. “Mind your own business, you stupid skank!” said Ryan, making no attempt to hide his voice.
The woman was shocked and hurried away with a disgusted look on her face as Ryan continued his way towards the lawyer’s office.
“Stop walking so fast!” said Sawyer. “You might induce labor!”
“I hate you, Sawyer…”
* * * * *
“Yes, I’ll take your case.” said Fred into his phone. “$1,000 up front, then $200 per hour after that.”
“That’s the cheapest rate in town.” Said Fred
“Well if you’re so worried about going to jail, you should either buy a better lawyer or maybe not break the law!” Fred yelled into his phone.
“Hello? Hello? Cheapskate.” Said Fred as he hung up.
“Mr. Crosby, there’s a woman out here that would like to see you.” Said the receptionist through the intercom.
“Send her in.” said Fred.
* * * * *
“Hello, miss.” Said Fred. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, my name is Cammi Granato and I’m trying to divorce my husband.” Said Ryan
“Divorce just so happens to be one of my specialties!” Said Fred, obviously flirting.
“Good. He’s a horrible man.” Said Ryan “He never listens, he leaves the toilet seat up and—“
“Intriguing.” Said Fred. “Do you have money?”
“Well, I have my husband’s money.” Said Ryan as he pulled out a fake ATM card. “How much do you want?”
“Let’s have lunch, shall we?” said Fred, grinning from ear to ear.
Ryan put the stroller holding Sawyer into the back of Fred’s car, then rode with him to a nearby diner.
“The fish here is terrible. So is the beef, the pork and the turkey.” Said Fred. “But it’s dirt cheap, which I like.”
“Works for me.” said Ryan.
Ryan pushed Sawyer into the diner, then sat at a nearby booth.
“What can I get for you?” asked the waitress.
“I’ll have the fish sandwich. Easy on the mayo.” Said Fred.
“And you, miss?” said the waitress as she turned towards Ryan.
“I actually brought lunch with me.” Said Ryan as he reached into the stroller.
“Miss, we don’t allow outside food in the—“
Ryan pulled his shotgun out and pointed it at Fred’s face.
“Can I get everyone that isn’t a crappy lawyer to leave, please?” asked Ryan.
Everyone hurried out of the diner, then Ryan motioned for Sawyer to come out of the stroller. Fred’s jaw dropped when he saw Sawyer pointing his rifle at him.
“You two!” said Fred. “What do you want from me?”
Ryan took off his wig and dress, then put on jeans and a hoodie from the stroller.
“Tell me what you know about Annie’s missing person’s case and you’ll walk out of here alive.” Said Ryan.
“Me? I don’t know anything about it!” said Fred.
“Look.” Said Ryan. “You’re a terrible lawyer. But there’s no way anyone is that bad. You were throwing the case and you know it! Now tell me why!” said Ryan, jamming the gun against Fred’s chest.
“I’m telling you, I—“
Sawyer shoved his rifle into Fred’s mouth and growled at him.
“That’s Sawyer.” Said Ryan. “Wave at Sawyer.”
Fred turned his eyes towards Sawyer and waved slightly, then turned back to Ryan.
“He’s a good dog, but he has a talent.” Said Ryan. “He can smell bull crap from a mile away. He doesn’t like bull crap.”
“Alright, alright.” Said Fred. “This guy, he called me.”
“What guy?” asked Ryan.
“He never told me his name.” said Fred. “He just said that if you were convicted of murder and locked away, he would pay me a million bucks and give me coordinates for a safe zone.”
“Safe zone?” asked Ryan.
“I don’t know why, but he said I would need to be there within 24 hours of receiving the coordinates if I wanted to live.” Said Fred.
“What did the guy sound like?” asked Ryan.
“He disguised his voice.” Said Fred.
“So you listened to a guy with a disguised voice?” said Ryan
“Hey man, a million bucks.” Said Fred.
“Did he mention Annie at all?” asked Ryan.
“Sorry, just the money. He seemed to know what he was doing.” Said Fred. “No unneeded information passed between us.”
“Did he leave you a number?” asked Ryan.
“No, he said he’d call me whenever he needed me and his number was blocked.” Said Fred. “Hey, who’s at the door?”
