Title of Story: Sacrifices to a Worthy Cause

Author: Joel T. Kant

Date Written: August 2000, heavily modified March 2, 2019

Chapter Title: A New Gordon Fink

Chapter Number: Fourteen

Copyright: March 2, 2019


Joyce remained in a bad mood, but Jason cheered up when he heard they were to steal another car. He loved stealing cars. Trying to cheer Joyce up, Jason and Iris let her pick the new car. She picked a dark blue car. It looked sporty, but had the required very large trunk. This time, it took Jason an entire three minutes to get in and start it. They were soon on the road again. Jason began his anti-tailing maneuvers.

As they were doing that, the Falkowskys brothers, Conrad Morrow, and Dr. Ruby were in a hotel room. Dr. Ruby ended the call on his cell phone. He turned toward the curious and expectant Fritz, John, and Conrad.

Dr. Ruby said, "That was Officer McCormick. He found Christine at her house. Vicky was there too. They were both using a computer. They told McCormick they had important information that they had to get the police and Entangle immediately. Fritz, Christine's not supposed to know about Entangle."

Fritz defended himself, "You know perfectly well she's known for over a year. That's old news. It's only her use of my cell phone to contact you that's new."

John added, "McCormick told me that he's known about Entangle longer than Fritz and I have."

"What is Entangle?" Conrad asked.

The others in the room ignored that question.

Dr. Ruby continued, "McCormick advised them not to say anything. He then informed Christine she was under arrest. He read her her rights. After that, Christine still demanded she tell him what she and Vicky had found. McCormick suggested that valuable information is often traded for having the charges reduced or dropped, but she should speak to a lawyer first. She claimed people's lives were in danger and she couldn't wait. After she told McCormick the information, he contacted Chief Clymer. Clymer was so impressed that he immediately rescinded the arrest warrant. Quite frankly, I'm impressed too. It almost makes up for the harm Christine has done during this case. It was Clymer who told McCormick to call my cell phone."

"What was the information?" Fritz asked, wondering what had so impressed his boss.

"Mr. Morrow was right about Vicky getting into the Port City Police computer. She found somebody else besides her had also broken in at the same times, but wasn't hiding his tracks nearly as well as she was. She tracked down the other hacker and got his phone number and address. It's the same one Iris told me and also the same one the system administrator got through the trace and reported to Fritz. The administrator never found traces of Vicky at all."

John whistled, "That really confirms it! I'm impressed by my girlfriend's computer skills. She's way better than Fritz at that."

Fritz, who prided himself on his computer skills, frowned. However, he really did know John was right.

Dr. Ruby announced, "That's not all. Vicky then hacked into Tomlin's computer. She managed to grab some files off it. She and Christine think two files are very important. Vicky is e-mailing them to Fritz right now."

Fritz checked the laptop and found he had a message. He opened the attached file. Everybody came and peered at the screen. That file told where the Obliterators acquired their toxic gas.

Fritz stated, "McCormick was right! They could have traded this information for a Get Out of Jail Free card!"

Dr. Ruby conceded, "Officer McCormick and Chief Clymer made the right choice in rescinding the arrest warrant."

Another e-mail came from Vicky. Fritz opened up that one. In contained a map. Marked on the map was where the poison gas device was to be placed. It was at a street corner slightly over two miles from the convention center. Fritz, John, and Conrad all knew the corner. Conrad didn't know the gadget wasn't a conventional explosive, but rather a device to release poison gas, so was confused why a bomb would be placed there. The others knew and understood that this street corner was picked because prevailing wind direction and tall buildings formed an artificial valley that would channel the poison gas to drift to the convention center where the President was going to be.

Fritz said, "I've got another e-mail, but this one is from the system administrator at the Port City Police. The hacker didn't break into the computer system, he was allowed in by a deliberate security hole! The administrator said that Port City Police hired an outside contractor to rid their computers of a nasty virus two weeks ago. The outside contractor got rid of the virus, but it seems he put in a back door to let him into the computer system whenever he wanted. The administrator had no idea this was there until I told him to look for a hacker."

Dr. Ruby said, "The problem we've had with the Port City Police might not be with a current employee at all. It could be this breach in computer security. Hang on while I call Chief Clymer."

Dr. Ruby made the call and talked for a while.

When he hung up, he said, "The outside contractor was a short, slender man. He's under ninety pounds. He has black hair and a mustache. He hasn't been seen since successfully ridding the computer system of the virus."

Fritz speculated, "I'll bet he found it easy to remove the virus because he caused the infection in the first place!"

"It could be," Dr. Ruby said. "The security breach is now closed, so I think we can trust the Port City Police again. Be on the lookout for a man matching the description of the contractor."

John stood, wincing as he did so, "We have the address of the hacker! I'll bet that man is there, as well as Joyce, Jason, and Iris. Let's get going!"

Dr. Ruby said, "Not you, John."

"Of course, I'm coming! I'm sore, but I'm not a cripple! I want to be there when we find Iris!"

Dr. Ruby barked, "You're not in condition to run or fight. I want you here, scanning the television and radio and manning the phone and computer. We have to know immediately when the media learns you and Fritz are alive. Believe me, given that radio report, they soon will."

John snarled, "I'm coming along!"

Dr. Ruby said, "When the media learns you and Fritz are alive, that may blow Iris's cover. By not staying and doing your job, you may cause her to be harmed!"

John slowly nodded. He didn't like this, but did see its importance. Secretly, he fantasized about rescuing Iris himself, but would never admit that.

