Following an exhausting mission, Steve drove to his house with intent to soak in a hot bath before diving into bed to sleep through the weekend. As he entered, horror struck him. The living room was a complete shambles.
He treaded warily across the room, striding over objects scattered on the floor to make his way down the corridor leading to the bedrooms. He scanned each one from ceiling to floor, checking every closet for anyone hidden. When he opened the guest bedroom, he let out of gasp.
“What in the heck happened here?” he wondered out loud, unaware of the masked man standing to his left with his back plastered to the wall. Once Steve was in his view he pounced on him brandishing a butcher knife that he drove into the unsuspected victim. Steve barely had time to react that the blade slashed through his left lung, eliciting a loud gasp. His eyes widened in terror as he endeavoured to catch his breath. Feeling his victim’s body slacken against him he released his hold around Steve’s neck and let him collapse onto the floor.
With a triumphant grin, the assailant pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the blood off the blade. “You should have followed orders, Austin. Your stubbornness killed you, my friend” he sniggered, revelling in the pool of blood forming on the floor. “Sweet dreams.”
The man removed his ski mask and gave one last cursory glance around the living room to ensure he hadn’t overlooked any incriminating evidence before leaving the house. The banging of the door startled Steve’s out of his semi-conscious state. He wheezed in few breaths, the rattling in his lungs evidence that they were beginning to fill up with fluids. With one hand pressed firmly against the stab wound to stem the haemorrhage he dragged his body to the dresser and pulled at the telephone cord. Once the phone on the floor he drew in a deep stinging breath to summon his waning energy to dial Rudy’s number.
“Rudy Wells. Hello? Is anybody there?”
“R…Ru…Rudy,” Steve stammered in a voice barely above a whisper. “Rudy?
“Steve? Is that you?”
“C…come h…ho…house…now. St…st…stabbed,” he managed to finish before the throes of agony swallowed him whole.
“I’m on my way.”
Steve gave a feeble nod; the hand holding the receiver sluggishly dropped to the floor as he felt the last speck of strength fade away. “C…come on S…Steve. Hang on.” His eyes rolled back in his head but he fought the urge to surrender to the peaceful darkness beckoning him. “Don’t y…don’t you dare give up,” he breathed out in agony, his heart skipping beats at the enormous strain to keep the blood flowing.
His life was ebbing away; his breaths grew shallower by the minute; cyanosis spread evenly on his lips and glassy eyes stared blindly at the ceiling. Steve could no longer fight off the urge to slip into unconsciousness. The blood-crusted hand pressing against his wound slowly slipped to the side suggesting that the end was near. Tears filled his eyes as he made his peace with God. Then he drew once last breath and closed his eyes just as ambulance sirens blared in the distance.
“Steve! Oh my God!” Rudy yelped in shock as he witnessed the grisly sight before him. He knelt down beside the puddle of blood to grope Steve’s neck.
“Rudy? Is he alive?” Oscar queried, his blood running cold at the desponded look on Rudy’s face.
“I’m picking up a faint beat.” He shook his head dejectedly. “Let’s gets him to the hospital.” He and Oscar vacated their spots to allow the paramedics to prep Steve for his drive to the Medical Center.
Oscar quaffed one coffee cup after the other as he anxiously waited news on Steve’s condition. He glanced down at his watch for the umpteenth time and took his fiftieth trip down the hall. As he walked past the men’s room his bladder sounded the alarm. Casting a look at the operating room doors he dithered whether he had time to answer nature’s call before Rudy made an appearance.
Some ten minutes later Rudy slouched out of the OR wearing the woe of the world on his shoulders. Oscar needed not ask. The forlorn look was self-explanatory.
“He’s dead, isn’t he?” With downcast eyes Rudy gave a weak nod of the head. “Oh dear God.”
“The blade nicked the aorta and…well…it was too late to do anything,” Rudy explained, his heart bursting apart at the feeling of helpless that engulfed him.
Laden with sorrow Oscar strove to suppress the overwhelming urge to dissolve into tears. He managed, albeit with difficulty, to rein in his emotions, allowing just a discreet trickle down the corner of his eyes.
“Oscar.” He turned around and started to walk away “Oscar, I need to talk to you,” Rudy insisted. “Will you come with me?”
“Yes now. It’s important.” The grieving man followed the good doctor to a vacant office.
