Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers- Chapter 24

Chapter 24

The interviews had lasted several hours.  The FDLE agents had been thorough in establishing the timetable on the dope pipeline into and around Cedar Key.  They had identified contacts, drop points, methods of delivery and connections up the smuggler’s ladder of contacts in exchange for reduced sentencing.  Like must criminals, each one seized an opportunity to turn on the other for personal gain and the chance to avoid extended jail time. Reggie was no different.

The Nature Coast area of Florida was a haven for several fish species and attracted anglers from all over the world.  Unfortunately due to the many islands comprising the excellent migrating grounds for the pelagic species, it was also a mecca for illegal narcotic activity.  This was a constant battle for FDLE and other law enforcement agencies trying to thwart the illegal dope activity.  This bust had aided them greatly and the agents had been very grateful to Bubba, June and Dustin Zane. 

After the FDLE agents had finished with Reggie, Bubba slipped into the interview room.  Sliding a chair back from the small table, Bubba dropped into it and stared over at Reggie.

“Heard you got shot.”  Reggie sneered at Bubba.  FDLE had just made a deal with him to avoid jail time if he gave up his marijuana connection.  Like the rat he was, Reggie had taken the deal to skirt hard time.

“I did.  Bumped into some scum like you and he got lucky before I could kill him.”  Bubba grinned at Reggie who remained silent.  “But my personal well being, though I’m glad you care, is not what I’m here to talk to you about.”

“The State boys already offered me a deal.  Looks like to me you’re too late.”  Reggie leaned back in his chair and tried to dismiss Bubba.

“You’re right.  They offered you a wonderful deal to avoid hard time on the dope rap.  But I’m not talking about drugs.  I’m talking about murder.  In the State of Florida that’ll get you to the death chamber.”  Bubba stared straight at Reggie.  “Why do you think I came lookin for ya, Reggie?  I’m not the law any more.  Got a better gig.  Just wanted to let you know your assassin friends sang like canaries before they died.  Got it all on tape.  Fingered you, just like you ratted out your source.  From one piece of scum to another, you do understand.”  Bubba threw his head back and laughed.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I don’t know nothing’ bout no murder.”  Reggie’s voice had risen and Bubba had noticed it right away.

“You know, their end was quick – not like yours is gonna be.  I’ve always wondered what the last thoughts were that go through your mind when they inject you with that stuff.  You see, I’m told it takes a little time….”

“Shut up!  Shut up, Bubba!  I didn’t kill no one!  No one!  You can’t tie me to nothin’!”  Reggie was screaming at Bubba. 

Bubba calmly looked over at Reggie.  “Oh, Reggie, you really should brush up on the law before you get involved in all of this….this mess.  You don’t have to pull the trigger to be guilty of murder in the State of Florida.  You just got to help – they call that an accomplice.  Nice name for it, really.  You know what I mean, the little things you’ve done.  Those itsy-bitsy matters that appear innocent and pocket you some change.  You see, Reggie, knowing stuff can be bad.  Real bad.  Death Chamber bad.” Bubba threw his head back and laughed, slapping his leg in the process.  “You know, I want to be there when they strap you down and slide that needle into your arm.  I bet…”

Reggie cut him off.  “I didn’t do nothin!  I don’t know what they told you, but I didn’t do nothin!  I just….just gave them some layouts.  I didn’t know what they wanted them for.”

Bubba turned serious for a second and stared at Reggie.  “You see, that’s all you had to do to get the death penalty.”

“I wanna a deal.  I’ll talk but I wanna a deal.”

“Why should I give you a deal?  We have all we need to see you die.  Just like you were gonna have us die.  Why should I care?”  Bubba had leaned forward and the malice in his eyes scared even Reggie.

“Be..because I know where the contact came from.  I..I….have information, Bubba.”  Reggie sat staring at Bubba, his eyes pleading for salvation, the thought of being put to death terrorizing him.  “Come on, Bubba.  Please….please….I’ve got a family….”  Reggie started to sob.

Bubba stared at the pitiful criminal with an air of disgust and contempt.  As long as he was masterminding the downfall of others, Reggie did not care if they lived or died if it benefitted him.  But when his life was at stake, the coward he was came shining through.

“I’ll see what I can do.  But if you lie one time I’ll be there to push the needle myself.”  Bubba paused before continuing.  “Do you hear me?” yelled Bubba.

Reggie nodded his head as sobs racked his body.  “I don’t wanna die.  Please…”

Bubba turned and walked out the door.  June and Dustin Zane met him in the monitoring room.  All interview rooms, like the one Reggie was in, were wired to record audio and visual responses from the suspects.

“I’m glad you’re on our side.”  June slapped Bubba on the back.

“Let’s not get too excited.  We need to know what he’s not telling us.  Could be nothing and it might be what we’re looking for.  Either way, I believe we have our leak.”

