The Watchers 26

She wanted me to do it

“In all my years I’ve never seen a more idiotic display of behavior,” Judge Banks said from her bench.

Blackfoot sat behind the defendant watching the young woman’s every move. He wasn’t on the case any longer, but no one said he couldn’t attend the court case that almost got him fired.

She wore the requisite orange jumpsuit. Her hair was matted and sticking up in all directions on her head. She was fidgeting and mumbling to herself. She looked even worse than the night of her arrest and she’d barely been conscious then.

Blackfoot had seen a lot of mental health cases. The woman showed the textbook signs of a mental problem of some sort. It was obvious something was off with her. Blackfoot was surprised the woman’s lawyers hadn’t forgone the entire process and just entered a plea of insanity which wasn’t hard to believe, but they hadn’t.

Blackfoot looked around the courtroom. There were very few people and none appeared to be there for the defendant.  The charges were pretty steep but she didn’t have one person in the courtroom there for her.

It didn’t sit right by him, but he wasn’t surprised. It was typical of the mental health cases he’d had before where the family abandoned them in their time of need. Years of episodes would wear their patience until they cut themselves loose for self-preservation. It was tough, but that’s how many ended up slipping through the cracks. Blackfoot hoped while she was in jail she got the help she needed, but he doubted it.

He’d already watched her partner in crime get his sentencing. Jeremy had been cool to the bitter end quietly listening to the judge. However, unlike him Jenna wasn’t ready to just take whatever the judge had to say.

“Futhermore, I have determined since apparently Ms. Trubadour you were the mastermind behind this idiotic crime you will be punished to the full extent of my authority. This court sentences you to seventy-two months minimum at the Women’s Correctional Facility.”

Blackfoot watched the young woman as the judge’s words registered. Her entire body tensed suddenly. Her feet were shackled and her hands were cuffed in front of her, but it didn’t stop her from throwing her body against the table and then scoot over it. She almost made it to the judge’s bench when she was tackled by a guard.

“You can’t do this,” the woman screamed as she wrestled with the guards to be heard. “She paid me to do it,” she yelled over and over. “She wanted me to do it,” the woman screamed as she was dragged to the door and the judge banged her gavel on her desk for order.

The entire court was on their feet watching as the guards tussled with the snarling woman shocked into silence. The woman’s wails of outrage could be heard even as they dragged her down the hallway towards the holding cells in the back.   

“We’re going to take a break,” the judge said her voice trembling as she tried to regain her composure. “We will return in one hour. The court is in recess.”

Blackfoot followed the others out of the courtroom. The Davenport case was finally finished.  

The past month had been rough. Since he’d met Trina Davenport, his life, had been a roller coaster. When the case landed in his lap, he’d thought it would be a simple open and shut, but it had turned out to be a near career ender for him.

Davenport had become a thorn in his side. She’d thrown his life for a loop. She’d beat him up and almost had him fired. Yet here he was still unable to let it go. 

Blackfoot walked to his cruiser elated the case was over, but he couldn’t shake the funk he was in. The surprising news of Mrs. Davenport’s death that morning clouded it. He’d gotten the news along with everyone else at the precinct during morning meeting.

Like everyone else he was shocked to hear the news. No one even knew she had cancer. He hated that Mrs. Davenport hadn’t lived to see her daughter’s attackers put in jail. It made him sick to his stomach. It also made him sick to his stomach that he couldn’t pay his respects to the family. He knew he was probably the last person they wanted to see at this time but he felt compelled to say something.

It just wasn’t right, but he knew his feelings didn’t matter now. The family was grieving and that took precedence over everything else. Any grief he felt could wait. He knew it was just a fraction of what the Davenport family was feeling to have lost Ms. Ophelia.

Blackfoot didn’t believe in rocking the boat, but he also didn’t believe in being an asshole. However, there was no way he and Trina were going to be able to avoid each other forever.

It was a small town and he believed it would be best to get it over with sooner rather than later. He’d give the family time, but he intended on making things right. Rather sooner than later. He was confused by it but the truth was Trina was never too far from his mind. It was like she’d invaded his life. He even saw her a couple of times around town, or he thought he saw her. It was turning into an unhealthy obsession.

Regardless of what had happened between them. Although he regretted it, he now felt like it was inevitable. There was something between them he just didn’t understand. The woman fascinated him like no other. It was just a matter of time before their paths crossed again. He was certain of it.

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My name isn’t Wilson anymore

The day Ophelia Davenport was buried the entire city shut down for an hour. Even strangers to the woman and her legacy paid their respects stopping in the street as her procession passed through the quiet streets. The police escorted the mourners through to the church and then to the hillside graveyard where the Davenport girls laid their mother to rest.

There were a few distant relatives and their mother’s closest and dearest friends sitting next to the girls but the majority of attendees surrounding them weren’t relatives of the woman. They were the family that she’d created during her many years.

If asked none would have been able to name a single relative of the dead woman. She never talked about her relatives. Her family was her late husband’s family and that was all they’d ever known of her. Where she was from or who her people were no one talked about. It was the rich life she’d created they were there to celebrate not the one she’d been born into.

When it was over the limousine went back to the Davenport house for repass. Words of comfort were said, and promises made to visit more over platters of food.

As the sun set and the night grew colder one by one the mourners disappeared until it was just Zuri, Leena and Liza left.

The house was eerily quiet. Leena put Zuri to bed, and then came back into the kitchen to help put away the food. 

“Do you think she’s still here, you know her spirit,” Leena asked. She’d been stoic all day, but Liza could see the puffy redness around her eyes. The emotional toll of the day showed on her face and the way she dragged her body around the kitchen. 

“Maybe,” Liza said closing the dishwasher.