A few feet away, a janitor gave a few sweeps of the broom in the path of a pay phone. Looking both ways to spy any prying eyes or ears he picked up the receiver and dialled a private number. “That’s it. Austin’s dead. Doctor Wells just confirmed it.”
“Very good. You did a fine job,” praised the gruff voice at the other end. “Your money will be delivered at your apartment tonight.”
“Thank you Mister L. If there’s anything else you want me to do…”
“I know where to find you,” he finished with crushing sarcasm. He hung up the phone and smirked at the man standing across from his desk. “Phase one accomplished.”
“I don’t know why you had Austin killed. He was a valuable asset to the government.”
“That may be but he served no purpose to me, at least he didn’t in the last couple of months. He wasn’t docile enough for my taste”
“What did you expect him to do? You were assigning him suicide missions,” the cohort sassed.
“That’s what he was built for,” countered the head honcho. “You are paid to execute orders not to question my decisions, is that understood?” he warned, his eyes shooting daggers at his subordinate who wilted under his stare.
“Yes sir. Whatever you say, sir,” he hissed between clenched teeth, stewing in his own juices. He hated being indebted to this arrogant statesman who had thrown him a lifeline when word ran rampant that he would be replaced as head of the organization.
“We will soon proceed with phase two which is to convince Goldman to hire this new agent in replacement of Austin.”
“Easier said than done. I happen to know Goldman considered Austin like a brother.”
“Then we’ll just have to sing the praises of his new ‘brother’,” the man sneered, already relishing his triumphant victory over his nemesis he longed to boot out of office. “Before long our new man will have wormed himself into Goldman’s good graces to gain access to secret files. I’ll then use it to discredit him in the eyes of our government for leaking out confidential information.
“Your man better be up to the task. Oscar Goldman is not easily duped.”
“What about the guy that killed Austin? Aren’t you afraid he’ll snitch on you?”
“No I’m not. He’ll be taken care of tonight.”
“I see you’ve got all your bases covered.”
“I’ve been plotting my revenge for three years. So far everything is proceeding according to plan and I aim to reach my goal at all coat. Just remember that if you’re thinking of double-crossing me,” he cautioned sternly with an evil eye.
“I’m not that stupid,” the subordinate retorted in a peevish tone before crossing to the door.
It was under dark cloudy skies that dozens of friends and family members attended Steve’s funeral. Once the eulogy and the military ceremonial over, a procession of well-wishers offered the bereaved parents their condolences on the tragic lost of their son.
Oscar was last to walk up to Helen to express his deepest regrets for failing to protect his friend. “Oscar, don’t do this to yourself,” Helen chided. “You had no way of knowing this was going to happen. Steve was stabbed in his house. It’s not like he died while on mission. And still. I know you Oscar. You cared too much about Steve to let anything happen to him. But in life there are circumstances beyond one’s control and this was one of them.”
“Thank you Helen,” Oscar sighed heavily, clenching her into a warm embrace. “It does help to know that you don’t hold a grudge against me.”
“Jim. I’m so sorry.” Oscar offered with a handshake.
“Yeah, so am I.” His harsh reply wasn’t lost on Oscar who turned to Rudy with a worried look. “Come on Helen. Let’s go home.” Jim took his wife by the shoulders to escort her back to the awaiting limo made available by the OSI.
Oscar and Rudy retreated near a tree away from prying eyes and ears. “Saw anything?” Oscar asked out of the corner of his mouth.
“No, nothing out of the ordinary,” Rudy replied in a hushed tone, feigning a crestfallen expression so not to draw attention as to the true topic of their discussion.
“Somehow I sense that he’s here. I’m going to get the bastard if this is the last thing I do,” Oscar spewed between tightly set teeth to avoid blowing up his cover as a mourner.
“Easy Oscar. We’ll get him,” Rudy pacified with a hand on his friend’s shoulder.
Three weeks later Oscar was ranting and raving at the lack of progress in nailing Steve’s assailant. He suspected that a higher power was threatening his men into keeping their mouths shut on their findings at the risk of meeting with Steve’s fate.
“I want answers Crane, not conjectures!” Oscar lashed out over the phone. “You call me back when you do.” He smashed the receiver down. As he stood to go pour himself a drink, Callahan buzzed his desk. He drew in a deep breath to regain his composure before answering calmly. “Yes Callahan?”
“Mister Hanson from the NSB is here to see you.”
“Does he have an appointment?” Oscar snarled.
