ECHOES
 
	Author nickname: Ukeleleboy
	Beta reader nickname: Analorien
 
	Summary: They shared their lives a long time ago, until a crime changed their
futures. Nearly 20 years later, the echoes of that crime bring them together again
with unexpected consequences.
 
	Disclaimer: WaT characters aren’t mine.
 
 	Chapter 1
 
 	Manhattan. New York
November, 29
 
	At eight in the morning, New York’s streets were a swarm of people heading
quickly to work. He stopped just in front of the grand building and tightened his
coat. It was a cold morning at the end of November. He stood there, staring at the
place where he had worked every day for eight years. He had left so much in those
offices and still he felt a large emptiness inside of him. The feeling that during
those years that obsessed dedication to his job hadn’t been for nothing. So, for once
in his life he chose to be aware of what he was doing every second, what he was
feeling, trying desperately to find some motivation.
 
	So there he was, standing in front of the grey building, clear grey at the top, dark
grey at the bottom from the city grime. Sometime before he had enjoyed the
sounds from the kitchen at home, his wife and sons’ voices, talking about what they
would do this morning at school, the extra activities in the afternoon, the hurry to
the school bus, the smell of freshly made coffee and smell of toast. He got up slowly
that morning. He carefully chose his clothes for work, trying to find a reason for
every movement he did, trying to feel alive and not a machine, the sound of the
water in the bathroom, the warmth of the water, the smell of the soap, his shaving
soap, his wife’s perfume, telling him that she was back in the bedroom... He left the
bathroom with a towel around his waist and looked at her for a moment, like he
was watching her for the first time in his life. Meanwhile she quickly dressed to go
out to work. Jen was an excellent publicist, a very intelligent and hard-working
woman. They worked a lot, some moments in the mornings and in the night were
the only time they spent together, sometimes not even that brief time. The boys
were growing up alone, they were receiving a partial education from his parents,
most influences were from their teachers and friends. But he didn’t know who
their friends were, where they played. She always said he was too worried, ‘they
are only 6’. He wanted to take her hands, touch her soft skin, feel her smell, have
sex in a passionate morning leaving out the crazy world he felt around him. Jen’s
cell started to vibrate; she picked it up and started to speak. Judging by the
conversation it was work. She didn’t see him; she didn’t notice his perfect body still
wet and half naked, with just a towel around his waist.
 
	An unknown man ran into him, bringing him back to reality. He sighed, glanced at
the building and crossed the street. He entered the building, swiped his
identification card and headed for the elevators, doing that exercise he did at home
before. He pressed the button for the 27th floor, and as the elevator climber he
observed the people, people who worked at the same building, people he saw
everyday, but people he was seeing this morning for the first time in his life.
When the elevator door opened at the 27th floor, he got out and stood there
observing the vast extension of his work place. He was at the darkest part of the
office. Just in front of the elevators, at the back, big windows covered the surface of
the wall, flooding the office with sunlight. However, every single window brought
the light to the little offices of the section’s boss. They were open offices just
separated from the rest with glass partitions, to avoid blocking the light from the
rest of the office where around 30 desks in perfect line were occupied by people
always working with computers, phones and papers. At least he didn’t have one of
those desks anymore. Three years ago he had won a promotion and now he
worked in one of the offices with a big window to the street. That fact gave him a
kind of advantage, a comfortable chair, new shelving for books, a filing cabinet, a
vast and elegant desk where he had put a beautiful picture of him with Jen and the
children at Central Park, the baseball trophy little Tommy had won last summer.
 
	He stood in front of the glass door of his office, reading the sign that made him so
happy three years ago and he didn’t notice a long time ago,
 
	“THOMAS PULLMAN. ACCOUNTING DEPT.”
	He opened the door, placed his bag beside the chair, switched on the computer and
prepared his mind to start a hard day at work. Most of his coworkers did the same
and he grimaced noticing that an employee was walking to each office, coffee and
notebook in hand. They were robots, all of them. Would be in that way all his life
until he left work? Would the president of the firm know about them? Would he
know some day that they were the people who worked and made all that money he
earned, who decided where to get more benefits? He was just a little piece of a
giant and complex financial structure, trying to cope in a hostile world. No, it
wasn’t fair to think in that way, he had a wonderful wife, a perfect home, two
healthy sons, a house with a garden. He smiled remembering some pictures from
his youth, talking about dreams with his friends. All of them had the same dream. A
house with a garden, a family. He had made it, what about them?

He was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he didn’t notice he had taken the
picture on his desk and he was looking his family. Jen and the children in Central
Park playing in the snow. Suddenly he started to feel better.
 
	“Morning, Mr. Pullman” – his assistant greeted him. “You have some documents to
sign and I wanted to mention a problem with the Cleveland account. I don’t know
what you think about my suggestion but it’s the only way I found to fix the gap”.
	
	“Well, I’m listening” – Tom said, smiling. He left the picture on the desk and he
focused on work for most of the morning.
	At 11:45 AM the post arrived, a worker delivering it to the various desks.
 
	“Mr. Pullman, I have a recorded delivery for you, sign here please...” – he said as he
pointed out where to sign. It was a big yellow envelope. His name and address
were handwritten. It was sent from New York the day before and the sender
wasn’t familiar to him. Thomas signed the receipt and continued working.
	Feeling a bit curious because this one wasn’t part of the usual correspondence,
	Tom opened the envelope and, surprised, he took out a piece of paper, ripped out
of a notebook. When he realized what it was, a cold sweat ran through his body. He
put the envelope and the paper in his desk drawer and, leaning the elbows on the
desk, covered his face with his hands trying to keep calm. Hundreds of questions
filled his mind. How had he found him? When had he got out of prison? Would he
know the home address? Did he know Jen? Did he know the children? Would the
others have received a similar letter? But, how could he contact them? He didn’t
any clue about their lives since they separated, he didn’t know where they had
been sent or what their jobs were. They hadn’t made contact again.
	He couldn’t relax, his heart was racing but his nausea was subsiding. He took out
the paper, read it again. He had to do something, he had to run away.
	 
 
 	La Guardia Airport. New York
November, 29
 
	While patiently waiting to pick up her backpack from the carousel, Sandra Fischer
ran through everything she had to do during her stay in New York. Once or twice in
a year her work made her leave London, where she had lived for ten years, to
spend a short time in New York. Personally, she liked it, she liked to taste the New
York atmosphere, always fascinating, multicultural, with such a frantic daily
movement, independent and anonymous.
 
	She loved London, she felt at home there, in spite of being born in the States. She
had graduated in Art History and found a job at an important Art Gallery with a
head office in London, the secondary office in New York was twice as big in both
size and number of staff. Of course, in New York everything was huge.
	Finally after 10 or 15 minutes, Sandra got her backpack from the conveyor belt.
She headed for the exit, looking for a cab. It was bitterly cold, typical this close to
Christmas. Fortunately, she would be back at home by then. The view from her tiny
and comfortable apartment just in front of Clapham Common was welcoming. She
loved her apartment because it was bright and had a view of the park. The clear
beige doors, the parquet on the floor, the walls painted in warm and soft vanilla
colours along with some matching furniture brought to her the feeling that her
apartment was her little refugee, it was her home, her little calm space where she
could see the fine rain falling over the park, smell the wet grass through the
window, a window where she could watch the people walking, running, alone, in
couples, with friends, with the dog, with children. Some of them lost in their
thoughts, others laughing, others simply closing firmly their mouths to avoid an
unwanted yell from the music that only they could hear from their mp3 player.
	Sandra shared her apartment with Julie Newmann, her coworker from the Art
Gallery, a great friend, so that wasn’t an inconvenience, she felt she lived in a house
with garden and Julie was almost family. It was enough for her considering she had
achieved an old dream. Could it have worked for them? When she was in New
York, she always remembered them. She never heard from them, they never
contacted her, they never knew where the others were living. Instinctively when
she was walking and found some drunk homeless man, she looked at him carefully
trying to find him in that man. It was mad, it was cruel, but at the same time it
could be true. If at 17 years old you were an alcoholic young man, at 33 you could
be dead. But if she had got a life she never thought she would get, why couldn’t he
have his own house with a garden?
 
	The cab dropped her at the hotel where she habitually stayed in New York, and
headed to the counter to register and collect the keycard.
	
