They Tell Me Nothing
Johnson took the folder from me after I identified Rosalie in the picture. "So, what's the deal with her?"
"It's not for me to say, Tony," he said, putting the folder into his desk. "Suffice it to say that she's on a lot of people's dance cards. FBI, Interpol, CIA, several police departments, and those are just the legal entities. Half of the underworld seems to be interested in her as well, as you could see by the guys who picked you up. My guess is that you're going to have a lot of people interested in talking to you about her in the near future."
"Oh, that's just great," I said. "Detective Johnson, I met her in a bar. I lent her a cigarette. We had dinner together a couple of times. Pizza and beer. I sold her a bottle of wine. We...well you know what we did. I don't have anything to do with her other than that. And now, all of a sudden, I'm in trouble because of her?"
"Afraid so, brother."
"Well, that blows monkeys," I said. I lit a cigarette and blew the smoke out of my nostrils. "I didn't do shit!"
"I know, Tony. Just calm down."
"Why should I? It's my ass on the line, and I have no clue as to why. Someone damn well better tell me what's going on."
"All in due time. Hey, they're not even telling me what's going on. I'm in the same position that you are." I glared at him. "OK, maybe I'm not in any kind of danger, but I know how you feel."
I sat back in my chair. "So, what am I supposed to do? Stay in my house all the time? Be a sitting duck for whoever the hell wants a piece of her?"
"Calm down, brother. We may have to move you for a while..."
"Put you someplace safe."
"For how long?"
"For as long as it takes to find her."
"Oh, great. So, I spend my Christmas away from my mom and my brother? I don't get to see Kate again until Rosalie Jakubauskas somehow finds her way into the hands of the FBI? And I'm not entitled to an explanation of what's going on until all of this comes to some sort of conclusion? That sounds like a great deal." I leaned forward in my chair. "I'm not going anywhere unless it's Hawaii."
He laughed. "That could be arranged."
Hm! "Are you serious?"
"I don't know. You'd have to talk to the feds about that."
"So, when do I talk to the feds?"
"Right now," he said. He pointed behind me. I turned and saw two men in nearly identical blue suits, white shirts and dark ties.
"Mr. Reardon, I'm Agent Kennedy, this is Agent Spilotro," the lighter haired agent said. "Would you mind coming with us? We need to talk."
"Gee, where have I heard that before?" I said to Detective Johnson as I stood and followed the two men to an interview room.
Nothing More To Say
I took a seat in the interview room where the FBI agents led me and lit another cigarette.
"You sure smoke a lot, kid," Agent Spilotro said.
"I do when I'm nervous."
"You don't have any reason to be nervous," Agent Kennedy said. "You haven't done anything, unless there's something you haven't told us."
"Excuse me, what do you mean, I don't have any reason to be nervous?" I shouted.
"Take it easy, kid," Spilotro said.
"No! I won't take it easy." I sprang out of my chair and got right in his face. "It's easy for you to say take it easy. You haven't been through what I've been through. No one's trying to run you over with a car. No one damn near killed your girlfriend. No one's grabbing you when you come off the subway and bringing you someplace to talk. Three hours ago, I was sitting in my girlfriend's living room, drinking tea and eating soda bread. Now, I'm sitting here talking to the FBI about someone that I happened to lend a cigarette to in a bar."
"Tony..." Kennedy said.
I whirled around and thrust a finger at him. "That's Mr. Reardon to you bozos." They looked shocked. Spilotro pulled up a chair and sat down. I took a drag off of my cigarette and blew the smoke in his face.
"Mr. Reardon," Kennedy said. His tone was apologetic and calm. "What we meant was that you're not in any trouble with us. We understand that you're nervous about everything that's been happening to you in your life. Hey, anyone would be. You're in the middle of something that all of us are trying to put an end to, but we're not quite sure how to. We believe that the woman you know as Rosalie might be involved with organized crime or international terrorists. We're not really sure, but we do know that there seems to be a lot of interest in her from a number of quarters, and it would explain a lot about why they're going after you."
"Yeah, you can start with an answer to that one," I said, pulling up a chair and flopping down into it. "Why are they going after me? I didn't do anything."
"Well, whoever's been doing this might be using you to get to her. You know how it works: they put you in the hospital, she comes to see you, they grab her. They grab you and hold you for ransom, she has to do what they say to get you out of it. That kind of thing."
"And, I suppose, that would leave my life in her hands?"
"OK, so what if she doesn't care? I mean, what if she tells them, OK, do what you want to Tony, I'm not going along with...whatever it is that she's supposed to go along with?"
"That's a risk we have to take. My guess, though, is that she wouldn't do that. The letter you provided from her is indication that she cares about you. At least cares enough to let you know what's going on."
"She just said that she was going away."
