Title of Story: Sacrifices to a Worthy Cause

Author: Joel T. Kant

Date Written: August 2000, heavily modified Feb. 23, 2019

Chapter Title: Won't You Invite Me In?

Chapter Number: Six


John pulled a helmet off a shelf in the garage, which he wiped clean with a towel as it was dusty and dirty. He put the helmet on. He wheeled out one of the bikes. The battery was dead after years without use, as John had expected. The gas tank was also empty. He had burned the gas out of both machines on purpose to protect them for the winter, but that was three winters ago now. There was a five gallon jerry can with fresh gasoline for the lawn mower, though. John filled the tank on the motorcycle from it. He then tried the motor with the kickstarter. He stopped after one try, touched his back, but seemed fine. He kicked again and again, then with a cloud of blue smoke, the long unused motorbike started up.

He consulted his smart phone when riding. He was soon where three pay phones stood in a row, all currently unused. Sounds of airplanes were loud overhead. He read the numbers on the payphones, with the one he sought being printed on the third in the line. He was glad pay phone use had gotten so rare, as otherwise he feared this would not have worked. With the ultraviolet light and dust, he brought out fingerprints on the pay phone.

He took images with the camera on the smart phone. He then looked closely at the smart phone. Because of what he and Fritz did for a living, it had an app to send the prints to the F.B.I. However, he did not use that. Instead, he tried to enter a directory that needed a special password, even on his own phone. He flubbed the password twice as his fingers shook, then got it on the third try. A comparison between that private file and the fingerprints on the pay phone was a perfect match. The name on the private image file read Iris Morrow!

John walked slowly in a circle around the payphones, looking at the various hotels and motels in close range. He recalled one particularly dingy motel had a reputation for accepting cash rather than credit cards, and not much required in the way of a photographic I.D. He climbed on his bike, started it, and motored to the motel parking lot even though a short walking distance away. He drove slowly up and down the parking lot. He noticed a parked yellow car. He looked on his hand where the license number was still faintly visible despite his handwashings since then. It matched the number on the car.

John crawled on some distance further, then parked his motorbike by around a dozen other motorcycles.

He entered the motel. In front of the main desk was a lobby with some overstuffed chairs with tall backs and overly ornate but chipped, stained, and battered tables. Seated near one table was a man with long black hair. He wore a leather coat. John wished he had a coat like that. His own coat was of brown fabric had let the wind rip right through it when at highway speed. John noticed this man's nose looked like it had been broken and healed crookedly. He was definitely the one he had seen placing the bomb in the SUV.

John couldn't see who was in the other chair because of the tall chair back, but saw only artificially-dyed garish red hair. He shivered, and that made him feel a throb in his back. Surely riding a motorcycle was not what the doctor had meant by taking it easy. Despite wanting to gaze at the woman in the chair for confirmation, he kept his gaze forward as he strode straight to the main desk.

The desk clerk said to him, "Need a room?"

Disguising his voice, John said, "Nah, meeting a bunch of buddies."

The clerk looked at how John was appareled, gestured with his thumb, and said, "Down the hall, all first floor so they can look out the windows at their bikes. Nobody but bikers there."

John nodded, then headed in the way indicated. He merely went around the corner so out of sight of those in the lobby, then stopped.

After a couple minutes, and apparently not concerned about the desk clerk overhearing, the black-haired man with the crooked nose asked the red-haired woman, "Karen, why were you at that pay phone?"

The voice that answered was one that John had not heard in three years, but instantly recognized as Iris's voice as she answered, "I don't want to talk about it in the lobby, Jason."

"Fine, Joyce can find us in the room. Let's go there and talk," Jason replied.

John moved fast as they came toward him as the elevators were also down this hallway. He got around a corner in time. Not daring to peer around the corner, he heard the ding of the elevator. After sufficient time to have the elevator doors close, he came around the corner. He was relieved to see the display next to the elevator showed the floor it was on. It has stopped at the third floor.

A staircase was next to the elevator. He hurried up, as well as his now aching back let him. Up on the third floor, he saw a door to a room was just closing. He backed off into the stairway for a couple minutes. He then strolled down the hallway of the third floor. The door that he had seen closing was marked 304.

It is easier for people to hear their own names than most things, which was the only reason John faintly heard his last name through the room door from the room next door to the suspects. He turned away from their room 304 and went to 302. He pressed an ear to that door. It was actually his brother Fritz, not him, being discussed in the phone conversation going on inside. As John listened, he grinned from ear to ear. He held his motorcycle helmet at his side.

He stepped back and rapped sharply on the door, "Room service."

From inside, John heard a familiar male voice, "Just a second."

John heard a faint click that he took to be a gun being cocked. John's face betrayed no concern as he took a few more steps back from the door to make himself clearly visible through the door's peephole, his big grin still plastered on his face.

The door opened a crack. An ordinary appearing man, his head partly bald, stood there, one arm hidden behind the door. A cell phone lay on the bed, screen glowing.

The man asked, "How on Earth?"

John asked in return, "Won't you invite me in?"

John treating this as a normal state of affairs left Dr. Ruby momentarily speechless as opened the door wider. He gestured John inside with his hand with the gun still in it.

After they were in room 302 with the door closed, Dr. Ruby quickly regained his composure. He put away his gun. He then picked up the cell phone in one hand. With the other hand, he pointed to an electronic stethoscope. John nodded in understanding. He put it on, then put the microphone end up against the wall that adjoined with room 304.

While John did that, Dr. Ruby said into the phone, "I'm back, Christine."

Through the earphones, John also heard Iris explaining, "Can't you get it through your head that Tomlin told me not to use a cell phone! He thinks Entangle has the technology and clout to listen in on those!"

Jason replied, "You were spying and reporting on us!"

Iris confirmed, "Of course I was! That's why Tomlin sent me!"

Meanwhile over away from the adjoining wall, Dr. Ruby said into the phone, "I cannot confirm or deny your speculations, but please keep them to yourself. Quit threatening me, young lady! Trust me, I'm not somebody you want to threaten. Even if you are correct and let word leak out, people's lives will be in great jeopardy. Yes, I will at least confirm I have forbidden Fritz from discussing this as part of his job. No, that doesn't confirm Iris is alive! No, I won't explain the danger! Please put Fritz on the phone like I asked you before!"

Through the earphones, John heard Iris explaining that he had given Tomlin a good report despite their failure to kill the Falkowskys. She explained that she told Tomlin that the interference of Gordon Fink had been something nobody could have foreseen.

On the phone, Dr. Ruby said in a quieter tone, "Hello, Fritz. Who is with you besides Christine? Who's Vicky?"

John was embarrassed Dr. Ruby didn't know Vicky. He had mentioned her to him more than once. John kept quiet, letting his brother answer.

Dr. Ruby continued, "Right, her! She never makes my life miserable the way your girlfriend does. I just got into town and I'd like to meet you, but not tonight. It's already very late. Go home and get some rest. Meet me for breakfast tomorrow at the Sunrise Grill at nine. You know it? Good. No, don't bring anybody! You want to bring John? He's already with me and won't be home all night. He can tell you how that happened himself tomorrow."

Dr. Ruby then said into the phone, "All right, bring Christine tomorrow, as she probably would attempt to follow you anyway. You could lose her, but it'd cause a delay. Don't bring Conrad, Leone, or Vicky. Particularly make sure Conrad doesn't follow you, but that should be easy. From what you told me, you could spot the hot rod he drives from miles away. He's hurting, but he might not be thinking logically. I'm glad you understand. Good night."

Dr. Ruby shut down the cell phone and set it on the nightstand.

Chapter Seven--Nerve Gas

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