Ryan and Sawyer both looked back at the door as Fred made his move. He grabbed Sawyer’s rifle and pointed it at Ryan! Ryan pointed his shotgun back at Fred’s face and chaos ensued.
“Put it down!” said Fred
“You put it down!” said Ryan. ”I’ve got nothing to lose!”
“I’ve got everything to gain!” said Fred. “Drop the gun now!”
“I have no problem killing you!” said Ryan.
“Neither do I!” said Fred.
No one noticed that the police had arrived in front of the building. Ryan saw Fred’s finger start squeezing the trigger, so he dropped to the floor as Fred blindly sprayed bullets out the window.
“He’s shooting at us!” said Officer Culver. “Return fire!”
The police opened up on the building, hitting Fred in the chest. Fred fell to the floor and lay motionless.
“Sawyer, get your gun and shoot back at the cops, but don’t hit anyone!” said Ryan
“Why?” said Sawyer.
“Just do it!” said Ryan.
Sawyer sprayed a burst of bullets of the heads of the police as they ducked for cover. Ryan took out his wallet and switched it with Fred’s. Then he put his wedding ring on Fred’s finger.
“We need a fire!” said Ryan. “Check the kitchen!”
Sawyer sprinted into the kitchen while Ryan kept returning fire. Sawyer found a gas stove, a microwave and some aerosol cans. Sawyer turned on the gas of all four burners, but never lit the fire.
“OK, when I give the word, put the cans in the microwave and turn it on full power for about 10 minutes!” said Ryan.
“What are you going to do?” asked Sawyer.
“I need my disguise again…” said Ryan
* * * * *
After Ryan had his disguise back on, he gave Sawyer the signal. Sawyer started the microwave, then jumped into his stroller. Ryan ran out the back door, pushing Sawyer as he went.
“Hold it!” cried a policeman.
“He rigged the whole place to blow!” said Ryan in a female voice.
“Come with me, ma’am!” said the officer.
Ryan followed the policeman to a safe distance, then waited.
“Make sure no one goes in there!” said Ryan. “They won’t make it!”
The officer used his radio to warned the others. Once he was finished, Ryan clubbed him in the back of the head, knocking him out. He and Sawyer left the scene just before the diner exploded in a ball of fire.
* * * * *
Officer Culver walked into the morgue and approached the charred remains they had pulled out of the diner.
“Were you able to identify the body?” asked Officer Culver.
“Yes.” Said the mortician. “His name was Ryan Easton. His wallet was in his pocket. There was enough info left undamaged to make a positive I.D. Plus his wedding ring had his name engraved on it.”
“Ryan Easton?” asked Officer Culver.
“Yes. Did you know him?” asked the mortician.
“Yeah, he helped the department out a few times. Not sure what got into him lately, but he used to be a good guy.” Said Officer Culver.
“Notify the next of kin?” said the mortician.
“Well, his wife is either missing or dead. He was the prime suspect. There’s no one else to call as far as I know.” Said Officer Culver. “Send the remains to the funeral home. Looks like this case is closed. For now at least.”
* * * * *
“Hello? Can anyone hear me?” cried Annie. “Please, help me!”
She was trapped in a windowless prison with a windowless door.
“Calm yourself.” Said a raspy, almost metallic voice. “You’re wasting energy.”
“Who are you? Where am I?” asked Annie.
“I can’t tell you who I am just yet, but you are safe here.” Said the man. “Here, eat something. You will need your strength in the days to come.”
The man passed a plate through a small slot in the door. Starving, Annie grabbed it and started eating.
“What are you going to do with me?” asked Annie as she ate.
“We’re going to make you the most powerful woman in the world.” Said the man. “Now enough questions. Why don’t you get some sleep?”
Annie immediately felt tired. ‘I must have been drugged!’ she thought. Before she could say anything in protest, she was asleep.
The man with the raspy voice stood and was about to walk away when a voice from the shadows stopped him.
“Will she assist us?” asked the man in the shadows.
“She will.” Said the man with the raspy voice. “With the right motivation, you can make someone turn on their own country.”
“Good.” Said the man in the shadows. “Tomorrow, we begin.”