"At least you heard from her. And, am I correct, she came by to see you in the hospital when you ended up there?"
I nodded in reply. "So, where does this leave me? Do I need a bodyguard? Are you going to send me away for a while? I want to get on with my life. I don't want to see her again, if it's going to mean that I have people trying to kill me to get to her. I swear to you, I lent her a cigarette. I saw her the next day, she was...interested in me."
"Was she your first woman?" Agent Spilotro said.
"You mean, my first girlfriend?"
"No, I mean did you..."
"Why is everyone so interested in that?"
"So she was."
"I didn't say that."
"No, but you're acting like it. Look, Tony...I'm sorry, Mr. Reardon...we have a good reason for wanting to know that. It gives you motive for wanting to cover for her."
"I swear to God, I'm not covering for her."
"No one said that you are..."
"No? Then quit talking to me like I am."
Spilotro sat back in his chair. "OK. So you're not covering for her. Where is she?"
"I have no frickin' idea. That letter that you guys saw is the last that I heard from her. I tried to go see her after I got it, and they told me that no one had been in her apartment for months. Which was bullshit, because I had been in there."
"Is that the apartment at the Hancock Center?"
"We've been through there, and there's no trace that anyone's been there for some time. How would you explain that?"
"I don't know. You're the FBI, you tell me. Look, I've told the police everything that I know about her. You're not telling me everything that you know about her. No one is. I want to know why not."
"Because you don't need to know."
"I want to know."
"That's not the same, kid. Look, you want this shit to stop? You cooperate with us."
"I hear a lot of that lately. People want to talk to me, people want to help me, no one's telling me what I'm up against."
"OK, you want to know what you're up against?" Spilotro sprang out of his seat and leaned over the table at me. "You're up against the Mob, you're up against God knows what terrorist groups, you're up against the police, you're up against this woman, and you're up against me. And right now, the only one that you need to worry about is me."
Kennedy stood up and pulled Spilotro back. "Rick, take it easy. You're not going to get his help that way. Go get us some coffee, OK?"
Spilotro frowned at me, and stormed out of the room.
Kennedy turned as if to say something to me, but I interrupted him. "Good cop, bad cop, right?"
Kennedy laughed. "You ever consider a career in law enforcement?"
I laughed back. "I hear that a lot lately."
"OK, Mr. Reardon...."
"OK. Call me Dan. Here's the deal. We're not sure that we know exactly who this woman is. If our suspicions are correct, she is knowledgeable in areas that would be of interest to organized crime and international terrorism. If she isn't, then it's a horrible mistake that everyone's making, and everyone should just back off and let the two of you be. I can't tell you what our suspicions are, because it would violate her civil rights. That whole innocent until proven guilty thing. If we were to say something to you, and it were incorrect, that would be slander."
It sounded plausible to me. "OK, but what I'm trying to tell you is, I don't know where she is. I've told you and the police everything that I know. I'm tired of being treated like the bad guy here. I want this crap to stop."
"And it will. You did a lot today to help us make it stop, by identifying those guys. You're doing a lot by cooperating with the investigation. I want to make sure that you continue to do so. I'm sorry that we've had this confrontation. You've been trying to help us, I understand that. Now, can you think of anything else that might help us?"
"Not right now. I'm sorry."
"That's all right. You're working with Detective Johnson, which is good. We'll be working with him on the case from here on out. You have his number, right?"
"All right. So, got big plans for Christmas?"
"No, just going home."
"All the way out south, huh? I'm sure that Johnson knows that."
"He knows where I live, yes."
"OK, then. Guess we'll wait for him to get back with the coffee."
Nothing But Trouble
By the time I got finished with the FBI agents, and they returned me to Detective Johnson, it was late in the afternoon, and I wasn't sure whether or not I could go back to see Kate. I called the Molloy house anyway, just to be sure, and was told that it was too late by Mr. Molloy. I asked him to give her the message that I had called, but he managed to hang up before I could give him the message.
"Too late, huh?" Johnson said. I nodded. "I'm sorry we had to do that, Tony, but it was pretty important stuff. Clearly, with all of this going on, you're not particularly safe while this Rosalie is still around."
"It makes no sense to me, Detective," I said.
"These things never do. So, when do you go back home for the holiday?"
"Wednesday after class. Why?"
"Just wondering, that's all. Uh, you going to be working anytime soon?"
"Yeah, tomorrow. Why all this interest in my schedule?"
"I'm just thinking that it might not be a bad idea to put a bodyguard on you."
"What? No." I shook my head from side to side. "No way."
"Look, I'm just thinking about your safety."
"Well, I'm thinking about looking like an idiot."
"Would you rather be a living idiot or a dead wise guy?"
He had a point. I sighed. "Oh, all right. Just don't make it too obvious."