"Fritz, I want you to go to the address in the suburbs. Chief Clymer is sending his officers in, but first he has to notify half a dozen government agencies about what is going on. He has to do that because the President's giving a speech at the convention center in an hour and there is a protocol when he's in town. Events should be over at the house before you can get there, but I want you to go anyway."

Fritz asked, "How do I get there? John's motorcycle has a flat tire and the SUV is still blown up."

Dr. Ruby paused as he reflected about that, then addressed Conrad, "Mr. Morrow, would you like to work for Entangle?"

"I don't even know what Entangle is."

John urged Conrad, "Just say yes. We don't have time to discuss it. Iris's in danger."

Conrad said, "Yes."

Dr. Ruby yanked out a contract from his briefcase. Conrad signed it.

"Welcome to Entangle, Mr. Morrow. I want you to drive Fritz in your car. However, take a few minutes before you go. Here's my disguise kit."

Dr. Ruby pulled this kit from his briefcase. This was the same kit from which John had taken a wig, fake mustache, and glasses earlier. The kit had make-up remaining in it.

Conrad took hold of the kit, bafflement showing on his face.

"Fritz and John will put the make-up on you. Make him look as much like Gordon Fink as you can in a few minutes. He's got a similar physique."

Conrad asked, "Why that loser?"

Dr. Ruby explained the mistake in identities that Joyce and Jason had made. John, Fritz, and Conrad found it hilarious that they thought Gordon Fink was a super-skilled Entangle Agent.

Dr. Ruby added, "I don't know whether such a disguise will help or not, but I have a feeling it might. Given what Iris said, they may be so scared of Agent Fink that they'll act incautiously if they see him."

"What are you going to do, Dr. Ruby?" John asked.

"As a fail safe, I'm going to the location where the device is supposed to be placed. Get busy."

Dr. Ruby left the room while Fritz and John applied make-up to Conrad. Conrad still didn't look much like Gordon Fink.

Fritz looked Conrad over, "You're not as fat as Fink."

John grabbed a pillow was from the bed. After that was used to make Conrad look fatter, both Falkowsky boys were satisfied that Conrad would pass for Gordon Fink as long as they didn't meet anybody who knew the man.

Fritz and Conrad then left. With its glass packs instead of regular mufflers, John could hear the hot rod leaving even though he was up on the third floor in the hotel room.

John felt as useless as he ever had on a case. While he was typing away on the laptop, checking his cell phone, and skipping through television channels, everybody else had gone into action. He stopped flipping television stations as one had an interview with a man who looked vaguely familiar.

It was an interview with the mall guard named Bob who had helped shoo people away from the Falkowskys' SUV after hearing it had a bomb in it. He was the one who had recognized Fritz and John Falkowsky as the most famous high school detectives in the world.

The guard described his co-worker, Gordon Fink, in ridiculously glowing terms. He showed a blurry photograph of Gordon to the newsman. The way he said it, it seemed Gordon had appeared unexpectedly for the mall security job and already done great things. He hinted that Gordon had mentioned stories of a mysterious, exciting, dangerous past. He added he was glad a great hero like Gordon hadn't been too seriously injured by the bomb blast. As far as John knew, the real Gordon Fink was still in the hospital. John smiled. He didn't know if Dr. Ruby or Chief Clymer had set this up, but one of them had to have done it! He felt this report had been staged deliberately. Nobody who worked with Gordon Fink for any length of time would give him such glowing praise.

While interesting, John decided this wasn't worth contacting the others about. He returned to channel surfing. He stopped again when he found a report about two bodies not apparently missing from the morgue. There were no vampire jokes as with the earlier radio report. The television reporter also had the Falkowskys names. Worse, the reporter announced that an extensive search had also been made of the hospital's records of Iris Morrow.

It turned out the doctor who had put the stitches in John's back had grown curious about the death of the woman a little over three years ago in the earlier car explosion. He soon found out her name was Iris Morrow. He'd requested her autopsy report. However, no autopsy report had been found, although this was indeed the hospital involved in the case. The media had not only found out about the disappearance of Fritz and John's bodies, but also about Iris's missing autopsy report. The newscaster speculated on a connection.

A photograph of Iris was shown. This was a more recent photograph than the one shown earlier. That previous one had come from the high school yearbook and been a posed glamour shot, then shrunken to yearbook photo size. The new photograph had been taken by Christine only days before Iris's death. Iris was far more recognizable as herself in it, with a more natural pose and expression. John knew the picture because Christine had several copies made. She had given a copy to John, to Conrad, and to Mr. and Mrs. Morrow.

The reporter explained that this photograph had been provided by Mr. and Mrs. Morrow. John thought how being so secretive caused problems like this. Iris's parents had no way of knowing providing this photograph of their missing daughter would place her in great danger.

John realized that if the bad guys had seen this, Iris's cover was surely blown! Now, he felt Dr. Ruby was right about the importance of his job.

As he was pushing the number on his smartphone to dialed Fritz's number, the room's door was kicked in! A half dozen black-suited men rushed in. They had black masks that covered most of their faces. They all carried rifles or pistols. Several at the same time screamed at John to drop the phone and put his hands over his head. John put his hands over his head, then said whom he worked for and it was life-or-death that he make a phone call. None of the men seemed to pay any attention. John was shoved against a wall. His feet were kicked apart, which made him gasp as it caused pain in his already sore back.

Chapter Fifteen--The Poison Gas Device

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