“Yes, he does, sir,” she quavered timidly, taken aback by her boss’s belligerence.
“Alright,” he huffed out angrily. “Send him in.” He walked over to the bar to fix himself a drink. “Of all people to show up on my doorstep…” he mumbled grumpily.
“Hanson. What brings you by?”
“I’d like to introduce you to Paul Wasserman. He’s Austin’s replacement,” he blurted out straightforwardly.
Oscar choked on his drink and stared at Hanson quizzically. “What replacement?”
“Wasserman here is the best trained agent in the field. He’s going to take over Austin’s post.”
“Not on your life,” Oscar spat, brushing past the two men on his way back to his desk.
“Goldman you’ve had three weeks to nurse your wounds. I’m sorry about Austin but this is business. You can mourn him in your own time.”
Oscar bristled up at Hanson’s waspish cynicism. It fuelled his growing hate for the man he remotely suspected of playing an indirect role in Steve’s death. “I don’t need to replace him. I have all the available agents I need right now.”
“Wasserman is no ordinary agent, Goldman.” Oscar’s head shot up at the word. “I don’t mean that. The NSB wants him on the job starting Monday and you don’t have a saying in the matter,” Hanson stated matter-of-factly, tabling the discussion.
“As usual,” Oscar sassed back. “Wasserman, I’ll see you on Monday.”
“Thank you Mister Goldman. You won’t regret it,” the young man enthused, extending his arm to shake Oscar’s hand, but was met with a dark scowl instead. Wasserman gulped nervously and glanced at Hanson who shook his head reassuringly.
When both were out the door, Oscar grabbed the phone and called Rudy.
“Rudy, it’s Oscar. We might have a lead. He just walked out of my office. Have our man follow him. His name is Paul Wasserman. You can’t miss him. Tall, well-built, blond hair and he’s with Hanson.”
“He’ll be right on it.”
For the following week Oscar’s undercover agent shadowed Wasserman night and day, spying on his every move. The man was clean as a whistle, leading the agent to believe his boss might be barking up the wrong tree.
“I saw him meet with Hanson a couple of times,” the agent reported over a pay phone. “I got as near as I could get to them but I couldn’t hear what they were saying.”
“Yeah he’s perfect in every way,” Oscar sneered. He thought of pursuing another lead but his nagging hunch was prodding him to remain on this path. “Too perfect if you ask me. He’s trying hard to please me, as though he wants me to entrust him with confidential information pertaining to OSI. In fact he questioned me about the ‘Gemma’ project.
“Who told him?”
“Certainly not me. Hanson might have gotten wind of it through the pipeline and he’s eager to get to the whole story . Wasserman must be his mole.”
“But why murder?”
“Must be a combination of several factors that built up over the years, I don’t know. I may be getting ahead of myself here but my instincts urge me to keep at Wasserman. He’s our link.”
“I’d stick to Hanson. I don’t believe he’s the mastermind behind this. Someone else must be pulling his strings. By following him he’s likely to lead us to the top banana.”
“Agreed but nevertheless don’t let Wasserman out of your sight.”
“Will do. I’ll need to alter my disguise ‘cause I sense he’s becoming wary. I’ll call you tonight at your apartment with my report.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
The agent began tailing Wasserman the minute he exited the OSI building. He followed him to a convenient store where he was seen buying a carton of milk and some eggs before driving to his apartment. The shadow parked across the street from the building and waited for any suspicious occurrence.
Wasserman tossed his jacket onto the sofa and went to the kitchen to put his item in the frig, after which he sauntered to the sitting area where he fixed himself a drink. He glanced at the phone sitting on the coffee table, dithering whether he bother Mister L. with the meagre information he had gathered today. He took one more gulp to summon his courage, then stepped over to the couch to sit to pick up the receiver.
“Mister L. It’s Wasserman. Sorry to be calling you this late. I just got in.”
“No doubt this is good news?”
“I’m afraid not. I stayed later to see if an opportunity to sneak into Goldman’s office would present itself but the man is a workaholic. He’s there before I come in the mornings and leaves after I do.”
“What about the project?”
“It’s way too early, sir. He’s very tight-lipped about everything. He clearly doesn’t trust me. But I can understand that. I mean it’s only been two weeks. I’m afraid if I insist it might arouse his suspicions.”
“You’re right. I trust your judgement. Do as you deem best to get that information.”
