Joe is in FBI custody. What will he do? How will he get out of it? His plan begins to take shape and get put into action in this week’s installment of Extra Innings. Please enjoy.
If you want to catch up on the previous installments of this serial, you can click on these links:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33
McWorter returned and put a yellow legal pad in front of Joe. He put a Bic ball point pen on top of it. It wasn’t a pencil or a retractable pen. Joe assumed they avoided things that could be used as weapons or anything with too many parts that could be disassembled into a lock pick for the handcuffs. He had no intention of using his writing implement for either. He was going to use it to help him out of this jam.
Joe had only been in this timeline for a short period. He had done a great deal of research into RPM, however, and this gave him somewhere to start. He began by writing down information about the properties they owned and the arms deal in the warehouse. Joe wasn’t sure this would be enough to get him what he needed, so he began making things up. He ensnared RPM in drug distribution and human trafficking. He also told tales of tax evasion and money laundering. Joe didn’t see any evidence of these things, but it didn’t matter. He wanted to build up the case against RPM as much as he could so he could increase the value of what he might potentially know and demonstrate his cooperation with the FBI. The Provenzas would be livid, but, if Joe could accomplish what he set out to do, it wouldn’t matter.
After he filled two pages of the legal pad, Joe turned it so McWorter could read what he had written. He could see by the agent’s facial expressions that he was quite interested by what he was reading.
“Mr. McLean, this is quite a laundry list you put together here,” McWorter said. “Just the things on the first page could result in you and your family facing serious jail time. I’m assuming you have evidence to back up all of these things. My question is, why would you turn in your own company? You weren’t even under suspicion by our office.”
“Honestly, Agent McWorter, I hate this life,” Joe said truthfully. “All of the deception and illegal deals have been wearing on me. The arms deal was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I couldn’t abide by my company supplying weapons used for domestic violence. It’s not what I stand for as a person.”
McWorter seemed skeptical, but not uninterested. He looked directly at Joe.
“So, Mr. McLean, what is in this for you? What do you want out of this?”
Joe went with the obvious answer.
“I want immunity for my family, the McLean family. My parents and my brother had nothing to do with this. As for me, I’m prepared to take whatever consequences come my way.”
“And the Provenzas and Morellis?” McWorter asked. “You’re just throwing them under the bus?”
“It’s because of them that RPM is involved in these things. My job was to make sure they didn’t get caught.”
“But you’re married to a Provenza. Have you given thought to how your marriage might be affected by this?”
“The marriage has been over for a while. This will only bring the inevitable about more quickly.”
McWorter leaned back in the chair with the legal pad. He read it a few more times and then leaned forward seeming to come to a conclusion.
“Okay, Mr. McLean. I’ll take this information to the federal attorney. Before we discuss any kind of immunity, however, we are going to need to secure evidence. We’ll start with the arms in the warehouse, but I need a paper trail. Obviously, we’ll have to seize your company’s computers.”
This was just what Joe hoped to hear.
“Actually, you won’t find anything on the computers. The set of books that I’ve stored there are completely legitimate. I’ve stored the alternate records off site.”
“Alright, tell me where they are and I’ll send some men to round them up.”
“Not so fast,” Joe said. “This is where we come to the only part of this that is for me.”
“I knew this was to good be true,” McWorter said. “What kind of elaborate terms do you have for delivering these records.”
“Just two simple requests,” Joe said. “I want to be the one to take you to the records. I know exactly what I’m looking for and you’ll have everything you need in mere minutes. Before we do that, however, I’d like to have one visitor and no one from the Provenzas or Morellis should know about it.”
“Who is it?” McWorter said. “A lawyer?”
“No. It’s Beth Burton. She’s a friend of mine and I want her to take care of some of my private affairs in case things don’t work out well for me. You can watch our visit and record everything so you can be certain that I’m being sincere.”
“One step at a time, Mr. McLean,” McWorter said. “We will check out the warehouse first. My men have had it secured since we picked you and Mr. Provenza up. We have a warrant and we’re ready to move in. Depending on what we find, we’ll consider your requests, strange as they may be. In the meantime, I’m going to have you moved to a holding cell. You’ll be given some food and some time to ponder what’s in store for you. Immunity doesn’t come easy. Your information better be airtight.”