	After that she got into the elevator to the fourth floor. Room 414 was three doors
to the right. She opened it, left the backpack on the floor and dropped on the bed. It
wasn’t a luxury hotel where some stupid bellhop annoyed behind you with your
bag and begging for extra money, asking you over and over if everything is ok or if
you need something else. She didn’t have to suffer five seconds after the bellhop
the champagne bottle and fruit basket for honeymooners which was an obvious
mistake. No, this was a little hotel where the intimacy was the best luxury you
could get, just what Sandra loved. She headed to the bathroom, turned on the
warm water and undressed as the bath filled. She climbed in and sat in the water
for what felt like hours. In fact it was only five minutes.

She had a lot of things to do and a visit she had to make. When she was in New
York she always visited a little bookshop she had found one wet day, looking for a
place to get out of the rain. The owner Lucy Dovier had wanted to keep the shop
just as her grandmother had started it a century ago. It was a lovely place, you
could find any book, perfectly classified by theme and age. But it wasn’t just a
bookshop, it was also a place where you could go to hear the stories that Theresa, a
great friend of Lucy, told the children and adults who were drawn in by the magic
of the tales. There was another place with some comfortable rocking chairs where
you could pick up a book and sit down to read, soft music, always relaxing. And,
finally, if you got hungry, there was another place with tea and home made
biscuits.
	
After she placed her things in the room and took the relaxing bath, she chose some
appropiate clothes and left the room to visit the bookshop.
	She was crossing the lobby when the receptionist called her.
 
	“Ms Fischer, there is something for you in reception”.
 
	“What’s going on?” – she asked, surprised.
	“This letter arrived for you a few minutes ago”
 
	Sandra frowned. What was so important that she had to have it right now, when in
a couple of hours she would be at work? – “Thanks” – she said distractedly, looking
at the large beige envelope. She stepped out of the entrance as she opened it and
extracted a page ripped out of a notebook. Before reading it, she looked again at
the envelope. It had her name but also it had the address of the Gallery and the
Hotel, what was a surprise for her, because it would have been better to leave it at
work than at the hotel. Intrigued, she turned her attention to the piece of paper.
 
	“Hi, little Sandra...”
 
	That was the beginning. Sandra wasn’t able to continue, her hands were trembling
and she could barely lean against the wall. A passer-by asked her if she was ok. She
simply nodded and put the paper back into the envelope. She looked around
expectantly, looking for the author of the letter. The author of one of her worst
nightmares.
 
	How had he found her? How had he known she was there? Obviously he was
watching her. She had been given the envelope the same day she had arrived in
New York. She looked at the date, that of the day before. Oh god, she felt the
absence of air in her lungs. The city didn’t seem the same any more, she felt the
burden, the weakness. She couldn’t think about anything else. She thought about
returning to her room, but he knew her address. If he was in the room waiting for
her? No, she thought about the bookshop, she would be safe there, but she couldn’t
risk Lucy’s life. She glanced at the paper, deciding what to do. Would they have
received the same letter? How could she contact them? She didn’t have a clue
about their lifes. She had to run away, but where?
 
 
 	November, 30. 10.00 am
Parker & Sons offices.
 
	Special agents Martin Fitzgerald and Samantha Spade were interviewing Tom
Pullman’s coworkers, who in the last couple of hours had become case number N7-
NY 7145687.
 
	“Do you remember anything different in his behaviour?” – Sam asked.
	Margot Walter had the office beside Tom’s. She frowned. “Yes, well, during the
morning we didn’t see each other, we’re working on different things and we don’t
keep contact, but usually we go out for lunch. Yesterday, he was so distracted, he
seemed worried. I don’t know what to tell you”.
 
 
	Flashback
 
	Margot knocked softly on the door. “Hey, Tom, time for lunch” – she said opening the
door. Then she noticed his hunted expression. “What’s wrong? Are you ok?”
Tom took some seconds to react. “Eh?, Oh, Marg... I’m sorry. It’s nothing. I’m fine, it’s
just a problem with the Cleveland account...”
 
	Margot didn’t believe that excuse. Problems with accounts were very common in their
work and Tom was an expert manager. That expression was due to other matter, but
she decided not to probe further. Instead, she pointed to the matter she had come in
to raise first. “Come on, let’s go for lunch, Mark’s downstairs already”.
	“Right” – Tom said, rising and grabbing his jacket. Usually, they went out to a nearby
café, it was quick, warm and getting out of the building even for a little more than
half an hour was a relief. The three of them, Tom, Margot and Mark spent that time
off together. They never talked about work, but their children, plans for weekends or
a new movie.
 
	However, this time, Tom walked behind them as if on automatic pilot. He couldn’t
stop thinking about that piece of paper, those few words. “Hi Tommy, are you going
to pee in your pants?”. The mocking laugh behind that sentence made him become
pale again.

 
	“Eh, Tom, what’s wrong? You’re so distracted today. Be careful, you’ve scattered the
sugar” – Mark said, tapping his arm.
	“Tom is in another world today” – Margot said – “Problems with Mrs. Pullman,
maybe?”
 
	Tom looked at them, as if he didn’t understand anything. He noticed the sugar
scattered and he just took another little pack. “No, there isn’t any problem. It’s just a
little headache”- he muttered.
 
	“I see” – Margot said – “The Cleveland account”
 
	“Yes, exactly” – he said, obviously unwilling to reveal more.
 
	A few minutes later he wasn’t able to continue the conversation and his head felt like
a bomb just about to explode. He excused himself and rose to head for the bathroom.
 
 	
	End Flashback
 
	“We didn’t see him again. When we finished lunch, Mark went to the bathroom but
Tom wasn’t there. We didn’t notice him leaving the café, but, because his
behaviour, we thought maybe the Cleveland account or whatever it was that
bothered him wasn’t letting him relax, and he decided to come back to the office”.
	 
	“When we came back and didn’t see him at his office, we were a bit worried” –
Mark Hobson continued – “but we thought it wasn’t important. When two hours
later I noticed he hadn’t come back yet, I talked to Margot”.
 
	“I called his boss, but he didn’t know anything about him, then I phoned him on his
cell but it was disconnected and at nobody answered at his home. His children
came home around seven with the babysitter and his wife, Jen, around 9 or 9.30, so
we waited until that time and called again at home” – Margot explained – “Jen
didn’t know anything about Tom, she was very worried, I suppose she filed a
missing person report in the end”.
	“Apart of what you’re telling me, do you know if Tom had some problem. At home?
With friends? Or some co-worker? Financial problems?” – Martin suggested.

“No, Tom is a very methodical person, his entire life is dedicated to work and
family. I don’t think he spends his time out of work on anything other than his wife
and kids. The rest of his time, working! – Margot sighed.
 
	“Wait a moment” – Mark said, frowning. “I don’t know if this is important but,
when we noticed that Tom wasn’t here, I went to his office looking for his phone
number as I didn’t remember it, and I found an opened envelope which caught my
attention because it didn’t seem the sort of letter we receive here”.
	“Is that envelope in the desk?” – Sam asked.
 
	“I suppose so” – Mark replied.
	It had been what Martin and Sam were going to do, looking for a lead in Pullman’s
office but Mark Hobson gave them that lead.
 
	“This is the envelope”- he said, handing it to them.
	Martin took the envelope and extracted the paper. It was just an ordinary piece of
paper ripped out of a notebook with a single handwritten sentence.
 
	“We’ll send this to the lab to analyse” – Martin said, as he bagged it, not revealing
the content of the paper, in spite of the curious expressions of Margot Walter and
Mark Hobson.
 
	“Thanks so much for your help”- Sam said smiling. “If you remember anything else,
please don’t hesitate to call” – she continued as handed them a card.
	Martin and Sam left Parker & Sons and headed for the FBI Offices. As Sam was
driving, Martin dialled Jack’s phone to inform him what they’d found.
 
 
  That morning. 
  Tom Pullman’s residence.
 
	
	“Tom Pullman, 33 years old, accountant. He’s married and he has two kids aged 6.
Twins” – Jack Malone clarified, noticing his coworker’s expression as they headed
for the house.
 
	Danny Taylor smiled, observing the house. “Beautiful house for an accountant”- he
quipped.
 
	“He isn’t just any accountant, he works in ‘Parker & Sons’- Jack explained, as
pressed the bell.

A scared, pale Jennifer Pullman opened the door in a moment. She had obviously
been crying.
 
	Jack and Danny showed their ID “Jack Malone and Danny Taylor from the FBI,
could we come in please?”
 
	Jen headed for the living room where they sat down.
 
	“Tell us what happened, Mrs. Pullman” – asked Jack.
 
