Jesse struggled to listen to what Isaac talked about. Although he was now sitting in the room with a host of other agents, his mind was still in hallway. His mind was still in the moment when Isaac himself told him the case was about his enemy. For the longest time Jesse had forgotten all about Papel. After the whole thing at he and Angie’s wedding and the news that he would be locked up for life, they had agreed to work on the here and now. They instantly fell into a routine and lived their lives as a normal married couple. They had their fights, their knock out-drag downs and their make-ups. They had their good times and bad times. The point was, they had gotten so lost in the moments that Papel fell to the very bottom of their worry about list.
“Now, the word on the street is that Papel, has some people here in Chicago.”
“But, isn’t he locked away in one of the FBI’s most secured jails?” One of the agent’s asked.
Nodding, Isaac pointed to the screen. “He is. Since 2008 Papel gained a permanent cell in one of the FBI’s top security heavy penitentiary. He has been watched closely since his movement and how he’s been building an army is beyond our knowledge, which is why we need you all to help us.”
“We believe he has befriended a guard on the inside,” One of the older men from the night before added.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say befriended. As many of you have just found out, Papel has a way with people. Or more likely, has a way at getting to people. He knows what to use to get to them and to get them to do whatever he wants,” he defended. “Jesse?”
“Huh?” Jesse mumbled, looking up and meeting the wondering eyes of the several men and women seated.
“Would you like to come down and explain to us how Papel really works?”
“What would he know?” One of the fresh guys. “Isn’t he just a cop in some small town, somewhere?” He added, getting a few chuckles from his homeboys sitting around him.
Isaac opened his mouth to speak, but Jesse stood up and made his way to the center of the floor. “As a matter of fact, I am the Chief of Police of Pine Valley, Pennsylvania,” he corrected. “And what I know about Papel, and you might want to get your pen and paper out for this one kid, he’s one of the dirtiest bastards that ever walked this earth. Now, many of you weren’t even a twinkle in your mother’s eye or wiggly feeling in your father’s pants when this man started up his craziness. Hell, I was still wet behind the ears when he started and was just getting my life together when he came for me. Over 30years ago, I was shot in the line of duty and my family was led to believe I had been killed. For 20 years, as far as anybody knew I was rotting away in Pine Valley’s cemetery, when in reality I was in hiding. See, after I got shot and they faked my death, my lifeless body was taken from Pine Valley’s hospital and thrown into a warehouse off PV’s ship channel. For months I was beaten, I was tortured. They kept asking for something, but never once mentioned what it was. They just automatically assumed I knew what it was. Among the beatings, they threatened to kill my wife and son. They explained to me in great detail what they were going to do…” He choked and looked down at his wedding ring. He had never spoken of this part because it was too hard of a pill to swallow. But they needed to know what kind of man they were dealing with. “A man came in the room, put a sack over my head, kicked me around and said if I didn’t tell him what he wanted to know, he was going to… To tie my wife down to the very bed I made love to her in and after letting his guys work her over, he would get his turn and they would continue to do this until I gave them what they wanted or until she died. And with my son, they were going to tie him to a chair and make him watch and if Angie died before I gave them the information and I still relented, they would do the same to him, but with a gun.”
The room remained silent as everybody stared at him in shock and disbelief. In their line of work, they had seen stuff, heard stuff, but it never ceased to amaze them to hear that the sickness hadn’t just started. People had been doing the unbelievable since the beginning of time.
After several minutes of sitting in complete shock, one person cleared their throat and asked, “You said they, how many more was it? Did you know who they were?”
“No,” Jesse simply replied as he sat on the edge of the table in the middle of the room. “When it first started out, there were 4.”
“So, if he was such a bad man, how are you standing in front of us right now?”
Good question. “After holding me for so long and I guess finally realizing I really didn’t know anything, they decided to get rid of me. So, one of the guys drove me out into the woods and started digging a grave, I knew it was for me and I knew this time there would be no mistakes and because I didn’t know if they had found my family and hurt them, I couldn’t go down just yet, so I fought. I fought to stay conscious. Once he finished, he dropped the shovel next to my head and turned around. It was in that moment I took my chance. I grabbed that shovel, came to my feet and whack him across the back of his head… I whacked him and whacked him, until he hit the ground and didn’t move. I’m not happy about what I did, but neither am I ashamed.”
“You buried him?” Cedrick asked.
Jesse nodded and clasped his hands together. “I did. I took his clothes, his gun and wallet and rolled him into that hole. I drove away that night feeling different. I drove away that night a different man. I drove away that night a survivor and one that was willing to do whatever he had to do to stay alive.”
“What about your family?”
“Well, I drove by my old house and watched for a while, just making sure they were okay. I stayed in town for a couple of days to make sure they remained safe and then I left. I jumped from state to state for 20 years. Never stayed in the same place longer than a few months at a time. Hell, at one point I worked off shore… Then I returned home. My train was passing through and I had this crazy feeling to stop in. My son was 25 and on his death bed. He had contracted some kind of infection, I can’t remember the damn name, my wife’s the smart one,” he joked. “Anyway, I snuck into that hospital to see him, make sure he knew no matter what I loved him and I was proud of him and then I left. I had decided that I was going to go ahead and settle down in Canada or Mexico, somewhere outside of the states. Well, seeing as God has a crazy way of doing things, my wife and I were reunited.”