It took less than thirty minutes for Bubba to get the rest of the information out of Reggie.  Hector and the other assassins had come to him for information and he had supplied them with a rough layout of Waterbury Enterprises, gleaned from information he had extracted from some of the janitorial staff.  The employees frequented a local watering hole and Reggie had struck up a conversation, getting them to unwittingly reveal information he needed.  They had become pawns used by Reggie to further his own means.

The real gem had come later in the interview.  Reggie had been present when Hector had received the nerve gas at the hotel in Cedar Key.  It had been delivered by a man in a white panel van.  Reggie had not heard the man’s name, but he had a license plate number.  Thinking it might be useful later the rat had copied it down and committed it to memory.  In addition, he supplied Bubba with a detailed description of the courier.

At the end of the interview, Bubba had gotten up to leave, but turned and faced Reggie.

“I know you supplied Matt Kyle, the man who murdered Shirley’s brother Billy and her parents, with information about them and where they lived.  You and I both know I don’t have the proof to put you behind bars.”  Bubba walked around behind the interview table and snatched Reggie to his feet and slammed him against the wall.  “But if I ever see you in Cedar Key again, I’ll kill ya.  Do you understand?”

Reggie nodded his head, his eyes wide with fright.  Bubba glanced down and noticed Reggie had urinated in his pants.  Throwing him into the corner, Bubba turned and left the room, joining the others at the interview monitoring station.

“I just verified the van license plate.  It’s a rental vehicle.  You want us to track down who rented it for you?” asked one of the FDLE agents.

“That would be mighty helpful,” said Bubba.

            The coffee pot was located in the corner of the Cedar Key Police Station headquarters and was the most popular attraction in the tiny building.  Bubba had just poured a cup of coffee when the young FDLE agent walked back up to him.

“The name used to rent the vehicle is not checking out.  It appears to be a forgery.  I’m running it through the national data base and hopefully something will turn up.  The rental car company made a copy of the driver’s license and he scanned it into their system.  He’s sending it over now.”

Everybody huddled around the computer screen as the information was sent.  The picture, though not a good one, was distinguishable.  A white male in his late forties was staring back at them.

“All of the information on the license is counterfeit.  None of it checks out.  I’m sending his picture out over the wire and I’m sending the fictitious name and date of birth.  Maybe he has used it in the past and he’s been arrested.  We can only wait.”

“Nice job.  We’re gonna grab a bite to eat while you guys finish your reports.  Hopefully you’ll have something for us when we get back.”  Bubba slapped the young man on the shoulder and headed out the door.  June and Dustin Zane were in tow. 

Nothing to do now but wait.

“Professor there is nothing on Mind Walkers in any search engine that I can find.  There’s reference to a computer game and that’s it.”  Angela shoved the keyboard back from her and drew her knees to her chest, resting her chin on her hand.

“Slade said it might have something to do with psychic ability.  The ability to ‘see.’  Did you find anything like that?” asked Professor Johansen.

“No, but I wasn’t looking for that.  Let me try the search again.”  Angela’s hands flew across the keys, her fingers punching out a steady rhythm as she fed information into the query system.  The response was instantaneous.  “Whoa, Professor.  You’re going to have to be a little more specific.  I have sites from clairvoyance to prophets to seers and to everything in between.  There’s a lot of information here.  I don’t see anything where Mind Walkers are mentioned.  Do you think Mind Walkers are a type of psychic?”

“Could be.”  Professor Johansen was pacing, something he did frequently when he could not find the immediate answer to a puzzle before him.  “What about an island for research?  Slade said they were conducting research on an island, but didn’t know where.  Any luck on that?”

“None.”  Another member of the staff had spoken.

“Okay.  Let’s go with what we have.  Let’s pull a Slade and play detective.”  Everyone in the room chuckled and Professor Johansen allowed a smirk to cross his face.  “Slade was at the Brain Institute in Colorado Springs.  Let’s find out everything we can about the facility.  A lot of research facilities rely on private donors.  Why don’t we see who has been contributing to the Brain Institute?  It may give us a lead that can help Slade.  We haven’t come up with anything on this end, so let’s look at it from a different perspective.” 

“Not a bad idea.  It may also shed some light on what a Mind Walker is, depending on who has donated money.”   Angela was already inputting data.  “I still think we need to have some members of the team pursue the Mind Walker angle.  Maybe it’s a reference to something we do not know anything about.  Perhaps something from our past.”

“Good idea, Angela.  Let’s have a couple of you work on that.”  Professor gestured toward two of the assistants and they started to compare notes.

“Professor I have accessed the web site for the Brain Institute and there are a list of corporate sponsors.  The list is very impressive and extensive.  I suggest we break it up.”  Angela looked at her boss for support.  “By the way, what are we looking for from the private donors?  What is the nexus we are in search of?”

“I don’t know.  But now that you have identified all of the donors, let’s do an analysis of each.  Some are going to be private contributors, but some will be corporations.  Let’s complete a detailed workup of each person or company that contributes.  Make sure the information is an automated data base and once it’s complete, we’ll see if there any similarities.  The overlapping areas are where we’ll focus.”

