I used to work for the F.B.I., in the Portland office. It was my childhood dream to be the one who gets the bad guy.
My fiftieth birthday was in just three months. I had a wife and three children, still do, and the same job I’d had since my graduation from Quantico. We were living just outside Portland. My oldest son, John jr., was in his third year at Washington. The twins were high school seniors at this time and my pride and joy, daddy’s little girls. Carolyn and I had celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary, that’s the silver one I think, the previous Thursday night.
That warm July morning, I dressed for work as I had every other. Black socks and slacks, a pin striped white dress shirt, and a black jacket. I slipped on my loafers but was lost in the search for my tie. Coffee stained and still unwashed, I found it laying on the laundry room floor. I swore to myself to let Carolyn know about that. I walked into John’s empty room, knowing he owned some ties. It was just as he had left it, I guess, because I’d never really gone in his room. I picked the red one he wore in his graduation pictures and slipped it over my head. I stepped into the bathroom, combed back my whitening hair, and left for the office.
The early morning sun shone in through the broken blinds that I noticed hadn’t been replaced as I asked. I looked over the pile of paperwork awaiting me. “Why the hell do I gotta do all these damn reports?”
“Actually, you don’t, not today.” I turned to see a man much like myself, but older and with his piece on. He was a little taller, but with the same sagging features and large belly of my body. “I’ve come here to give you something new.” With that, I was handed a thick manila folder. It felt like it contained a video cassette. “All you need is in there, including my card. This is top priority, Agent Caulsworth. You will report to me on the hour with your progress. The paperwork here will wait.” The man turned and left. Outside, I heard a jet-copter quietly lift off. Funny I hadn’t heard it land.
I poured out the contents of the folder, the federal statement, a case history, vid cassette, and a dossier. The card that fell to the floor read ‘Federal Marshall Wilson R. Franklin’. He was from the Boise office.
“Must be real important for him to come all the way out here.” Steve Menschke was my oldest friend at the office, and a fine agent. I’d known him since our days at Quantico. “An hour’s flight out here, even in that thing.” He went on while I began to read the dossier.
At quarter till nine, I called a full meeting, all department heads. “We seem to have ourselves a little situation here. I know you are all familiar with that case in the papers, the Dean Brown thing. This S.O.B. killed not only the Portland mayor, but two of his security, in case you are unfamiliar with all this. He used to work for the mayor’s office. The court sentenced him just two days ago, life without parole. I guess he didn’t like the decision, because Mr. Brown escaped last night in transfer to the Oregon State Penitentiary. His whereabouts are presently unknown and I have been instructed to find him. As of now, the entire department will concentrate on this situation, all others suspended. This is the video, courtroom and escape.” I shut off the lights and pressed play.
A small thin man, caucasian and under 5’10’’, entered the courtroom. He wore a wrinkled suit, dark blue with a white kerchief. His hair was slicked back, still wet and he was unshaven. He wore no expression, as if he were dead. The judge spoke slowly, pausing for breath as she read the sentence. After the announcement, the defendant simply rose and extended his hands so he could be detained. Still the face of the small figure on the screen did not change. He was hand-cuffed and led away. The scene abruptly