Johnson shook his head. "Don't know if I can accommodate you there, Tony. I mean, the guy would be with you pretty much all day and night."
"What? You mean, hanging out in the dorm with me, being with me at work, that kind of thing?" This didn't sound good.
The detective shrugged. "Either that, or we take you to a safe house and don't let you do anything for a while. The other thought would be you start your semester break now, take time off from your job, and go to your mother's house, and we keep an eye on you there. I don't think any of these people would go so far as to try something when you were at home."
I was getting frustrated. "So, what happens after Christmas break? What do we do then? Do I have to stay at Mom's house, and have you guys take me to school and bring me home?"
I had an idea. "Wait a second. You guys are trying to flush Rosalie out, right? She's not going to come anywhere near me if you're hanging around. Wouldn't it be better to go with the status quo until we find out where she is?"
Johnson smiled, the kind of smile that told me that was what he wanted to hear me say. "You know, you do have a point there. Damn, I told you you were wasting your time in business school!"
Detective Johnson left me off at the corner of Loyola and Sheridan after giving me instructions on what I was to do if and when Rosalie contacted me. I was given a special phone number to call that would put me right through to him. I was to report everything that she said to me, no matter how insignificant, to him. If I found myself being followed by anyone, I was to find the nearest phone and call him. If anything funny happened, I was to call him. If anyone was standing outside of my mother's house, I was to call him.
I got out of his car and watched him drive away before going into the dorm. I checked my watch and saw that I had fifteen minutes to get dinner at the cafeteria, so I went and had something to eat. I was pretty much the only person there, since a lot of my dorm mates had already gone home for the holiday, and most people went out to dinner on Saturday night, anyway.
After dinner, I walked across the concourse, past the person checking IDs and rode the elevator to the eighth floor. I went to my room, walked in, and turned on the light.
"Hi, Tony," a familiar voice said. Rosalie was sitting on my bed.
Nothing Sacred, Redux
"What are you doing here?" I demanded.
"Well, it's nice to see you, too, sweetheart," she said. She smiled, stood up and kissed me on the cheek. "What's the matter? Aren't you happy to see me?"
"Uh...well...let's just say that my life has certainly become interesting since the last time I saw you."
"Do tell," she said, sitting back down on the bed and lighting a cigarette.
"My roommate doesn't want anyone smoking in the room," I protested.
"He's not here, is he? In fact, he left you a note to let you know that he's gone home for the holidays. It's right there on your desk." She pointed at the piece of looseleaf paper with Eddie's unmistakable scrawl on it. I read it over as I was taking off my coat.
"Guess you're right," I said, and joined her in a cigarette. "I'm sorry we don't have any coffee to offer you."
"That's all right. So, what's been going on since I've been gone?"
"Well, I was cornered a couple of weeks ago and shown a picture of you with blonde hair and blue eyes, and asked if I knew where you were."
"Bunch of Mafia types. I was just at the police station all afternoon, identifying two of the guys. I also spent some time with a couple of FBI agents, who showed me the same picture that the Mafia types showed me and asked about you."
She took a deep drag off of her cigarette and blew the smoke out through her nose. "OK. What else is going on?"
"We had a big outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease at the store, and since then my hours have been cut."
"Why'd they cut your hours?" She sounded indignant.
"I don't know. You'd think they'd need all of the help they could get at this time of the year, and yet, the boss just doesn't want me around."
"That's probably it. He rides you pretty hard, I remember that much." She tipped her head and smiled. "How're things going with Kate?"
"Well, I've had one or two really nasty encounters with her father, she's been in a cast most of the time we've been going out...wait a second, don't change the subject here."
Her face fell. "I'm not changing the subject, Tony. I promise you that. I'm trying to find out how Kate is doing, and how you're doing. If you don't want to talk about it, I understand, but at least understand this much: I feel responsible for all of what's happened."
"Well, you should." I was really angry. "I've got people trying to kill me, people following me all over the place, the cops are keeping an eye on me, the FBI thinks I'm involved, they say you're into all kinds of bad stuff, and all I did was have a couple of dates with you. Now, I want to know why all of this shit is happening, because the people trying to run me over hasn't stopped, it damn near got my sister and her girlfriend killed, and I'm worried about my mother and my brother."
"Wait a sec, honey, what's this about your sister?"
"Someone tried to kill us on the Kennedy when she was taking me home from the hospital."
"Oh, shit. Now that is serious." She lit another cigarette.
"What are you talking about? ALL of it's serious, Rosalie!"
"I know," she said, running her hand down my face. "Oh, Tony, I never wanted you to get involved in any of this. I didn't even want to get involved in it myself. Let me ask you something." She reached into her purse and pulled out an envelope, and pulled a small picture out of the envelope. "Is this the picture the police, FBI, and the 'Mafia guys' showed you?"