	“Well, last night, when I arrived from work, the phone was ringing. It was Mark
Hobson, one of my husband’s coworkers. He asked me if Tom was at home and
when I told him he hadn’t come back yet, he explained that he didn’t come back to
work after lunch. He was distracted or worried and they thought he would be at
home”.
	“Distracted? Do you know if he has problems at work or with a co-worker?”- Danny
asked.
 
	“No. Eh, it’s a hard job. Lately, I noticed that Tom was a bit dissappointed, I would
say depressed, but, I thought it wasn’t so bad...” – Jen looked at them with an
almost supplicant face trying to get a confirmation to her words.
	“Have you had problems with your marriage?” – Jack asked.
 
	“Us?” – Jen asked, not understanding the question.
 
	“I mean, economics problems or with your relationship...”
 
	“No, well, we work and we live without economic problems. And our marriage” –
	Jen stopped- “... it can’t go better”.
 
	“Why did you hesitate?” – Danny asked. “Is there something you have to tell us,
Mrs. Pullman?”.
 
“What? No. I didn’t hesitate. I was remembering. You know, our relationship was
very complicated in the beginning. We met at the University in Boston. My parents
didn’t like Tom, they wanted someone with a better social position. Tom was alone,
his parents died years ago and he hasn’t any siblings. All I knew about him it was
what he wanted to tell and it wasn’t so much. Tom didn’t like to talk about his past
and I didn’t care, but my parents were disappointed with him. I fought a lot to keep
the relationship and my parents understand us but it wasn’t possible. So we left
Boston and here, in New York, we built our family and home” – Jen explained them.
Jack glanced at Danny, sitting in front of him, frowned as he heard Mrs. Pullman’s
words.
“Does your husband have an office or desk at home, a place to work or personal
space?” – he asked.
 
“Yes, well, both of us have an office because sometimes we have a lot of work to
do” – she said, “It’s upstairs”.
 
Jack looked at Danny and he stood up and left the living room. Jack stayed with
Mrs. Pullman. “What about your coworkers, Mrs. Pullman, you work in publicity...”
Danny walked upstairs and very soon he found what he was looking for. First, he
went into the bedroom but he didn’t find any interesting things so he headed for
Tom Pullman’s office. He opened the door and in front of him he found an elegant
desk and and library full of books, most of them about work. There were some
ornaments and some pictures of his family.
He checked the papers on the desk and opened the drawers. He took out all the
contents and put them on the desk to check them, looking for a clue.
He was checking the papers when he noticed a shadow at the door. He looked up to
see two small children looking at him with a confident expression. They were
identical. Danny smiled back them.
 
“Hey, you must be...” – he started to say not knowing where to look.
One of the kids who seemed more quicked-witted, explained him. “Hi, I’m Tom and
he is my brother, Daniel. We’re twins. That’s the reason we are identical” – he said,
and then both exchanged a funny look and started to laugh nervously.
Danny smiled and one of the kids, he didn’t know which was Tom and which was
Daniel, asked him “who are you? Are you a policeman?”
 
“No, I’m not, I’m working for the FBI, my name’s Danny”.
 
“Ah, my dad doesn’t like people taking his things” – he said.
“No”- his brother said- “he doesn’t let us in his office. What are you doing?”
 
“He’s looking for fingerprints”- the other said. And looking at Danny he asked
“You’re looking for my daddy, aren’t you?”


Danny nodded not knowing very well what to say.
 
“Last night I heard my mum calling the police, she told them my dad is lost or
something. My dad always told us we have to take his hand or mummy’s hand”.
 
“Come on, Tommy, let’s go and play” – Daniel said, impatiently.
 
“Yes, well, bye Mr FBI” – Tommy said as he running out.
Danny waved goodbye to them and returned to his work, he had stopped, trying to
open the last drawer in the desk. It was locked but he couldn’t see a key. Carefully
he pulled out his knife and after a few attempts he persuaded the drawer to open.
He pulled out the drawer and put it on the desk. It was shorter than the others, so
Danny switched on his torch and looked at the inside of the hole the drawer left,
finding a bundle of notebooks fastened with an elastic band. They were several
blue and landscape little notebooks, the pages of which were joined by a couple of
staples in the centre, so none could be ripped out without being noticed. There
were around twenty notebooks with numbered covers.
 
Danny started to feel a bit uncomfortable when he connected the story Mrs.
Pullman had told them before with those notebooks so familiar to him. He had
written similar notebooks many years ago, even he didn’t know what had
happened to them.
Leaving at his side the rest of things, Danny sat down on Tom Pullman’s chair and
prepared himself to read the well hidden notebooks.
 
“Let’s see what Mr. Pullman is hiding so carefully” – he told himself, as he opened
the first of the notebooks.
 
Five seconds later Danny felt sick and confused. He closed his eyes trying to pull
himself together and calm down.
 
He looked again at that notebook, that handwriting. “Tommy” – he muttered,
letting his mind travel through the past years.
 
 Chapter 2
 
‘Five seconds later Danny felt sick and confused. He closed his eyes as he tried to
pull himself together and calm down.
 
He looked again at that notebook, that handwriting. “Tommy” – he muttered,
letting his mind travel through the years
 
 
 Flashback
 
Mrs. Oldberg had called all the children to the dining room. It was something that
happened when a new kid arrived at the center or if something had happened. Danny
sat down beside Federico ‘Fede’ Guzmán, his best friend, the kid who shared the
bedroom with him and had some depictive issues. They exchange a nervous look;
maybe Mrs. Oldberg caught them at their last business. Danny had a couple of bottles
of whiskey in his bedroom, that he got with the help of a guy paying a little more for
the favor to get them for him. He didn’t want to risk stealing them by himself because
he was already caught stealing liquors and if he was caught again the judge wouldn’t
be so benevolent with him as before.
 
They breathed in relieve when Deborah Oldberg came into the dining room with a
scared boy. Danny grimaced, he didn’t like that feeling. He still remembered his first
day in this place, his third group home, after he was expelled from the others because
his problems with alcohol.
 
Mrs. Oldberg was the finally speaking. “Well guys, this is Thomas Jennings, he’ll be
your roommate for a while. I hope, as always, you’ll give him a warm welcome and
please, remember that bullying isn’t allowed here and it is strictly punished. I don’t
think I’ve said anything funny, Guzmán” – she continued noticing the mocking smile
of Fede Guzmán.
“Silly boy” – the kid muttered – “Have you seen his look? This boy won’t survive here”.
 
“Uhm” – Danny didn’t reply. He wondered how that boy would have arrive there. He
didn’t seem to be very abandoned, his clothes were clean and new and he carried with
him a bag, aparently full of things... it wasn’t the picture he had of himself that day, a
picture he fought constantly to forget. There was something of that boy who caught
his attention.
 
“Daniel Alvarez, are you listening to me?” – it was the third time Deborah Oldberg
tried to get his attention and now she was just in front of him.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Oldberg... I wasn’t...” – Danny started slightly blushed.
 
“I was telling you that Tom will share your room with you. Please, go and show him
the room and help him with his things. Federico, you’ll move to Peter’s room so pick
up your things as well”.
 
Fede grimaced. The three kids headed for the room and Fede whisper something into
Danny’s ear. “No, I don’t think so” – Danny replied.
 
“She’s a bitch, some day I’ll have to do something to that stupid woman, I don’t resist
anymore” – Fede said.
 
“And, what are you going to do... something like, cut her big belly?, maybe she gets to
go down” – Danny suggested, laughing.
Tom looked at them a bit scared. Fede pushed him. “Eh, little boy, wake up, get rid of
that scared face or you won’t see another sunrise.”
 
“Hey, come on, leave him alone” – Danny defended him, not knowing exactly the
reason. He felt sympathy for the boy, even though he hadn’t talked to him. Also, he
didn’t like when someone bullied someone. He could steal liquors, he could get drunk
until ethilic coma, but he didn’t bother anybody else.
 
They walked into the room; Fede came into and picked up some things from the floor,
and put them into a big bag, leaving without a word. Danny shrugged as he pointed
to the bed that would be Tom’s and show him the room. Tom carefully left his bag on
the bed and opened it. He took some new clothes, three pairs of shoes, his books and
notebooks from the school His clothes and shoes where all new. He put everything on
the bed and then turned to Danny who was observing a bit stunned and surprised all
the things.
 
“Where I put all of this?”- Tom asked.
 
“Where you want. There is the wardrobe; I haven’t got many clothes so there is a lot
of space for you. You can use that shelving to put your books... do you have to put the
pictures in sight?”- he finally asked.
“Yes”- Tom replied as he put the books on the shelving. “They are always with me”.
 