“I will get it for you Mister L. It’s only a matter of time.”
“By any chance would Goldman have you tailed?”
“No, I don’t believe so. I’ve been careful. There was this old man who appeared to be at the same time at the same place but we happened to be going the same way.”
“He may be an undercover agent. If you see him again, you tell me and we’ll take care of him.”
“I WANT THAT BASTARD!” Mister L. roared as he smashed the phone down, startling Hanson standing to his right.
“And you’ll get him. It just takes time. You said you’ve been planning this for years. Surely a couple of more weeks won’t matter? Think of the reward.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” he agreed, recovering his composure.
“Besides it’s not as though Austin could return and wreak havoc.”
“Right again, my friend,” the man sniggered. “That’s the best part of all.”
“Patience sir. You’ll get your man,” Hanson emboldened with undertones of sarcasm that were lost on the top honcho.
A week passed with reports of status quo for both camps. The two adversaries were at a stalemate, each hoping the other would make a false move. Oscar remained wary of Wasserman, limiting his briefings to information specifically needed for his assignments only. The agent was caught between Oscar’s distrust and his boss’s growing impatience. His suggestion of a replacement was met with reluctance on Mister L.’s part who deemed that a switch would be too risky at this time.
The investigation into Steve’s death was consuming Oscar, eating away at his time and patience. So involved was he that he omitted to have Steve’s personal belongings shipped to Ojai.
“Helen, I’m so sorry. It completely slipped my mind,” Oscar apologized profusely. “I’ll have somebody gather his things this week and I’ll have them shipped out to you.”
“That’s why I’m calling. Jim and I are flying to Washington over the weekend. We will handle it ourselves. Anyway I feel better doing it myself.”
“As you wish. Will you be staying at Steve’s house? I can arrange for a hotel room if that’s more convenient for you. I mean…”
“I know. The memories. No, thank you Oscar. Jim and I will stay at the house. We’ll be okay. Really. Thank you for caring, though.”
“It’s the least I can do after what’s happened,” Oscar said dejectedly.
“You are not still bearing the guilt of my son’s death, are you?” Helen asked rather harshly.
“Who can I blame, Helen?”
“The man who killed him, that’s who,” she sputtered angrily. “You haven’t found out who it was yet?”
“No, not yet, but we’re getting there. The investigation is rolling and I won’t rest until I nail the snake that sank his fangs into Steve,” Oscar pledged, grinding out the words through a clenched jaw.
“I know you won’t. Just remember, Jim and I don’t hold you responsible for what happened to Steve.”
“Thank you Helen. I really appreciate it. But a part of me will always wonder if…”
“We all do,” she sighed heavily, allowing a short beat to let her mind roam back on the past. “Well, let’s not dwell on it now. Jim and I should be in Washington Friday afternoon.”
“Please let my secretary know the exact time of your arrival so I can have a car pick you up.”
“That’s very nice of you, Oscar. I will. Thanks.”
No sooner had he hung up the phone that a visitor knocked on his door. Oscar glanced down at his watch and frowned. ‘Who could that be at this hour?’ he wondered to himself as he walked over to the door with a faltering step. He looked through the peephole and cursed. “What are you doing here? You know we’re not supposed to be seen together,” he scolded.
“Let me in. It’s important.”
Oscar started to object but the man’s pleading eyes made him reconsider. “All right,” he groused, unwillingly letting his undercover operative in.
“Boss I think I know who’s pulling the stings.”
“Your old friend Oliver Spencer.”
“That can’t be,” Oscar exclaimed in shock.
“I told you Hanson was the one to watch. I saw him meeting with Spencer at the airport in late afternoon. I cautiously followed their car to an abandoned warehouse where they met with Wasserman. My guess is that they’re in it together.”
“But that doesn’t make sense. Spencer coming after me, that I can understand, but to kill Steve?”
“Maybe he wanted him from underfoot to get to you. He knew his death would affect you. Maybe he thought he could get advantage of your vulnerability to infiltrate the OSI. You said the new guy had been pushing you to confide in him?”
“Yeah, but he’s been tactful about it.” Oscar began pacing the room, trying to figure out his next move. “You realize we need more proof to get Spencer, if indeed he’s the mastermind behind this whole scheme.”
“We could get Wasserman to spill the beans or better yet, Hanson.”
“You’ll never get either one to confess, especially if you don’t have any substantial evidence to back your claim.”