It was an exact copy of the picture I had seen. "Yes, that's it. That's you."
"No, it isn't. I promise you, Tony, it's not me."
"I can't. Not yet. But I will."
"I'm going to find her, and turn her in."
"How are you going to do that?"
"The same way the police and FBI do. And, I have a few tricks of my own."
"You're better off not knowing."
"All right, then tell me who this woman is, if you're not her."
"She's a classmate of mine from college."
"You told me you didn't go to college."
"I didn't graduate from college. I didn't go where my parents wanted me to go. I'm still trying to finish. I didn't lie to you about that, Tony. I promise you, that's true. You can check that against the records at DePaul if you don't believe me. Everything I've told you about me is true."
"And I'm supposed to believe you," I said.
"I can only hope that you would. I understand if you don't."
"What's her name?"
"Amanda Kelley. She uses my name sometimes. Sometimes she goes by Rose Jacobs. She looks enough like me, except for the blonde hair and blue eyes, that she could pass for me. Some brown hair dye, a pair of brown contact lenses, she could pass for me. And sometimes she does. She did back in college, once, when I was scared to death to take an exam. She went in and aced it for me. Not long after that, I left school for the first time."
"Did you get caught and have to leave?"
"No," she laughed. "I just decided that if it took that kind of thing to get me through school, then it wasn't worth it. Amanda stayed in touch with me for a while, talked about how she had gone on to get her bachelor's in biochemistry, and how she was going to study in Europe and get her master's there. She's a very smart woman."
"And attractive," I added.
She smiled and smacked my knee. "What if Kate heard you say that?"
"She'd probably agree. Kate's like that. She's real confident. I've never met anyone like her."
"Then it's good that the two of you are an item."
"I'm certainly happy that way. So, what about this Amanda?"
"She's very intelligent, but not particularly--how can I put it?" She sat and thought for a minute. "Let's put it this way. Amanda doesn't really use her head all the time. If it wasn't on paper that she was smart, no one would know. That's what's going on here. She's in over her head, and she's running around, telling everyone that she's me, trying to get away from everyone. And I've got to put a stop to it, before she causes me any more trouble and she gets people killed. People like yourself, who I happen to like quite a bit." She took my hand and squeezed it. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you, too," I said. "Of course, considering everything that's been going on, I don't know whether to kiss you or punch you in the mouth."
"I understand." She looked at her watch and said, "I've got to get out of here. Not a word to anyone, especially not the FBI or the police. They probably told you to call them, right?"
"Well, don't." She stood up and kissed me on the cheek, put her coat on, and hugged me. "Oh, Tony, I'm so sorry for what's happened."
"Well, then, make it stop," I said.
"I will. I promise." She kissed me again, then left with a wave.
I waved back, and waited until I heard the door to the suite close before I sat down.
I thought long and hard about whether or not to call Detective Johnson. I didn't want to betray Rosalie, but I also didn't want to run the risk of him finding out that she had been there and I hadn't told him. Finally, after about an hour, I called him.
"So, she made contact with you?" he said.
"Yes, Detective, she was in my room when I got back here after you dropped me off and I had dinner."
"What did she tell you?"
"She told me that the woman in the picture wasn't her. And, you know, I don't think it was. Rosalie has brown hair and brown eyes, the woman in the picture had..."
"Blonde hair and blue eyes. Yes, Tony, I know. There are things such as hair dye and contact lenses."
"I don't think she was wearing contact lenses."
"How would you know?"
"I didn't see them on her."
"That doesn't mean anything, Tony. So, what did she tell you about this Amanda Kelley?"
"She said that she was really intelligent, but not real bright, and that sometimes she would assume Rosalie's identity. Said she had a degree in biochemistry, but didn't have a clue as to what she might be up to."
"Hm. OK. Is there anything else she might have said that might be of interest?"
"She said that she was looking for this Amanda Kelley as well, and that she had ways of finding her other than the way that the police and the FBI did."
"Well, if she's a friend of this Amanda Kelley, she probably would. Accepting for a moment the premise that Amanda and Rosalie are two different people."
"She also told me that sometimes Amanda Kelley goes by the name of Rose Jacobs."
"Rose Jacobs, Rosalie Jakubauskas. Yes, I can see that." He was quiet for a minute. "OK, anything else? Anything at all?"
I thought really hard. "No, I'm sorry."
"Any idea who else might have seen her?"
"Well, she would have had to come in through the front door. Maybe the person who checks IDs saw her."
"Any idea who was on when she would have come through?"
"No, I'm sorry."
"That's all right. It's easy enough to find out. OK, Tony, you've given us a lot to work with here. Thanks." He hung up the phone.
I put the phone on the cradle and thought about what I had done. Rosalie would probably never speak to me again. On the other hand, that might not be such a bad thing.