“Are they your family?” – Danny asked.
 
“Yes, my parents. They are my only family.”
“What happened?” – Danny asked again.
 
“They died in a plane accident” – Tom said.
 
“ I’m sorry”
 
“And where are your personal effects?”- Tom asked.
 
“Under the bed”
 
“How long have you been living here?”
“A couple of years”.
“Oh, well, I’ll live for almost a year, I’ll try to get a good scholarship to go to the
University and live in the Student’s Residence when I am eighteen”.
“Really? I see you’re thinking about your future”- Danny said- “That’s new here”.
 
“Yes, why? This won’t be here for us forever. We’ll leave this place at the age of
eighteen so all of us should be think about the future” – Tom said surprised.
 
Danny didn’t think about future or past, he just lived the present what it was enough
for him. “Here, we just try to reach the end of the day without incidents.” - he
explained.
 
“What? What kind of incidents?” – Tom asked a bit scared.
Danny laughed. “Don’t worry, nothing will happen!” – he said.
 
Tom liked Danny, he seemed like a good guy and he knew how to manage the
situation pretty well as he was born there. He knew about his problems with alcohol
some days after their first meeting and about what happened during the night since
the first day. He tried to talk about that but Danny didn’t give him the opportunity.
 
End of flashback
 
 

Jack was still in the living room with Mrs. Pullman. He was on the cell listening
Martin talking to him about the information they got at Mr. Pullman’s office when
he saw Danny approaching him, quickly and evidently exciting.
 
“Jack” – he started.
 
But Jack ordered with his hand to be quiet. Danny looked at him with an anxious
expression, but he had to wait.
 
When Jack finished the call, he turned to Mrs. Pullman. “Mrs. Pullman, my
coworker has told me that your husband received a strange letter yesterday
morning... are you sure about his behaviour in the last few days?”
 
“Yes, like I told you, he just seems a little depressed but I think it’s consequence of
the work....”
“Did you notice something strange around the house, someone who caught your
attention at school, at work....”
 
“No!” – she exclaimed – “What’s going on?”
“Ok, do you know someone who could write a note to your husband telling him
‘Tommy, are you going on having a pee in your pants?’ ”
 
“What!”- she exclaimed, she was completely confused and surprised. “What a
fuking joke is that... is it... is it a threat? What does it mean? I don’t know anybody
writing this... thing.”
 
“Jack” – Danny interrupted him. He was absolutely sure about his suspects right
now. “I think I know the person who wrote that”. Danny had the notebooks in his
hand.
 
“Excuse me, Mrs. Pullman” – Jack said, walking behind Danny to a quieter place.
“What did you get, Danny?” – Jack asked, pointing the notebooks.
 
“Tom Pullman wrote these notebooks in the last group home he lived” – Danny
explained, speaking slowly as someone who doesn’t feel comfortable, surely
thinking about the consequences. “He said the director of the home gave him the
notebooks the first day he entered in the house asking him to relate his
experiences, thoughts, anything he wanted to write, a kind of journal”.
 
“And?” – Jack demanded when Danny stopped.
He took a deep breath before continue. “Well, in 1988 on of the guys who lived in
that group home, Federico Guzmán, killed the Director. Other three kids testified
against him. Ohe of them was Tom Pullman. I’m sure that letter was written by
Federico Guzmán.”
 
Jack was already calling at the office. He still has to ask Danny how he knew all of
that. But, by the moment, it was a good idea to investigate that Federico Guzmán.
“Vivian, it’s Jack. Look for on information Federico Guzmán. We may have a lead
on Tom Pullman’s dissapearance”.
 
“Right, Jack” – Vivian replied, as she sat down in front of the computer.
Jack closed the cell and asking Danny to wait there, he headed to the living room,
where Jen Pullman stayed waiting for news.
 
“Mrs. Pullman, excuse me, I have to go to the office. Can you give us a picture of
your husband...”
 
“Yes, of course” – she said, taking a picture from her handbag and handing him. “do
you have any leads about what happened to him?”
 
“We’re working on it, Mrs. Pullman” – Jack didn’t want to tell her the details at least
not until he had confirmation. “If you remember or you think of some thing, please,
call us”.
 
“Yes, right, I’ll do” – she replied.
 
She went with him to the door, where Danny was waiting and said goodbye.
When Jen Pullman close the door Jack turned to Danny. “And now, tell me how you
know what you told me before”.
 
Danny grimace in disgust and shrugged. “I listen to things” – he replied.
Jack looked at him for a moment and he repeat the same words again, completely
confused. “You listened to things? I also listen to things but I don’t conclude the
case so quickly. It is a long way to the office, so I have time. Get into the car”. – he
demanded in an angry tone.
 
“Jack, I’m not...”
 
“One of the things I’ve never understood the reason you don’t trust me” – he cut
him off, obviously pissed off.
 
Danny felt trapped. He knew what happened and that made him furious and
frustrated. He never wanted nobody to know about his life, not only by the fact of
being alcoholic, he hated feel the eyes of the others, the compassion. He grew up by
himself and that was the only important thing for him. His problems or his past
shouldn’t have to worry anybody else but him, but now, because of this case, some
part of his past would be known. All of his childhood would be known; the mistreatment,
the abandoned, the dead of his parents. People would feel sorry for him, but his childhood 
was chaos that only a few people could understand and he felt deeply ashamed about it. 
 
He never pretended justify his behaviour during those years, but it could be justified, but then... 
what would be the difference between him and his brother Rafie? Because if Rafie excused his 
drug addiction and the delictive consequences of that because his childhood, how could he excuse
his alcoholism and his behaviour during his childhood as well? No, it wasn’t right,
there wasn’t an excuse. But all that crap was in the past, it was over, or at least, it
was what he to tell himself every day.
 
“I trust you, Jack, I would trust you my life, but there are some matters I don’t
really want to tell you... it’s not personal, it isn’t about trust... I hope you
understand”.
 
“I see” – Jack frowned. “But, I wonder if what you know or, sorry, you listened to, is
related to our case and I wonder if you could be involved”.
 
“I’m sorry, Jack, but I’m sure the guy who wrote that note and Tom Pullman’s
dissapearance are directly connected and it’s related to what happened in that
group home”- Danny muttered, staring the road.
 
“Well, in that case, do you want to tell me now, or do you prefer an interview room
with micros registering every word you have to tell for the future?” – Jack said.
Actually he didn’t want to do that, but if Danny didn’t tell him what he knew, then
he would have to do it. Usually, when he saw him leaving the office at end of the
day, he wondered what he would do, if he had friends or hobbies. It was out of
curiosity, he didn’t wonder that kind of things about anybody else, maybe because
they tell things here and there. He knew Vivian pretty well and of course Sam.
Martin told them about his aunts and family. But Danny was so private, he didn’t
know about his life out of the office. He was so private that sometimes he felt
uncomfortable, as Danny didn’t trust them or he wasn’t in his team what it was
ridiculous. ‘Well’ – he thought – ‘we’ll have to open the Pandora’s box’.
 
 
 
FBI’s building. New York
November, 30. 11.45 am
 
Vivian sat down in front of her computer, leaving her coffee on the desk. She typed
the name Jack told her ‘Federico Guzmán’ and waited for the results from the
database.
 
A few minutes later, she got a report about Guzmán. He didn’t a big delictive file.
He had been arrest by steal drinks from a liquor store and sentenced to make
works for the community when he was fifteen. His next crime finished at prison,

when he was seventeen because he commited homicide. A year ago he got the
parole and there wasn’t any new incident. Vivian stayed looking at the screen
wondering what could be the connection between this guy and Tom Pullman, their
missing person.
 
She leaned against the chair as took a sip of coffee and thought of where she could
start to investigate from. She saw Martin and Sam entering in the bullpen and
approaching to her.
 
“Hi” – Viv said. “Have you got something?”
 
“Well, it seems Mr. Pullman has a special enemy”- Martin said, waving the plastic
with the letter Tom had received that morning. He handed Vivian to read it. “Yeah,
I told you it was special”- Martin repeated smiling when he noticed the perplex
face of Vivian.
 
“Wait a moment” – Vivian, looked again the screen, the information about Federico
Guzmán still in it, “Give me that, please”- she demanded.
 