“I have a feeling we may need to get Bubba involved at that point.  He may be able to help in identifying the areas we need to focus on.”  Angela had paused from printing out the information on her screen.

“Agreed.  But for now we can do the bulk of the background work.”  Professor Johansen walked over to the other two assistants working on researching Mind Walkers.  “I had a thought.  I want you to broaden your search.  Not only work on identifying Mind Walkers, but focus on anything or any corporation that has done extensive studies on using the human mind for anything from ESP to telekinesis.  Perhaps the concept of psychics or seers is too narrow and we need to widen our search parameters.”

“You thing that is what a Mind Walker could be, Professor?  A person with ESP or telekinetic powers?” asked Angela, listening to her boss.  The Professor’s approach to science always fascinated her and he was one of the smartest people she had ever met.  His ability to evaluate a solution from multiple angles intrigued her and she had learned so much from him.

“Those areas may not yield the answer, but they may point us in a better direction, sharpen the search.  Remember, an answer to a problem is very seldom revealed in totality all at once.  Bits and pieces will drift in providing a framework to ‘flesh out’ the hidden secret.  By evaluating remote areas to a riddle, the path to enlightenment is often revealed.”

Angela shook her head in wonder.  It was a unique concept and at the moment, the only one with a possible chance of finding anything useful.  It looked like this mystery was going to remain hidden until they could find that path. 

After lunch, Bubba, June and Dustin Zane had returned to the Cedar Key Police Station.  When they walked in the young FDLE agent who had inputted the data on the suspect who had rented the van was talking excitedly into the phone. 

“No, no, we don’t have him in custody.  We identified him through a fictitious driver’s license he used to rent the van.”  The agent paused as the voice on the other end was practically yelling.  A distinctive foreign accent could be heard.

Bubba pulled up a chair and slipped into it across from the FDLE agent.

“Yes, we’ll call if he turns up here in the States, but we think he has left the Country.   We don’t have a record of him leaving.  He could’ve used a private flight.”

They all watched as the young agent nodded his head in agreement to the caller on the other end of the phone.  After several minutes, he agreed to call and hung up.

“Our inquiry created quite the stir.  Seems our boy is wanted by every government in Europe and doesn’t usually frequent this side of the world.”

“Who is he?” asked June.

“A career thug.  Been arrested a half dozen times, but skirted hard time in each instance.  England and France have apprehended him in the past.  That was INTERPOL on the phone and they’re after him for a recent bombing in Spain. Or at least if he didn’t do the bombing he was connected to it.”

“When was the bombing?” asked Dustin Zane.

“Two years ago.  He’s fallen off the radar since then.”  The FDLE agent, David Smith, checked his notes for accuracy.  “They thought he moved to South America and became a mercenary, but according to INTERPOL, their sources say he’s working for a German corporation.  Until now they hadn’t pursued the angle since he’s been laying low.  I asked them to query their source and see if they could get an answer.”

“What’s his real name?” asked Bubba.

“That’s just it.  INTERPOL doesn’t have an official name on him.  He goes by at least a dozen different aliases.  The one he used to rent the car hadn’t been used in over three years.  They believe his real name is Terri Taylor.  English by birth, but they think he resided in Algiers as a child.  But, again, they’re not sure.  He’s slippery.”  Smith stared back at the three men.

  “Find out whose he’s working for and we may move closer to who is trying to undervalue the stock on Akron Pharmaceutical.”  June spoke quietly.

“And who ordered the hit on Shirley.”  Dustin Zane glanced over at Bubba.

“All we can do is wait.”  Rising from his chair, Bubba extended his hand and shook Agent Smith’s.  “Thanks for all you’re doing.”

“Don’t mention it.  If we turn up something, we’ll call right away.  And Bubba, thanks for tipping us off to the dope smuggling.  We’ve been wondering who has been running marijuana for the last year or so.”

“Not a problem.  Just keep Reggie in jail for me.”  Bubba waved as he walked out.

Once outside, June and Dustin Zane walked with Bubba in silence and it was not until they were a block away did Bubba address them.

“I’m not waiting on INTERPOL to find out who our new friend Terri Taylor is hooked up with.  Those two FBI agents Cody sent over can start to earn their pay.  Maybe they know someone who knows this guy.”

“I have some contacts overseas and I’ll call them as well,” added Dustin Zane. 

“Has anyone heard from Slade?” asked June.

“Not me,” replied Bubba.

“Neither have I.”  Dustin Zane had flipped open his cell phone to see if Slade had called.

“Then let’s call him and fill him in on what we’re doing.  Those two FBI agents are leaving today I believe.  We should be able to catch them if we hurry.”  June quickened his pace to Waterbury Enterprises.

Dustin Zane looked over at Bubba and shrugged.  “Let’s go.  Seems like a good idea.”

The afternoon sun had started to fall toward the horizon.  Night would be upon them soon and they still had so much to do.

Read Chapter Twenty-five