”Sean! Wait up!” Joseph jogged down the night-darkened street toward his brother. He had muttered some lame excuse to Christina and hurried out of the bar. The urgency to warn his brother, to wring from him some sort of promise overwhelmed him.
In a way, the feeling tied in with Christina. Something about her sent up red flags. Sean accused him of being paranoid because he had so many premonitions of doom. Maybe he was, but he was also alive and not in prison. That wasn’t true for most of his friends. As they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.
Sean had a good two-block head start on him. When Joseph yelled, Sean glanced back at him. Then he hurried up, the guilty little worm. Joseph thought about attracting unwanted attention, but it was dark and the traffic on Johnson Street relatively light. He broke into a jog, then a run as Sean darted across the street and headed toward Lake Mendota. He caught up with him on the edges of James Madison Park, near the bathrooms.
“What do you think you’re doing? Why are you running from me?” Joseph put a hand across Sean’s back and guided him through the park to the water, which gently lapped the shores with a fishy stench.
“It’s about the deaths, isn’t it,” Sean said. “You think I’m to blame for them.”
“The people who got caught in one of my little road games. Some of them didn’t survive – a couple of cab drivers in Chicago and a little girl in Saint Louise.”
“Pft! I don’t care about that. It’s your getting caught I worry about.”
Sean stopped, ducking out from under Joseph’s arm. He turned to put them face to face under one of the little decorative sidewalk lights and put his hand on Joseph’s shoulder. “Joe, bro, tell me it isn’t so.” He grinned in that annoyingly knowing way at the use of the phrase he coined while they were boys. Joseph shrugged his hand off. Sean’s grin never dipped. “I know what I’m doing. I can handle it. They’ll never find me.”
“Oh sure. You hijack someone’s wireless and think that makes you safe. Well it doesn’t. Someday you’ll jack into some hacker’s system and he’ll turn you in.”
“And so what if he does? By the time the Feds have traced where I was, I’m gone.”
“They already have traced you. If I hadn’t taken out the agent in the red beret, you’d be in lock up now. They might still nail you if I can’t get to his partner.”
“His partner? You told me about him, didn’t you?”
“Yes. Remember, the house on Jennifer Street? He wasn’t home at the time.”
“Oh, yeah.” Sean nodded. “Where the kid lives.”
“Kid? What kid?” A rising sense of panic gripped Joseph. He didn’t like going into situations like this cold. Cold could get you killed.
“Nice kid. I watch him catch the school bus now and them. Me and Mac Lamar.” Sean nodded.
“Tell me you haven’t talked to the kid.”
Sean’s head slumped forward, a sure sign he knew he was in trouble and didn’t want to admit it. “I may have offered him a ride.”
“You don’t have a ride to offer.” He suspected he already knew what Sean would say.
“In your new Jeep. I sort of took the keys and borrowed it. Um… here.” He dug into his pocket and came up with Joseph’s spare car key.
Joseph sighed in exasperation. Great. Now he would have to kill all of them – the federal agent, the woman he lived with, and their kid too.