Martin handed her the note again. “It seems... it seems old school bickering, or...”-
she looked the screen, “as they had lived in the same place. Listen, in 1998, this
guy, Federico Guzmán, Jack asked me to investigate him” – she explained noticing
the question looks in her coworkers – “Well, Federico Guzmán was guilty of
homicide and he was in prison until a year ago, more or less. Maybe, he and Tom
Pullman are connected to that event” – she continued typing in the computer.
Seconds later, the details of that event appeared in the screen. Vivian read them
and commented to her coworkers. “Guzmán killed Deborah Oldberg, stabbing her
several times. Deborah Oldberg was the principal of the Group Home where he
lived. He hadn’t eighteen and he was under drugs effects, so he got an extenuating,
but it was three witness testifying in the hearing... Thomas Jennings, Sandra
Mayoral and...” Vivian stopped talking for a moment “Gosh, what a surprise” – she
muttered.
“What’s going on?” – Martin asked.
 
Vivian didn’t tell anymore, simply she turned the screen to her coworkers and they
could read the third name. “Daniel Alvarez” – Martin read, frowning- “Danny?” – he
asked.
 
Vivian continued looking for more information from the computer. “Let me see, the
only valid statement on Court was Sandra Mayoral’s, confirming her previous
statement to the police” – she grimaced.
 
“Well” – Martin said, “but, Vivian, I still don’t know what Tom Pullman has to do
with this”.
 
Vivian continued reading. “The three witness of the case were sent to different
group homes until they reached eighteen, when they got a new identity, a new
social security number, and so on, but they didn’t enter the witness protection
system”.
 
“And the new identities are...” – Sam started.
“Tom Pullman, Sandra Fischer and Daniel Taylor. Tom Pullman went to Boston,
Sandra Fischer to Dayton, Ohio, and Danny to New York”.
 
“Well, if this Guzmán is out of prison looking for revenge, we’ll have to find Ms.
Fischer” - Martin said.
Vivian nodded. “I’ll check everything about this guy, Guzmán, maybe I’ll find what
is doing with his life now”.
 
As she started her work, Martin and Sam looked for information to contact Sandra
Fischer.
 
Sandra had paid her stay for a hotel using her credit card; the information about
her was easy to find in the computer. Sam noticed the date of the charge in the card
credit, the day before, 29 November, the same day of Pullman’s disappearance.
Martin and Sam left the office to the hotel where Sandra stayed since the day
before.
Martin and Sam showed their ID to the receptionist in the hotel.
 
“What’s Sandra Fischer’s room, please?” – Martin asked.
 
The receptionist looked for the entries book nervously until he found Sandra’s
name. “She in room 414, fourth floor... but she isn’t there, right now”.
Sam had already had turned too headed for the elevator, turned back and looked at
him with curiosity. “Is there something you talking about?”
 
“Eh... well” – the receptionist rubbed his hands nervously – “actually... look, Ms.
Fischer is a current client of our hotel, she comes around two or three times in a

year, for one or two weeks, depending on the works she has to do. She works in an
Art Gallery, you know?”
Martin eyebrowed impatiently.
 
The receptionist, who was a bit of a gossip man, continued with his explanation.
“Well, so Ms. Fischer arrived here yesterday morning. Ten minutes later, a
messenger bring an envelope for her, that I handed her about half hour later, when
she come back from her room. I saw her going out the hotel but she came back in
quickly. She was visibly upset; I asked her if she was ok, if she needed something.
She asked me to change her room and if someone asked for her, I didn’t say her
new room and tell she wasn’t here. Two hours later, she went out again. I asked
her if she was ok, and replied she was fine, she would go to work and probably
would came back late. Ms. Fischer is usually very pleasant and we have a certain
friendship” – he said clarifying the usual information he got about a client.
 
“Having that certain friendship... do you know the address of the Art Gallery?” –
Sam asked.
“Sure”- he said and after a short search, he handed her a card with her name and
address of the Art Gallery in New York.
 
“Thanks” – Sam said.
“Eh, when she came back, did you notice if she was worried or something?” –
Martin asked.
 
“I didn’t see her, my shift finish at four in the afternoon, but my coworker could tell
you something. Eh, wait a moment” – the receptionist glanced the entries book
again and frowned. “It’s strange”.
 
“What?”
 
“Normally, we register all the enters after a determined time, at 22.00, and Ms.
Fischer didn’t come back last night”
 
“Maybe she returned before that time...”
 
“I didn’t see her this morning, either” – he replied, dialling a number. After a
moment he looked at them worried. “She isn’t in her room”.
Sam and Martin exchanged a significant look. “I’ll go to the Art Gallery” – Martin
said.
 
“Ok, I’ll go to her room, maybe I find that envelope or the note she received. I guess
it can be something similar what Pullman received”. – Sam said.
Sandra Fischer turned around and went back to the hotel again. After she asked the
receptionist for a change of room, she picked up her things and locked in her new
room. She sat down on the bed, as she left tears falling freely through her face. She
took the piece of papers between her trembling fingers and read the only sentence
written on it,
 
‘Hi, little Sandra, you always was the smartest. So, you’ll be the last to die”.
She didn’t know what to do. In a couple of hours she would have to leave the hotel to
go to the Art Gallery. She sighed deeply... maybe it was a bad joke... just that... it was
impossible Fede Guzmán knew about her... or was it?. She never thought about taking
caution... she remembered last year when her picture appeared on a magazine
introducing one exhibition... he could have recognize her by that photo, he could
know where she worked.
 
She got up, it couldn’t be, she was getting paranoid. Maybe working would be the best
she could do, she would get distrated and she finally would see everything in a
different way. Yes, she’d go to work. After she put sorted her clothes, picked up a
dress, she took a shower, again, dressed and left the room ready to go to the Art
Gallery.
 
She left the Hotel telling the receptionist she probably would come back late and took
a cab.
 
At work, she stayed for about five hours, a short time for her. It was a relief the warm
welcome she always got when arrived New York and her coworkers made her to
forget for a while the bad events of the morning. She totally focused on her work; the
next exhibition would give them at least three weeks of hard work if they wanted
everything was ok. It was near nine at night, when they decided finis work. She joined
with a couple of coworkers and went to a near cafe where they were talking and
having fun time.
 
They left the café around 22.30, say goodbyes and Sandra took a cab... and
distractedly gave the driver the address of the hotel.
Jack and Danny driving back to the office. As Jack was driving, Danny started to tell
him what had happened that fateful March day in 1988...
 
“The day Fede stabbed Mrs. Oldberg, I was in a room under the main stairs, where I
used to hide when I didn’t want to go to the school or I wanted to hide... eh, well,
the fact is that Tom and other girl from the group, Sandra, were in that room when
we heard Mrs. Oldberg talking on the phone, she was very upset. I think she was
called from the school to tell her about our absence, it was the first time Tom
missed the classes, and being an outstanding student, surely it caught the attention
of the teachers.
 
When she hung up, she turned around and met Guzmán, who was looking for her.
He was under the influence of drugs; lately he was using a lot and he didn’t care
what Mrs. Oldberg thought about him being in that state. She was so angry because
the call and reprimanded him. I don’t know what Guzmán was thinking but both
started to argue and finally he got out a knife and stabbed her. We got out of the
room and tried to separate them, but it was too late for Mrs. Oldberg. When the
police arrived they pronounced her dead. Fede had escaped but we testified and
told the police the place Fede used to go. An hour later, they arrested him”.
 
“Did you testify in the trail?” – Jack asked.
“Yes, we did. After that event, all the kids were separated and sent to other groups
home and we three were given new identities and sent out of the State of Florida,
at least, it was what I was told by social services”.
 
“Did you keep contact after with them after that?”
“No, I didn’t know their new identity or the city they were sent. I... I didn’t want to
keep contact anymore”.
 
“Well, if Tom Pullman’s dissapearance has something to do with this, we’ll have to
contact the other girl. Maybe she knows something or maybe she has received
other note... in any case, it would be a good idea to put her some protection until
we know what’s happening”.
“Yes”- Danny said in low tone, a bit absent.
 
“If you remember something else important for the case...” – Jack started.
“Sure” – replied Danny in the same low tone.
 