“What do we do now?” Leena said her voice hollow.

“We carry on just like Mama would have wanted it,” Liza said. “We keep working, we keep trying, we keep going.” Leena pulled her into a hug. Sobbing, she held her tightly. Liza could feel the damp tears wetting her grey t-shirt.

“I miss her so much,” Leena said.

“I do too,” Liza said, and a part of her meant it. She missed what Ophelia Davenport represented those first few days she arrived before her memory had returned. The Davenports had taken her in and given her a priceless gift- the gift of family, and regardless of the circumstance that brought her there, Liza had decided that this was her family now. No one and nothing was going to take that away from her.

She may not be Zuri’s real mother, but Liza cared for the little girl. She didn’t deserve for her life to fall apart. Liza wanted more for her and she had the means to make it happen.

“But we’ve got each other now, right,” Liza said. Leena inhaled deeply, nodding.

“Right, and we have to make sure that everything our parents worked for continues on. Zuri’s depending on each of us, and so is everyone down at the diner. Tomorrow morning we’ll get up and we open as usual. That’s what Mama and Daddy would have wanted.”

With a plan in place both women retired to their rooms. Liza lay in bed for a couple of hours then got up and changed her clothes. Pulling on a pair of black pants and a black sweater she prepared herself for the next step. It was 3:33 a.m. It was time to go; it was time to end this.

Liza ran through the streets at a light jog. Making sure to stay in the shadows she set a quick pace. She’d timed it already. Liza knew exactly how long it should take to get to her destination and get back, but this would be the first time she’d gone on foot from the Davenport’s house. Planning cut down on mistakes, but even the best laid plans could go to pot in a split second. Liza had no back up plan. She had to trust it would work out. All is well.

The streets were quiet, and slick with rain. There were wet patches but luckily there was no ice. She was a few blocks from the second safe house when she heard a noise that stood out from the usual night sounds. Hiding behind a line of cars on a side alley, Liza waited. It didn’t take long before she caught sight of him.

It was dark but she could clearly see the outline of a man about 6’1, dark skinned with a slight build. Liza waited until he passed her, then followed. He walked for a block before he ducked in an alley.

Pulling her gun from her jacket pocket she was on him before he could defend himself.

“Hand’s up,” Liza said pushing the man to his knees against the wall. He tried to turn around but she hit him twice with the barrel of her gun on the side of his head. Not hard enough to knock him out but enough to let him know she meant business. He groaned into his arm hissing at the pain as he grabbed the side of his face.

“Keep them up, chief,” Liza said searching with one hand as she used the other to keep the barrel of the gun against the back of his head.

“Wwww-wait,” the man said but by then Liza had already pulled the man’s gun from his waistband. Why hadn’t he drawn on me? She raised the gun.

“All is well,” the man gasped on the ground. Liza caught his profile in the light from the lamp post. Cursing Liza lowered her weapon.

 “What the hell are you doing here?” 

“I should be asking you the same thing,” Wilson said blood dripping from his bottom lip. It was already beginning to swell.

“No, you shouldn’t because you’re supposed to be at headquarters. Do they know you’re gone?” Liza said stepping further into the shadows keeping her eyes on the alley in case he wasn’t alone.

“No,” he shook his head, and then peeked at her, “I don’t know.”

“Jesus Christ,” Liza cursed. Crouching she pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and handed it to him. “Get down,” she said pulling Wilson’s hand until he was next to her against the wall.

“They sent me off base since you left. Apparently, I’m no good without you,” Wilson said bitterness creeping into his voice.

            “So you decided it was a good idea to track me here? Are you crazy? If they catch you there’s nothing I can do. You’re good as dead.”

            “They don’t know you’re here,” Wilson said.

            “The hell they don’t. I’ve had two tails that I’ve counted, not including you. Someone knows something. They drop in and out, but they know.” Liza saw the look of fear pass over Wilson’s face although he tried to cover it. “Truth, why’d you come?”

            “I,” Wilson said suddenly looking lost, “I thought you might need my help.” Liza stared at her husband. She didn’t know whether to laugh or to feel sorry for him.

She hadn’t wanted to marry him, but she’d been backed against a wall. Wilson wasn’t an American citizen and they needed his intel for a case they were working a decade ago. Unlike her he’d come from a family that gave a damn about him. He’d had a life before coming to Central so there were measures they had to take for him to join and still keep his persona intact which was valuable to the mission they were working at the time. In order to get him to comply Central gave him what he wanted. At the time what he wanted was Liza.

When the job ended, however, she was stuck with a husband that seemed to have no other purpose beyond the data they had obtained.

Liza had been given the option of terminating him then, but she grew to like the idea of having a family of my own, but of course it had never worked out. It didn’t take long for her to realize she’d made a mistake especially as he became more of a liability with each passing year.

“They made me give them my badge,” Wilson said. “My name isn’t Wilson anymore.”

            “What did you say?” Liza said his words sinking in.

            “My name is Michael Ray. See,” he said reaching in his jacket pocket pulling out a well-used passport.

            “What did you do?” Liza said feeling the weight of both their guns in her hands.

            “I, I- I they didn’t give me a choice,” Wilson said as he struggled to his feet. “That’s what I came to tell you. They gave me an assignment. You know how it is, they tell you to do something, you do it.”

            “What did you do?” Liza said again.

            “I took the envelope to the address. It had pages from your Central file in it. The one with your information, your real information.”

Liza raised his gun shooting one shot in the center of Wilson’s head. He dropped less than a second later. Sighing Liza looked down at the once handsome man. There was no going back now.

Liza dragged his body behind a dumpster hiding him from the view of the street. She dropped his passport on his chest. A second later she was sprinting full throttle across the street towards the line of woods leading to her second safe house.

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