“I have ways to make them talk,” the agent said smugly.
“I’m sure you do, but we can’t take a chance on blowing the whistle on them before we have all the facts.”
“Little old Miss Brody can,” the operative affected with a squeaky voice.
Oscar eyed the astute old lady disguise from top to bottom. “I admit this is a brilliant disguise. I hardly recognized you in this get up.”
“Let me handle it. I can get those dirty snakes.”
“All right,” Oscar conceded. “But I want you to promise me to call for back up the minute you’re ready to make your move, you got that?”
“Yes boss. Will do, boss,” he mocked with a salute.
“Ah go on, get out of here!” Oscar exasperated with a light shove towards the door. “Remember, no playing hero out there. These guys play tough. Don’t risk it.”
“I’ll be careful,” he reassured with an elfish wink.
The agent staked out the warehouse all afternoon hoping to catch sight of any of the three partners in crime. When no one showed up he decided to sneak inside to have a look around. He combed every inch of the building, eager to stumble upon a piece of incriminating evidence that he could use against Spencer and his cohorts. Just as he headed for the exit, Hanson and Spencer drove up to the site and parked in front of the building, trapping the operative inside. Quickly he scrambled for a place to conceal himself. He crouched down behind a pile of barrels and pricked up his ears to catch wind of the conversation.
“Wasserman says that Goldman is still on his guard. He won’t reveal anything about classified information nor the Gemma Project,” Hanson informed as he and Spencer made their way to the small office. “I warned you this would take longer than you had anticipated.”
“I know, I know,” Spencer growled. “I hate this waiting game but we can’t do anything about it. I need more information on that project with which I can bring Goldman down once and for all.”
The agent pressed the record button on his pocket tape recorder and silently crept out of his hiding spot, heedful to ensure the coast was clear before padding his way up to the office door. So absorbed by the revealing discussion was he that he didn’t notice Wasserman coming behind with a crowbar. Just as he brandished the weapon in the air, the agent swirled around and grabbed his arm, twisting it behind his back and plastered his face against the wall.
“You make a sound and I’ll kill you,” the operative threatened in a whisper before knocking the man senseless. He dragged him away from sight and resumed his spot by the door. He concealed the tape recorder in a letterbox in the event his plan should backfire and he ended up in the enemy’s clutches. Regardless of the outcome Oscar will have the recording to sentence Hanson and Spencer for life imprisonment.
He dithered whether he should run across the street to his car to phone Oscar with his strategy, but figured he would miss the chance to catch both Hanson and Spencer red-handed if he did. Against his better judgment he decided to sit tight and patiently awaited the moment to strike.
He flattened his back against the wall as Hanson exited the office. He discreetly and silently crept up behind the unsuspected man to grab him in a stranglehold. “DON’T say a word, Hanson or I’ll break your neck,” the agent warned in a low voice so not to alert Spencer. “Now, walk toward the door, slowly. No false move or I swear I’ll kill you.”
Hanson frowned at the familiar voice. “Wait a minute, who are you?”
“I’m your worse nightmare.”
“You guessed it. Now move.”
“But…but you’re dead,” Hanson stammered in shock as he slowly made his way toward the exit. He turned round to sneak a peek at his captor and sure enough… “It’s really you.”
“In the flesh. Thought you could get rid of me, heh?”
“It’s not me I swear. Spencer made me do it,” Hanson defended vehemently.
“Of course. Poor little man.” Steve quipped, shoving the man out the door with a bionic push that landed Hanson face down in the dirt. “It won’t work, Hanson. You could have easily turned Spencer down. After all you are the head of the NSB, not him.”
“You don’t understand. Spencer is more powerful than you think. He’s running his own covert organization. He wanted to get Goldman’s director’s chair at the OSI to exact revenge on the man and to crack the secret of cybernetics for his own vindictive purposes.”
“Why did he want me out of the way? And what’s his interest in the Gemma Project?” Steve queried with a raised eyebrow.
“To weaken Goldman. Your death was sure to him bring down, granting Spencer a window of opportunity to worm his way inside the OSI and learn everything about Rudy Wells’s achievement. That’s what the Gemma Project is all about, isn’t it? A way for him to improve your current prowesses, am I right?”
“You’ll never know. Besides it won’t matter to you where you’re going.” Steve slapped the handcuffs on Hanson’s wrists and tied him to the phone booth while he made a call to Oscar.