They had stopped in a red traffic light. Jack wanted to talk to him but he intuited it
wasn’t a good idea. When he chose Danny Taylor as part of his team, it wasn’t just
the report from Quantico what help him to decide, he passed the practise time
getting an excellent qualification, he showed a sensitive and capacity to reach the
people that called his attention because his childhood and he had a mature
behaviour that was way beyond his years. When, checking his notes, he knew
about his life in differents group homes during his childhood, Jack asked Social
Service for some files about him that showed a very different point of view of
Danny. Those files made him hesitate but finally, when he personally interviewed
the young agent, he realized the young Danny had experienced a big change since
those years and his life in the streets could help a lot with the kind of job he would
have to do. Danny never said a word about those years and Jack never told him
about what he knew about his life. He always waited fruitlessly that Danny opened
up to him, but it never happened. He felt sad when Martin was told about his
alcohol addiction, Martin, the last member of the team... maybe being the boss was
the obstacle. He can understand why he opened up to Vivian when his brother was
missing, he tried to leave him out of the case because he knew that probably Danny
couldn’t handle with it, but Danny was so stubborn that didn’t give him a choice.
The uncomfortable silent in the car was fortunately stopped by the bip from Jack’s
cell, ringing just when they were leaving the car in the parking lot.
“Malone” – Jack said.
 
“Jack, its Martin, listen, we’ve got a connection between Pullman and that guy you
asked to investigate, Guzmán. There is also a woman, Sandra Fischer, she could be
related too. She lives in London but she’s in New York at the moment. Sam and I
went to the hotel where she is staying and it seems she received a similar letter
than Pullman, yesterday morning, when she arrived in New York. She left the hotel
for work but she never came back. Sam is checking her room looking for some
leads and I’m on my way to the Art Gallery where she works to talk her coworkers
and boss”.
 
“Ok, good work... I know about that woman. Martin, call me when you got
something”.
 
“Jack.... there is something else. It’s about... about Danny”- Martin felt a bit
uncomfortable talking to his boss about his coworker and friend. But he surprised
by the quick reply from Jack.
“Don’t worry about that, Martin”.
 
 
 Chapter 3

 
 New York, FBI building
November, 30. 07.00 pm
 
The investigation reached a dead end. They had two missing people, two letters,
and one suspect. One missing suspect, because they didn’t have any leads on him.
No credit card, no current address. He had been fired from his job when his boss
had found drugs in his booking office the previous month and the only address
they had was the one he had left months ago. So they had nothing about Guzmán.
On the whiteboard, beside Tom Pullman’s picture, Sam had put the picture of
Sandra Fischer that she had got from the Art Gallery. On the other board, where
they put the suspects, the only picture was of Federico Guzmán; the connection
between both young people.
 
They had to wait; wait for a mistake; wait for some movement; wait for some
contact with Mrs. Pullman or someone from the Art Gallery asking for a rescue or
something. Tom Pullman had been missing since 12.45 on 29 November when he
headed to the toilets in the café where he used have lunch. Sandra Fischer was
seen taking a cab at around 22:00 after finishing work and spending some time
with her co-workers. The interrogation of the cab-driver suggested that it was very
possible that Guzmán was looking after Ms. Fischer.
Danny stayed in the office. Jack wanted Danny to go home; being the link between
those three people, maybe he would be safer there. But Danny felt like a tiger in a
cage. He was feeling paranoid, noticing the looks people were giving him, knowing
everybody was talking about him. Any conversation between his co-workers that
he didn’t hear made him very nervous and finally he had an uncomfortable
confrontation with Martin, fortunately cut off by Vivian. Meanwhile the three
pictures remained there, looking at him, as waiting for his reaction, his reply... He
thought, looking at Federico Guzmán’s picture, that maybe it was him that he was
waiting for. He hadn’t received any note. What if Guzmán knew where he worked?
What if he took Tom and Sandra to get his attention? No, it would be stupid. To get
the attention of the FBI wasn’t a great idea. But, what did he want? Guzmán hadn’t
contacted Tom’s family or Sandra’s coworkers. Maybe he had sent a letter to his
home, but he wouldn’t know if Jack didn’t let him to go out. How had he got so
much information about them if he left the prison about a year ago?
 
He sat down and opened google, typed Sandra Fischer and Tom Pullman. A
moment later, he found some press notes making reference to the Art Gallery and
its activities. He read in the New York Times an article and saw a picture of a young
worker at the Art Gallery... Sandra Fischer. It was easy.
He rose and headed for Jack’s office thinking about heading home to try to find that
note for him. He had printed the New York Times page about Sandra Fischer.
He knocked softly on the door and entered when Jack beckoned to him, closing it
behind him.
 
“Jack, I know this doesn’t help the case but I was wondering how Guzmán found
Sandra and Tom so I typed their names into google and I found this” – he said,
handing him the paper.
 
“What about Tom Pullman?”- Jack asked, reading the information about Sandra.
 
“There is some information in financial papers; his work in Parker & Sons gave him
international recognition. There is a photo with his name in some papers. Its
possible Guzmán had read the papers and identified them. He also has enough
information to find them; at least, he knew where they work”.
 
“Uhm” – Jack muttered. “What was the witness protection system doing?”
 
“There wasn’t any protection, Jack; it was simply new identities and a new place to
live. We were told that it was better for us if we weren’t linked with the murder in
the other group home, and it wasn’t registered in our files, they did everything they
could not to make it any worse” – Danny explained to him.
 
Danny noticed Jack had the notebooks that Tom had written when he had stayed in
the group home and he couldn’t help but ask. “Have you read them?” – he said, as
he indicated with his eyes toward the notebooks.
 
“Something” – Jack said - “But there isn’t enough information about Guzmán,
everything written here is before the murder of Mrs. Oldberg, just a kind of
journal”.
 
“Yes, sure. Eh, Jack, I’m thinking that maybe if I go home...”
“No way, Danny” – Jack cut off him.
 
“Jack, please, we are at a dead end, maybe Guzmán sent a letter to me, maybe we
can find a lead” – Danny was almost pleading.
“No way you’re leaving this building. If you want, I can tell one of your co-workers
to go, but you won’t leave these offices, do you understand?”
 
“No Jack, I don’t want to put them in danger because of me”.
 
“And, do you want me to let you go?”
“We have to do something”.
 
“Yes, that’s true” – Jack said. Danny was right, they had to do something but right
now they hadn’t got anything to continue the investigation.
Danny was looking at the notebooks, hesitation on his face. Finally... “Could you let
me read those notebooks?”
 
Jack handed them to him. “Read them, maybe you will find something. Try to find
what I didn’t see before, but I don’t think you will because as I told you, all that is
written is before the murder of Mrs. Oldberg and her murder is the only reason I
see Guzmán acting the way he is.”
 
“Ok, thanks”- Danny replied and left the office quickly. Instead of going to his desk,
he headed for one of the interview rooms. He wanted to stay quiet and he was sure
nobody would interrupt him in that room.
 
He closed his eyes and let his memory travel back to when he had shared his life
with the three people involved in the case.
 
 
 Flashback
 
 
Tom was puting his clothes in the wardrobe when Danny came quickly into the room,
got out something from his jacket and hid it under the bed. Tom grimaced in disgust,
but he didn’t say anything.
 
Danny sat down on the bed and looked at Tom, as he putting his things away. Tom
looked back and saw an intense look in Danny’s eyes. “What’s going on, Danny?”
 
“What did your parents do for a living? – he asked.
“Why do you want to know ?” – Tom replied.
 
“I don’t know, I just guess that they did well, judging by how you are.
“Are you upset with me, Danny?”- Tom asked, as his body tensed
Danny noticed, and tried to soften his attitude.
 
“No, absolutely not. It’s just… I don’t know… it’s strange, you’re different from the
others”.
 
“Listen Danny, my parents worked hard to get a better life for them and for me, do
you know? They were good people; not everybody here comes from a poor life, from
drunk parents, or were abandoned” – Tom replied, clearly upset; he was getting tired
of the attitude from the other kids, who thought he was a stupid boy. But he
immediately regretted his words; this was Danny, his friend, who he saw everyday,
better, every night, and who’d had a bad childhood. He didn’t deserve his abrupt tone.
“Sorry, I’m sorry, Danny, I didn’t mean to say that” – the pain in Danny’s eyes, hurt
him. But it was just a flash. Without warning Danny’s usual arrogant expression
appeared, but he remained quiet.
 
“You know” – Tom continued – “My father worked in a hotel on the coast, he and my
mum met there, when he was a simple student in the kitchen and she cleaned the
rooms every day. When they died he was the boss in the kitchen and she organized all
the people who worked at servicing the rooms. The Hotel gave them a present the day
of their 20th wedding anniversary… they never enjoyed it”
 
“I’m sorry” – Danny said – “I mean, I’m really sorry, it must be hard when you loose a
true family. Sometimes I wished my father was dead and later, sometimes I wished
my brother was dead too, so actually, I just felt sorry for my mum… that isn’t so bad,
is it?”.
Tom looked at him in surprised. Danny had a sad look in his brown eyes. He never had
talked to him about this before and now Tom, seeing him so vulnerable, didn’t know
what to say. He couldn’t believe it was possible to wish the death of a father or
brother.
 