“That must have been some kind of reunion!” One of the women joked, getting hearty laughs from everybody including Jesse.
Still laughing, Jesse stood up and started walking around. “Indeed, it was. And still is. I told my wife we have 20years of loving to make up for. Anyway, I wasn’t supposed to stay, but that woman… That woman is a real piece of work. She talked me into staying and it was then all hell began to break loose. Turns out Papel had his suspicions of me still being alive and had my family tailed for nearly a year and just when he was getting ready to give up, I came back into the picture,” he explained and then went into the whole story of how Tad’s uncle befriended them and how it turned out the whole time he was Papel. From beginning to end, he held the attention of all, even had some people amazed by how bad this guy really was.
“Wow! So he kept you from your family for 20years over a diamond?” Cedrick asked. “That’s insane!”
“Actually, it wasn’t just the diamond,” Jesse interrupted. “Now, what I’m getting ready to share with you all, my wife does not know and I’ve kept it that way to protect her. See, as strong as she is hearing something like this would ruin her… Years ago a man by the name of Lester was the head of a humongous traffic ring, babies, kids and women. Just like Papel, he was feared by many but was never truly known. See he never once got his hands dirty, always had somebody else making the shots or taking the bullet or going to jail for him. He hid in the shadows for years. I mean his family had no idea what he was into, not until he got caught in a sting. Not until I became a cop and took him down, did the truth really come to the light. That man… Was also known as Les Baxter, my father in law. Now my wife knows about her father running the operation, what she does not know is that her father and Papel were long time partners. They started the entire thing together. And out of revenge for getting his operation torn down and his friend killed, Papel decided to eliminate all those involved in that take down. To this day, I am the only one standing from that night.”
“Whoa! I didn’t see that one coming,” someone mumbled.
“Neither did I… When I found out, man, it took everything in me not to go to him and beat him down. To know he was around for this long, around my wife, it burned me.”
“What stopped you?”
“Simple. My wife,” he replied. “Had she found out, she would have been devastated. She would have started blaming herself for the lost 20years all because her father held a grudge, even from the grave.”
Isaac nodded and crossed his chunky arms. “So, with that being said, this guy has decided to restart his ring from the inside and we need to shut it down before it gets deep.”
“But it won’t be easy,” Jesse added. “Guys like Papel are cool, calm and collected… Patient. There’s no telling how long this has been going on, there’s no telling who he has on his roster. To be honest, there’s no telling how many set-ups’ he has. He’s like a cat in the night, you won’t know what hit you until it hits you and by then it’ll be too late.
“Exactly! So, you all have some work to do. We know there is a group here in Chicago, but we don’t know where they are and we don’t know who they are. We need you all to go through the databases, search through closed and open cases, see if you can put together something that will lead us to these men. While Papel is still put away, these guys are not and until they are, until we can find out who he has working for him, we have nothing to push for an execution and we have nothing to go to him with.”
“If we do catch these guys, who’s to say they don’t have somebody waiting in the wings?”
“Oh, we have no doubt they have somebody waiting and that’s why we’re going to shut down the entire damn thing. Stop it at the source! And… Jesse, if you will, we could really use your help. You know this man, you knew the man he ran with and you know how it all go started and more than anything we could use your assistance.”
Jesse looked at the guy he got along with good the night before and sighed. “I made a promise to my wife and my child. It’s only so much I can help you with.”
“Any help of any kind will be greatly appreciated.”
“Tad, he’s not picking up!” Angie panicked. “Are you sure he’s out?”
Tad walked up to her and took her phone. “Angie, I swear to you. He’s out and I know he’s going to come for Jesse, you, Frankie… Ellie.”
“No,” Angie gasped.
Angie deepest fear was beginning to come true. It seemed like the minute she and Jesse got on the road to happiness, something went down and now it was threatening to take her very reasons for living. Her family.
“Angie, there’s something you need to know and I…Jesse’s going to kill me for telling you, but… It’s the only way you’ll understand the severity of this.”
“I know how serious this is, Tad,” Angie spat, turning on her heel and walking back into the kitchen. “I was there. I saw what that monster did to my husband! What he tried to do to Frankie, Colby, Cassandra… You! Tad, I know.”
“No,” he sighed, trailing closely behind her. “I mean how precious you and Ellie are to this entire case.”
Turning around and fixing him with a questioning glare, Angie crossed her arms and asked. “What are you talking about?”
Tad looked down and thought back to the conversation he and Jesse had some years ago. He remembered how Jesse made him swear to never tell Angie, he remembered how it hurt him to keep it from her. “Angie… You, Frankie and, now Ellie are the key to this entire thing. It’s either going to be you all or it’s going to be Jesse… This world was not meant to have you and him together. This world of Robert Gardner does not include you two as a couple and it was all because of a promise he made to a friend.”
“You’re confusing me, Tad. What promise? What friend?”
“Robert Gardner made a promise to Lester that Jesse and you were to never, ever, ever be together. There was not supposed to be any kids between you. Lester made him promise that if something was to happen to him, that he was to do whatever he had to do to keep you apart and if it meant killing you and making him suffer, then so be it.”
“Lester?” Angie questioned, completely not putting it all together. This was all so confusing to her and aiding in giving a damn headache.
Gently taking hold of her shoulders, Tad forced her to look at him. “Les Baxter.”
S/N: WTF!!!! Did he just say, what I think he just said???
A/N: Oh yea, I went there! And I’m not yet