“Oscar, it’s me. I’ve got Hanson with me. Spencer’s still inside the warehouse.”
“Where are you?” Oscar sat at his desk and pick up pen and paper to jog down the address. “What did I tell you about calling for back up?” Oscar chided.
“There wasn’t any time. Look I’ve got everything on tape. You have enough to court-martial Spencer. And your friend Hanson just confessed to plotting to have me killed.” The blood drained from Hanson’s face at the news. “He doesn’t look too good, Oscar,” Steve sneered, relishing the expression of doom written in Hanson’s eyes.
“Keep him on ice until I get there and Steve, don’t go after Spencer by yourself. Let us handle it from now.”
“I will. I don’t want to let Hanson out of my sight.”
“Good, make sure that you do. And Steve…”
“Good work, pal.”
It wasn’t long before Oscar and his men surrounded the warehouse to bring Spencer out on the open. Although he denied the allegations of treason, espionage and murder, he was held in a federal penitentiary pending a court-martial date.
Hanson and Wasserman both yielded under pressure and agreed to divulge the details of Spencer’s stratagem to take over Oscar’s position at the OSI. They learned that Steve’s death had been a sham designed to lure the criminals into a trap and dismantle a probable network of espionage. Oscar’s plan had proven effective.
Steve received a clean bill of health from Rudy. In the next few days he expected Steve to experience intermittent tiny stinging sensations in his chest but made him promise to report to him every week for a medical assessment. “If the twinges should become too painful, call me,” he added sternly, getting a nod in return.
“Will do, Doc. I feel fine,” Steve assured, hoping down the table. “Just get short winded at times.”
“That’s normal. Your muscles are still healing. That’s why I’ll ask Oscar to put you on leave for a few weeks. Get some rest. You deserve it.”
“I think I will. Thanks Rudy.”
Steve was met with Oscar outside the lab. “So what’s the verdict?”
“A few weeks rest.”
“You got it, pal.” Oscar tapped Steve on the shoulder and accompanied him down to the elevators. “Your folks are at your house, packing your belongings. Want me to tell them about Lazarus?”
“No thanks. You handle the press. I’ll tell my parents. They’ll probably jump down my throat for the stunt we pulled but I expect they’ll be glad to hear I’m alive.”
“No doubt about it.”
“Helen, what do you want to do with Steve’s model airplanes?” Jim asked his wife busy clearing out his dresser drawers.
She sighed, tears welling up in her eyes at the miniature replica of the Apollo 13 rocket aboard which Steve made his first trip to the moon. “I can’t throw those away, Jim.” She took the model and distractedly caressed its frame as her mind roved back on the day of the launch. “I was so proud of my boy,” she sobbed, delicately hugging the rocket close to her heart.
“I know you were, mom,” wafted the voice from behind.
“Steve!” Startled, Helen exclaimed, nearly dropping the model onto the floor as her heart leapt to her throat. . “I…is it really you?” she stammered in shock.
“It’s me, mom.” He ambled up to her to clench her in a soul-stirring embrace. “I’m here. I’m alive.”
“My God,” she wept, hugging him with all of her might. “Oscar said that…”
“I’m sorry we had to deceive you, mom,” he lifted his chin to glance at his dad, “dad, but it was the only way to catch whoever tried to kill me.”
She pulled back and held his head firmly between her hands as she gazed tenderly into his bewitching blue eyes. “I should be mad at you for what you put us through but I can’t. Welcome back, son. Welcome back.” She placed a kiss on his cheek and reengaged the hug.
“Did you catch whoever did this?” Jim asked.
“The man who stabbed me was found dead in his apartment. No doubt they wanted to silence him in case we got to him and forced him to talk. Spencer and Hanson were both behind the scheme to get Oscar expelled from the OSI. And they wanted to use my death to weaken him enough to have him make a crucial mistake.”
“Bastards!” Jim spewed out.
“They play rough, dad. That’s why we often have to resort to drastic measures to nail them.”
“I still can’t believe it,” Helen quavered, groping her son’s arms and shoulders to make sure he was real. “You are alive.”
In the federal penitentiary Spencer stewed in his own juices, already plotting his next revenge against Austin and Goldman. “You haven’t seen the last of me yet,” he ranted and raved, pacing the length of his cell with his cane. “This isn’t over yet, gentlemen. Enjoy life while you can. Oliver Spencer will be back.”
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