“I didn’t know you have a brother. Why isn’t he with you?” – he finally asked.
 
“He’s older”
 
“And why don’t you live with him?”
“At first we lived together. But it didn’t work”. Danny felt suddenly uncomfortable. He
didn’t like to talk about this, but somehow Tom made him trust him.
Tom noticed the change and decided to turn the conversation.
 
“My father taught me some things in the kitchen… you would be surprised by what I
know how to cook for dinner” – Tom said.
 
"Oh, do you? Why don’t you teach me something?”- Danny asked, suddenly interested.
“Are you really interested?” – Tom asked in surprise. He would never have guessed
that Danny was interested in anything other than getting hold of a bottle of alcohol.
 
“Sure, as you told me one day, we’ll be out of here soon, and I want to eat something
really good…”
 
“I thought you didn’t think about the future”
“Not me, but my stomach thinks”- Danny laughed.
 
 
End of flashback.
 
 
Danny picked up one of the notebooks and opened it. He doubted he would find
anything interesting about the case in them and he was almost sure that Guzmán
was waiting for him, but... could he have missed some detail? Would they have
talked about something during those years that he didn’t remember but that
Guzmán was wanting from him?
 
He started to read, trying to find the answer in the notebooks.
 
20 December, 1987
 
It’s 22.00. In the house there is an unusual silent or, at least, I think there is. Maybe
it’s what has happened today that is making me feel this way. I’m sat at my desk, in
my room, with only the light from the little lamp. I pointed the light to the wall, trying
not to bother Danny, who, finally, has fallen asleep. I stayed awake last night so it
would be so easy to fall asleep but the events of the day are keeping me awake and I
need to write them in my journal before I go to bed.
Yesterday, as I said before, we put up the Christmas tree. It’s the first and last
Christmas time that I will spend here. The general feeling is strange, I guess nobody is
happy, I know I’m not, but everybody is trying to do their best to stay happy.
But the night was terrible. Danny had nightmares all night, talking, crying and
moving on the bed constantly. I woke him up a couple of times, but all that happened
was that he curled up and turned to face the wall. Then he was quiet for a while until
the nightmares started again. He has nightmares almost every night, but this time
they were worse; he sounded desperate and it didn’t stop all night.
 
Early in the morning he left the house and I didn’t see him until later. I felt sick after
the bad night and Mrs. Oldberg let me stay at home, so after I had tried to study
without falling asleep on the desk, I went to the living room to watch the tv. There
wasn’t anybody at home, all the kids were at school and I pretended I was at home
and that my parents would come back home at any moment. I was thinking about
them when I heard a crack behind me, beside the stairs. When I heard it once again, I
approached and opened the door I had thought was just a decoration on the wall. But
under the stairs there was a little room. What I saw I’ll never forget. There was a
huge number of empty bottles of whiskey, liquor, beer, in a corner of the room. A little
flashlight light up the place and, sat in the corner, leaning against the wall, was
Danny, with another bottle in his hands, still with drink in it. I closed the door and sat
down beside him, not knowing what to say or to do.
 
“Hey, what are you doing here?” – It was a stupid question, I know, but I wanted to
get him to speak to me. After the night he had spent, I couldn’t endure seeing him like
that.
 
Danny looked at me, with a sarcastic expression on his face. “You’re invading my
place”- he told me.
 
“Your place? Eh man, you’re under the stairs, this isn’t your place”.
“I found it”.
 
“Yeah, I see, it’s here where you hide to drink all of this... are you crazy man ... are you
trying to kill yourself or what?”
 
“Maybe... maybe it’s the only way they stop talking” – he told me, as opened the bottle
he had in his hands.
“Give me that” – I tried to take the bottle but he wouldn’t let me. “Danny, this is not
the solution for anything, give that bottle, please” – I asked gently, but he wouldn’t
listen..
 
I got up enough courage to take away the bottle. I threw it into the corner where the
others bottles lay and some of them scattered with the impact. The glasses mixed
with the liquid and a strong smell of liquor hung in the air.
 
“What are you doing?!”- he yelled at me. “Do you know how much that cost?”
“I don’t care, Danny, you can’t go on doing this to yourself. You’ll be out of here very
soon, do you want to be an alcoholic the rest of your life and end under a bridge with
the homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics?”
 
“It’s not your business!”- he yelled at me again.
 
“You’re my friend, Danny. It’s my business, I do care about you. I don’t want you to
destroy your life. Come on Danny, you’re a smart guy, you’re very intelligent, I know,
I’ve seen your results and they are excellent and you hardly need any time to study.
Look at me, I spend hours trying to understand the subject and my results are as good
as your’s but you spend just half the time to understand everything...”
“Yeah, yeah... I know that. I’m the smart guy... so then... tell me, Tom, why don’t they
ever stop talking to me?”
“Who?” – I asked, but Danny didn’t reply. After a long silence I tried again; 
I didn’t have anything to loose.
 
“Tell me what happened, Danny. Why are you living here?”
I was surprised when Danny replied easily to my question.
 
“My parents died; I was eleven and my brother didn’t have a job. I spent a short time
in temporary custody until my brother got a job, then I went to live with him.”
“What happened to your parents?”
 
“There was a car accident. My father was drunk and yelling at my mum; he was
distracted and crashed into a tree. End of story.”.
 
“Once you told me you didn’t care about your father dying”
“He was a bastard; he was always yelling, and when he was drunk he would beat us
without any reason. Rafie suffered a beating almost every day, sometimes for
something he did... sometimes for something I did…”
 
“What do you mean?”
“Rafie protected me; sometimes my father would be about to beat me and Rafie
would say something and he would punch him instead of me... but when my father
didn’t get drunk he wasn’t such a bad person...” – Danny frowned, thoughtful, as if he
wasn’t sure about what he’d just said.
 
“What happened to your brother?”
 
“Well, he got a job and I went back to live with him, at home, but then he started
using and everthing went wrong. One day I found him on the ground with a needle in
his arm. He wasn’t moving and I thought he was dead, but he was still alive so I

called 911 and everything ended. I was thirteen and my only option was a group
home, so, here I am”.
 
“Have you lived here since then?”
 
“Not here. I spent some time in other groups home, before they fired me” – he said
pointing to the empty bottles. “Have you ever felt that you don’t have anybody? If I
died here and now, nobody would miss me and I wouldn’t have to hear my father
yelling; my mum’s words just before she died; Rafie’s screams; all those pictures in my
mind... the doctors trying to save Rafie...”
 
“Is your brother dead?”
“No, he recovered, but he was arrested months later for carrying drugs. The Social
Services sent to me a letter; he was sent to prison and I think he is still there... you
know, I don’t have a family to feel proud of or who love me... and that’s hard... I... I
don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone. .. I don’t know what it is like to love someone...
what it is that you feel...”
 
I was sat down beside him; he didn’t look at me directly, but I could see the tears
rolling down his face. I put my arm around his shoulders and gently put his head onto
my chest. In that moment, I understood that Danny wasn’t able to get over what had
happened to his family; that he was unable to move on and build a new life; that it
was too painful and that the only thing he found comfortable was, simply, repeating
the behaviour he had seen during his childhood, and drown his memories in alcohol.
He’s only seventeen, for god sake and he’s an alcoholic. That certainty made me
shake. I embraced him tightly as he continued crying for what felt like hours. Finally,
I noticed he was calmer and then he fell asleep,leaning on me. I guess the sound of my
heartbeat was soothing. I remembered my mum telling me that when I was a child
she would hold me on her lap. I tried to picture Danny on his mum’s lap but I
couldn’t.
 
Well, that was what happened. When we left the room, neither of us talked about it
again, but Danny spent all the day with me, strangely quiet and obedient. Finally he
came back to our bedroom and went to bed. I think that he is going to get some sleep
tonight.
I’ve reread what I’ve written and I’m surprised because I remember clearly every
second of that conversation and what happened this morning in that room; I don’t
think I’ll ever forget it.
 
Danny closed the notebook carefully. He remembered that room under the stairs,
of course, and also the bottles being scattered on the floor and the liquid around
them; but that conversation... he didn’t remember it, or Tommy with him in the
room, or staying with him for the rest of the day. He tried to remember but he
couldn’t. He’d worked hard at erasing bad situations from his past. He came back
to the notebooks, trying to concentrate on the case, but he reached a point were he
couldn’t go on; it was too painful for him. With his elbows on the table and his chin
resting on his hands, he frowned, trying to find a lead in the case, at the same time
as he tried to suppress the old painful memories that were starting to come back to
him. He had to stop them if he didn’t want his ghost to win... and he had to find
Tom as soon as possible.
 
