Sound Of Silence
Author: Rose Hala

Chapter 14
Sound Of Silence by Rose Hala

CHAPTER 14

“God, you all look like I feel.” Mac said as he sat at the table. He wasn’t surprised that there were no comments from anyone. They had all been up since before dawn, and he and Stan had been up during the night attending to Maria.

When Maggie had taken Maria a tray earlier, she found her struggling to button her shirt. She left the tray and walked out the door, returning a few moments later with a top that was off the shoulder on one side. Maria was grateful. Her shoulder was better but still painful and she needed to keep it as still as possible. She gulped down the cup of coffee on the tray and headed downstairs for at least a couple more.

Debbie felt a little guilty. She had instigated their lovemaking and it had just gone on and on. Stan had already been awake most of the night when he had returned, she should have let him get some sleep. As she looked across at him, he winked at her and she did something she hadn’t done in years…she blushed like a school girl. And this wasn’t your delicate English rose blush. No, no, this was a fiery red blush, from a fiery Irish redhead.

Daniel, Carl, Utah and Samuel were very surprised and, as for Steven, he was struck dumb. None of them had ever seen their pilot blush; annoyed at something, or more often than not, somebody. Yes, plenty of times. But, blushing? No way, never.

Debbie picked up her cup and gave them ‘the look’. Actually, ‘the look’ was more of a promissory glare that said, “ Say one thing, anything smart or cocky and you will wear this cup of coffee in about two seconds flat.”

Nobody said a word, they had seen her impose that look before; right before she tipped ice cold coke over a few smart mouthed guys in night-clubs before today. This was one redhead who never made empty threats.

The plan had been for everyone to get up very early to get a jump on Peter and they had already made great headway. Peter still didn’t know he had lost all his agents and that, not only was Mac still in the game, he had pinched all of his best hitters. He was going to be

one very pissed off Head of F.B.I. when he found out. Mac knew, with Peter in that frame of mind, he wouldn’t hesitate to arrest them over the slightest infringement.

All the evidence that they so painstakingly collected yesterday would be rendered off limits. If they so much as tried to look at it, they could be classed as ‘tampering with evidence’.

“ We’ve done well this morning. We’ve gotten all the duplicate photos and completed the paperwork. We don’t need to worry about the plane fragments or personal gear. We can look over those at our leisure. My only concern is the tour schedule falling into the wrong hands so I have an idea. Steven, go over the personal effects now with the guys, secure the originals, and then create a bogus schedule with altered dates and venues. That's what you'll present to whoever wants to look."

"Alright, let's get this done,” Steven said to the band. “ I have a feeling the shit's going to hit the fan again real soon.”

Daniel was concerned about his family, most especially, Jiayi and her school friend Diana.

That business with the truck had made him realize how deadly serious and dangerous these criminals were. They didn’t care what they did in their efforts to get their drugs.

“Mac, I don’t want Jiayi and Diana to stay here. The situation is potentially volatile and they’re too young to be exposed to this. I’m going to send them to the Robertson’s at the neighboring ranch. They can ride the horses over there when they get up.” Mac nodded.

“That’s a good idea. Perhaps it would be better if anyone not directly involved stayed in town.” He looked at Rachel. “What about you? What do you want to do?”

Rachel quickly put her hand in Samuel’s,

“ I’m staying with him.”

“Honey, don’t you think you would be safer if you stayed in town? These people are playing for keeps, Babe.” Samuel raised her hand and kissed the back of it. “I don’t want you to get hurt, Mon chéri.”

“No! Oh Sam, no. Don’t ask me to do this. You leave for the tour soon and we already have so little time together. I would rather risk being hurt by your side than stay safe on my own. Please, Darling. You have to let me stay with you.” Rachel pulled his head down and kissed him. She thrust her tongue in his mouth and played with cat and mouse with his. Rachel knew she was fighting dirty, but she didn’t care. This was one argument she intended winning. She would do whatever it took to stay.

“Ah hmm!” Dear God, what a kiss. Mac grinned at Samuel’s reaction.

“I don’t think you’re going anywhere young lady.”

“You ok, there brother?” Daniel asked quizzically.

“I think he needs another bucket of water.” Carl remembered an incident in Samuel’s past when a man didn’t like the way he had been singing and threw a bucket of water at his face. There were chuckles all round as the guys knew what Carl was referring to.

Samuel would dearly love to go and punch his brothers, especially the cheeky Spanish one but, at the moment he was too damn tight in the jean department to even stand up.

One thing was for certain, though. Rachel had won, she was going no where except to his bed later.

 

“You look a whole lot better than the last time I saw you.” Mac said to Maria as she entered the room and made a beeline for the coffee pot.

“ I feel much better. Thank you. Now when am I going to be able to get my truck repaired? I need to get back on the road so I can get my delivery to Canada.”

“I’m sorry, Maria. We need to examine everything. Your brake line was cut and we want to know why.”

“But, I’m only carrying props, staging systems and some electronic gear. Why would any one want to steal that stuff?”

“I never said anyone wanted to steal anything. I believe this is a tactical maneuver. I don’t think the criminal masterminds would risk this kind of damage to the vehicle if their merchandise was on board. I’m sure we won’t find anything.” Mac laughed as Maria gave him the same “Are you an alien? look” she had given him on the side of the highway. Only innocent people gave the police that “are you mad” look. Criminals knew too damn much. Police procedures were well known to most of them.

