Fourteen – Tucker
I’d been woken up in all kinds of ways.
Kicks to the head from my father. Kicks to the ass from fellow vagrants. I’d been roused by a Mountie once, a bald guy claiming to be Jesus, and rat with a taste for Canadian toes. None of those were in the same park as being woke by U. S. Marshals busting into the room you’re sleeping in. Four of them surrounded me, all talking at once. I was slow to understand at first, then I noticed they were all in those lightweight blue field jackets with big yellow letters. I offered no resistance. They tugged me to my feet, jabbering at me and demanding my cell phone, which I didn’t have as someone had whipped it out a car window.. There were no handcuffs placed on me. In all honesty, they were being incredibly polite to me, considering I was an illegal alien who’d broken about ten thousand laws ranging from prostitution to avoiding arrest and illegal entry into the United States. I might have done some breaking and entering, as well as some petty thefts when I’d been street hustling. I’d be back in Canada by sunset, if I wasn’t in some holding cell with a bunch of unlawful Canuck’s.
Pastor Vesco stood on his porch, in heated conversation with another Marshal, hatred in his gaze as I was led to a dark blue sedan with Illinois plates, one of two parked in front of the church.
“I want to talk to my lawyer,” I said when I was tucked safely into the backseat.
“You’re not under arrest.” Marshal One behind the wheel stated.
“Uhm, are you sure?” I asked, smiling a bit as Marshal Two rifled through my tartan duffel bag, looking for drugs probably, but pulling out dildos, condoms, prostate stimulators, a paper gown and a doctor’s lab coat, which I’d been hoping to use with Sterling. When Marshal Two yanked out a purple dildo that was as long as his arm, his face went scarlet. That was the end of the tartan bag search. It was tossed into the trunk, and Marshal Two dropped his hefty self into the passenger seat, cheeks still pink as a puppy’s nose. “I think you should be arresting me.”
“We’re not here to arrest you.” I blinked at Marshal Two, then fell into silence. The church fell away. I didn’t look back.
“But why aren’t you arresting me?”
Tucker, shut the fuck up already!
“It’ll all be explained.” Marshal One replied. I fell into silence. We went to a small airport, where I was placed on a plane with a new Marshal, a woman with big boobs and small eyes. She informed me that we were going to Illinois, where I was to quickly gather my most important possessions. I asked her why I wasn’t under arrest, but she also skirted the facts. I took my seat on the small puddle jumper, and sat there quietly, duffel bag by my feet, my nerves jangling.
We touched down at O’Hare and I was then hustled along to another car, and another agent in a blue field jacket. Duffel on my shoulder, I sat in the backseat of a dark sedan, eyeballing the sunrise hitting the skyscrapers of Chi-Town. I’d always wanted to come here, but I’d ended up in Colchester and there I’d stayed. The ride was slow, traffic sluggish, and so I had plenty of time to worry over my future and what Sterling would think when he showed up at his father’s place and I wasn’t there.
“Can I make a phone call?”
“Sorry, no.” Marshal number four, I think, informed me. I bobbed my head, sat back, and toyed with the zipper on my tote. Something was really off here. If they weren’t arresting me, then what were they doing hauling me back? Why not just leave me off at the border, then boot me in the ass towards Toronto? None of this made any sense to me. Sterling must be sick with worry. I know I was.
Forty minutes later, I was sharing coffee and a breakfast meal from McDonald’s with Marshal Four. The big man’s name was Deputy Agent Apperson. He was about fifty, balding, with dark eyebrows that looked like caterpillars. He was being really nice. Every alarm bell that I owned was ringing loudly in my head.
“Can you tell me why I’m not being arrested? I’d like to know what’s going on.”
“Everything will be explained in due course. Please, understand that we’re working to protect you, Mr. Cameron.”
“Protect me from what? INS?” I asked, but got no further reply from the man in the front seat. He gave me a long look in the rearview, then made a call via his Bluetooth. I tried to listen but there wasn’t much to hear that made sense. It seemed I was a delivery in route. Made me feel like a package from Amazon or something.
“I’ve been cleared to relay some information to you pertaining to the current situation.”
“Sterling Vesco has turned state’s evidence against the Colchester Colts owner and various management figures, as well as the Bianchi crime family. He is, at this moment, in protective custody inside our headquarters in Chicago and will be moved shortly to our WITSEC facility in Washington D.C., which is where we’ll be taking you, as well. Your immigration status has been clarified. We’ll be able to tell you more when we arrive in D.C., but for now you’re on a strict need to know basis.”
“He did what?!” My greasy breakfast threatened to come back up. “Sterling turned himself in to save my stupid ass?”
“That was part of his deal, yes.”
“Oh, fuck, no,” I mumbled, craning my head to look back at the city we’d left. There was no seeing Chicago now, of course, but I wanted to view it. I wanted to go find that building and locate Sterling, then yell at him for ruining his life over a stupid dirty whore. Tears appeared out of nowhere. I cried hard for a few minutes, the Marshal handing me his handkerchief while telling me to be grateful for the kindness done for me by Sterling. I was grateful. Eternally so, but also freaking worried sick now. The mob would be after him. I’d seen The Godfather and The Irishman. I knew what happened when you ratted out the mob. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“Christ,” I sighed, sinking back into the luxurious seat. “Can I talk to him on the phone? A text or something? I just…miss him. I love him.”
“Sorry, no. We still have about an hour to go before we reach Colchester. Perhaps you should think on what it is you’d like to take with you.”
“Sure, okay, thanks. For everything.”
Resting was impossible, even with my eyes closed and something old – like from the seventies – playing on the radio. I sat there, sick with worry and guilt, until I was escorted into Gems, where I was met by every guy who worked there, as well as the owners. Everyone was super nice, supportive, and gabbing away about how special I was, how brave, how strong, how lucky. Lucky to be safe. Lucky to be able to stay in America forever. Lucky to have been with a stud like Sterling Vesco, who obviously adored me and OMG how romantic and exciting it all was, according to Onyx. Leaving the Marshal with the guys, I sprinted to my room and began whipping clothes into my tartan duffel bag. Someone knocked and I called them in.
Two more agents opened the door. Total Men in Black vibe coming from them. These guys weren’t wearing jackets to announce who they were. They were dressed down in dark suits sporting military short haircuts. Butch, Ian, Shin, Diamond, and all the other guys were in the corridor as well.
“Tucker Cameron, Agents Mahaney and Rust, U. S. Marshal’s.” They flashed badges. I blinked and bobbed my head “We’re going to be your escorts from here on.” Tall, rugged Marshal One informed me in a no-nonsense manner.
“What happened to the other guy?”
“We’re his replacements. Just hurry, please,” tall, rugged Marshal Two stated. They were bookends, aside from one being blonde and the other brunette. “Are you ready to depart?
I glanced at Shin and the guys. They were all chewing lips or wringing their hands.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m ready.”
Silence from the men with the guns and badges. I grabbed my duffel from the bed, pulled on my winter coat, and walked out of my room. With the Marshal’s at my back, I hugged my friends tightly, each one of them, then shook hands with Ian and Butch.
“We’ll all go out for burgers soon, I promise,” I said, although I suspected I might never see any of them ever again. “I love all you guys. You’re my family.”
They all replied in kind, tears welling. My eyes were misty, as well. I looked back one more time as I was hustled out the front door, lifted a hand, and then stepped out into the cold Illinois night.