McWorter left the room for a minute and returned with two gigantic agents with dark blue suits stretched to the limit by muscles underneath. McWorter unlocked the cuff on Joe’s left wrist and he was ushered into the hall with a large agent on each side and McWorter leading the way. As they were moving down the hallway, a door to Joe’s right opened and, as he glanced inside, he saw Johnny Provenza sitting at a very similar table. When he saw Joe, he leapt to his feet and strained against the handcuff.
“You son of a bitch. What did you do? Why did you do this?” Johnny shouted.
Joe just looked away and continued down the hall and onto the elevator with his entourage. They took the elevator down to the basement. When the doors opened, Joe saw a concrete passageway lined with six metal doors which he expertly deduced were the holding cells. He was brought to the second one on the right. McWorter shielded the electronic keypad and punched in five numbers. This was followed by the sound of a metal latch. McWorter swung the door inward and Joe was escorted inside. There was a metal cot, a toilet and sink combination and a small table and chair. A light bulb, caged by metal wire, was the sole source of illumination in the room.
Joe sat on the chair and McWorter and company turned to leave. The two agents squeezed through the door. McWorter turned to Joe as he was leaving.
“Mr. McLean, it won’t take long to verify what’s at the warehouse. Once we do that, I’ll be back and we’ll discuss your requests. I’m not sure why you’re doing this, but I learned a long time ago to stop questioning what motivates people.”
Joe jumped a bit as McWorter exited and firmly closed the heavy metal door.
After a while, dinner arrived. It wasn’t bad, consisting of a sandwich and a soft drink. Joe realized how hungry he was and ate every last crumb. Once the trash from dinner was collected, Joe decided to lie down on the cot. It had a very thin mattress and Joe could feel the metal slats beneath. He drifted off into a surprisingly dreamless sleep and was awakened by the sound of the keypad and lock being released on the cell door. McWorter entered looking a bit fatigued. It had been a long day for him.
“Well, Mr. McLean, so far your story checks out. We found the arms in the warehouse and we were able to trace them back to their origin. It actually looks like it may result in us bringing down a pretty large illegal arms syndicate that we’ve been after for a while.”
“Does that mean you’ll honor my requests?”
“I guess it does. It’s too late this evening, but we have made arrangements for you to meet with Ms. Burton in the morning. After that, we’re off to get your hidden evidence. If that pans out, we will talk further about immunity.”
Joe could tell that McWorter was working to suppress excitement under his serious demeanor. What Joe had given him so far was a career worth of work for many agents. McWorter would likely be thinking of promotion within the agency. Joe didn’t really care about that. He just wanted to have his two simple demands met and it appeared they would be.
After McWorter left, Joe laid back on the cot again. If he was going to execute his plan, he would need plenty of rest. Joe, once again, fell asleep easily and deeply.
The sound of the lock once again woke Joe. He felt like he had been asleep for a short time. The agent at the door was a new face.
“What time is it?” Joe asked.
“It’s 7:30 A.M.,” the agent answered. “Your visitor will be here at 8. I’ve got some coffee and breakfast along with some toiletries for you to freshen up before then.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it,” Joe said sincerely.
The agent brought in a breakfast sandwich along with coffee in a paper cup. He also provided Joe with a plastic bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant and shaving equipment. At least he could look presentable for Beth despite being in the same clothes for over 24 hours.
Joe finished breakfast, relieved himself, washed his hands and brushed his teeth. He rubbed a hand over his face and decided he would shave as well. He stripped off his shirt and looked at his reflection in the metal mirror as he shaved. He had looked better, but it was the best he could do. He rolled on some deodorant and was finishing up buttoning his shirt when the door opened once more. McWorter entered.
“Ms. Burton is here, Mr. McLean,” McWorter said. “You’ll be meeting with her in one of the rooms upstairs. Everything you both say will be recorded on video and audio. Don’t try anything cute or your immunity deal will disappear in a flash.”
Joe felt a rumbling in his stomach. He wasn’t sure how Beth would react to him. He also wasn’t 100% sure what he was going to say to her. Much of it depended on her reaction to him. He was again accompanied by two large agents and McWorter. They returned to the same room they had used the prior evening. When McWorter opened the door, Joe saw Beth sitting at the table and he was flooded with a mixture of feelings. She turned to look at him and he could tell that she also had mixed feelings about seeing him. Joe entered the room, sat down and was, once again, cuffed to the table. He looked Beth in the eyes and carefully considered his next move.