“Look, I know you’re a bit confused and I don’t blame you but there’s not a lot I can tell you at this stage. This is linked to an ongoing federal investigation.” Mac decided to leave out the fact he no longer worked for the F.B.I. There was no sense in confusing her further.

“ Mac, I need to make that delivery as soon as possible because that’s the only time I get paid. I can’t afford to have the truck off the road.” Knowing what he was going to say, Maria raised her hand to stop him.

“Yes, Mac. I am insured for mechanical failure and the like, but I’m not sure if the insurance company will accept this situation as mechanical failure. They might think I had something to do with it.”

Maria pulled her timetable out of her jeans pocket and gave it to Mac, pointing out the words at the bottom of the page.

“Delivery Instructions:

URGENT UPDATE - GOODS NEEDED IN MONTREAL. PRIORORITY: HIGH

BONUS @ FAST DELIVERY.”

“I was looking forward to that bonus, Mac. I don’t get these kind of jobs every day and I don’t want to lose this. The stuff I’m hauling is for a concert and they must have bumped up the date and changed the venue.”

“What?”

“Changed? What do you mean the venue is changed?”

“No way! They can’t have!”

“What do you mean, changed the venue? How the hell can it be changed? The tickets have already been sold.” Steven was on his feet now and was looking decidedly annoyed.

“There must be some kind of mistake. How can they do that with out telling us?”

Maria was confused as she listened. She hadn't been introduced to any of them. She had no idea she was hauling was for their concert. Rachel could see it by the look on her face.

"Maria, I'm sorry. You haven't met anybody. This is Daniel, this is Carl, this is Utah, and this is Samuel. Together they are known as The Choir Boys. This is the group who will be using the equipment you are carrying in your truck.”

Maria’s eyes widened like saucers. She opened her mouth a couple of times, but words wouldn’t come. It might have been the first time in her life that she was rendered speechless. Utah thrust a cup of coffee in her hand as she lowered herself into the nearest chair. She took a much needed sip then found her voice.

“Oh, my God. Are you telling me that I’ve been standing next to superstars? Celebrity superstars? And I didn’t even know it? You guys must think I’m some kind of nutcase. Lord, I suppose you’ve been on T.V. as well!” They all laughed and nodded. “Oh, hell. I’m on the road so much I don’t get the chance to watch much television. I am so sorry. I feel so stupid. I’ve hauled your stuff across the border a few times now and I never took the time to find out anything about you. I am really sorry.” Utah put his hand on her good shoulder.

“Please. There’s no need to apologize, we should have introduced ourselves to you earlier. We are extremely grateful for your good handling of our equipment.” As he spoke, Utah refilled her empty cup. Maria accepted it absently, as she still stunned by the news that what she was hauling actually was for these superstars standing in front of her.

Mac pulled his hand away quickly when Steven reached for the note from Maria.

"Sorry, Steven. There are probably prints on this paper. It'll be a huge break if there are. We don’t normally get important pieces of evidence so soon in an investigation. Someone wrote the note to divert the truck but obviously someone else didn’t think that would be enough of a delay. Whoever wrote this had to have left something behind. It's just a matter of finding it." Mac wanted the crime lab to use the fumes from Superglue to "photolift" any prints without damaging the paper. It was extremely accurate and admissible in court, especially when it was supported by lab analysis of the handwriting.

Janey opened an evidence bag. Mac slipped the note inside and then tucked it in his breast pocket. They had uncovered this clue outside F.B.I. status and, until he had this examined by people he trusted, he wasn’t handing it over to anyone.

“When did you receive the note, Maria? Who gave it to you?”

"I don’t receive notes personally. It was clipped to my board in the depot in LA. I just grabbed it, replaced it with an empty one, and then left."

“So you have the clipboard with you.”

“Yes, its in the hold in the cab. I’m blooming hopeless with bits of paper, so use clipboards. I tucked this note in my pocket because I didn’t want the other truck drivers to see the part about the bonus. Some of the guys get a bit funny about a women earning more than they do.”

Mac was getting excited.

“ I need to bag that clipboard. This is a great find.”

The agents knew what was going on, but the rest looked totally confused. Samuel couldn’t stand it. He had to know.

“What the hell is so exciting about that, Mac?”

The agents looked at each other, rolled their eyes, and smiled. This was like Detective School 101. Mac watched his team’s reaction had to take a few deep breaths to stop from laughing out loud.

“The clip at the top if the board is the absolute best surface for retrieving prints. It’s shiny and smooth and has to be pressed hard to open. We’ll undoubtedly get something we can work with from it.

Steven looked at the clock and stood.

“Come on, Guys. It’s 8:15. Let’s get a move on before we have Agent Sands following us around.”

Mac put up his hand to stop them.

“From now on, everything we do and anything we find is kept strictly between the people in this room. When we need to meet to compare notes and discuss what we’ve found, we go through Maggie. She’ll say there’s a picnic and will give you the date and the time. You’ll already know it’s at The Lookout. Make sure you check the kitchen before you leave. She’ll have baskets prepared.”

Daniel thought about the conversation he was going to have to have with his baby sister. She was going to give him merry hell about leaving. Thank God Diana was here. She would be the key to getting his sister to safer territory. Hopefully, Jiayi would understand when Daniel explained his concern for the safety of their guest. Since Diana didn’t know the Robertson’s, she couldn’t very well stay there on her own. With his sister safe, he could concentrate. Today had already been a hell of a day and it was only 8.30AM. God help them all tomorrow.

 

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