Some short knocks on the door got his attention as the door was opened. It was
Viv; she handed him an envelope, a yellow envelope similar to the ones Tom and
Sandra had received. Viv sat down in front of him and looked at him in concern.
“How you feel, Danny?” – she asked.
 
Danny felt very uncomfortable. He was still pulling himself together from the
emotional events he had read in Tom’s notebooks and from the way Viv was
looking at him, he guessed she had been watching him through the false mirror. He
knew he couldn’t lie to Viv, it was impossible. He shrugged his shoulders and she
smiled.
“I don’t think you should be working this case, Danny, but it looks as if it’s not safe
for you to go out of here, so... when this case is closed, I don’t expect you head
home on your own, OK?”
 
“What do you mean?” – Danny asked.
“I mean I have a lot of food left over from Thanksgiving and an extra stomach will
be welcome... You don’t know how tired I am of eating turkey everyday in a variety
of guises” – Vivian explained to him, with a smile.
 
Viv always got what she wanted without making you feel bad... well, not always,
when she got angry, it was better to keep away from her.
“Sure, I love turkey, Viv. I’ll come”.
 
“Fine”- she said, and handed him the envelope. “This has just arrived at the office,
for you. Jack asked me to give it to you. It seems our guy knows where you are”.
 
“Yes, it seems that way” - Danny said, as opened the envelope. He extracted a piece
of paper, similar to the one’s that Tom and Sandra had received; the one Mark
Hobson gave to Martin at Tom’s office, and the one Sam found in Sandra’s room at
the hotel. Just a sentence,“It’s late for our meeting. Only you aren’t here yet”
and an address in New York.
Danny handed the paper to Vivian. “I don’t understand, Viv. He knows that if I go, I
won’t go alone. He knows where I work and what I do here. I don’t like this
situation”.
Both left the interview room and headed for Jack’s office. They found the address;
It was fire damaged, condemned building. The address told him where he should
go... fourth floor, room 414.
 
“Wait a moment” – Martin interrupted. “Fourth floor, room 414, it can’t be a
coincidence. That’s the same room number that Sandra Fischer had in the hotel”.
“It’s sure he keeps them there. What I don’t understand is why he is giving us the
address... Does he wants to be arrested or what?” – Danny asked.
 
“Maybe he is obsessed with what he wants to do and he hasn’t thought about the
consequences, Danny. He only wants you; it’s all that is important for him”- Jack
explained to him.
 

Chapter 4
20.00 4th floor, room 414
 

Tom Pullman and Sandra Fischer sat on the floor on opposite sides of the room,
their hands tied behind their backs and their feet bound together. Fede Guzmán
had spent most of the day with them. Sandra had tried talking to him in an attempt
to win his trust and get him to explain why he was doing this to them but Guzmán
had slapped her hard and ordered to her to keep silent.
 
“This meeting will start just when the four of us are here” – he said.
He spent all day carving a piece of wood with his knife. From time to time he
approached the window and lit a cigarette, staring at them, but he never said a
word.
 
It was getting dark. Guzmán looked at the time and shook his hand. “This stupid
guy won’t come... I’m going to have to get him” – he muttered. He took an envelope,
wrote an address and scribbled some words on a piece of paper that he placed in
the envelope. “I’m going out. Don’t try anything”. – he said, in a threatening tone.
Once he left the room, Tom and Sandra tried to remove the ties, but they couldn’t.
Finally, exhausted, and gave up.
 
“What do you think he’s going to do with us?” – Sandra asked in a scared tone.
 
“I don’t know, this guy is crazy. I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I guess he
has been looking for us for a long time. How did he find us?” – Tom said.
 
“I have no idea” – Sandra replied. “Do you think he’s waiting for Danny?”
 
“Sure. I suppose he was looking for him too and sent a note. Or Danny didn’t see it
or didn’t pay attention to it, because I think Fede is going to find him.” - Tom
frowned. What can have become of Danny, he wondered.
 
“How are things going?” – Sandra asked.
 
“Uhm? Oh, eh... fine. Well, I went to Boston after the group home in Miami was
closed. I got a sholarship to enter in the University, so for four years I was living in
the Residence while I was studying...”
 
“What did you study?” – she asked.
 
“Economics. I chose Accounts as my speciality and I got a job in Parker & Sons
when I finished. I was lucky”.
 
“Are you married? Do you have children?”
 
“Hey, is this an interview or something?” – Tom smiled faintly. “Yes, I’m married. I
met my wife, Jen, at University. She was studying Economics like me but her
speciality is marketing. She’s an excellent publicist. We have six year old twin boys;
Tom and Daniel.
 
“Daniel!” – she exclaimed.
“Yes. Do you remember that day we were talking about what would we like to do
when we were grown up?”
 
“Yes, sure, under the stairs, in our secret room. I remembered that.... I wanted a
house with garden...”- she said.
“Yes, and I wanted a family. I remember that I told Danny that if I had two boys, the
second would be called Daniel”.
 
“Yeah, and he told you that you were crazy... I remember. I went to Dayton and
studied Art History. Then the art gallery I work for offered me the chance to study
for my Masters in London, so I left the States and now I live in London....”
“In a house with a garden?”
 
“No, but I live in front of a park, in a very comfortable apartment. I’m not married
and I haven’t any children, but I have a wonderful room-mate and co-worker... Julie
Newman... and Danny? What do you think what can have become of him?”
“I have no idea. Last time I saw him was at the hearing...” – Tom shook his head, a
sad expression on his face.
 
 
 
Flashback
 
 
From the back of the Court, a hesitant Danny Alvarez walked towards the witness
stand. A couple of times he stumbled and nearly fell and an assistant had to help him
sit down on the stand. Meanwhile, from his seat, Federico Guzmán smiled, and Tom
and Sandra exchange sad looks. Tom couldn’t believe that Danny was drunk……… not
the day of the hearing. The one good thing was that his whole testimony was
repeated. The lawyer only had to read the statement Danny had given the day it had
happened, but Danny couldn’t corroborate it. He left the court in the same way he
entered, but Tom noticed that one of the social workers who went to the group home,
followed Danny out; at least he wouldn’t be alone, he thought.
 
Tom couldn’t tell them anything new. He confirmed his previous statement, but
seeing Danny like that had dulled his senses.
 
However, Sandra only felt rage. She had lived in the group home for a long time and
she appreciated how Mrs. Oldberg and the social workers had helped them all
through a difficult moment in their lives. Her parents had abandoned her when she
was nine, together with her two little brothers, leaving them at the door of a Church,
before disappearing from their lives. Her two brothers had been adopted but she
hadn’t been so lucky and had ended up living with Mrs. Oldberg group home, where,
little by little, things started to go better than she had ever thought they would. Years
later, she found out her mum had died of an overdose but there hadn’t been any word
about her father. She knew where her brothers were living, but they were living a
long way away from Miami and soon forgot her. They had been aged one and three
years old the last time Sandra had seen them.
Sandra went up to the witness stand and told the jury exactly what had happened on
March, 12, 1988, when Federico Guzmán had killed Mrs. Oldberg with his knife. She
left out what Fede had yelled to Danny as he tried to get his attention as she, Tom
and Danny had tried to pull him away from Mrs. Oldberg, “Didn’t you want to see
how she went down! Look at her, Danny, she is fatter than an old pig!” – Fede
laughed, hysterically, clearly under the effect of drugs.
 
Sandra confirmed her original statement, and calmly answered all the question she
was asked, surprising many of the people present at the hearing.
Federico Guzmán was found guilty and was given 25 years in prison, with the
possibility of an early release with good behaviour due to him being under 18 and
under the influence of drugs at the time of the murder.
 
 
End of flashback
 
 
“I can’t believe what’s happening”- Sandra muttered, as she started to fight against
the ropes. She was hurting herself and she felt the pain in her wrist and the blood
dripping from it. Tired and scared, she stopped fighting and started to sob... “I don’t
want to die here, Tom... I don’t want to die. I have so many things I want to do; this
can’t be happening” – she said, looking at him desperately.
Tom didn’t know what to say as he tried to untie the rope binding his wrists, but
like Sandra, his wrists started to bleed and he knew he couldn’t do anything but
wait... wait for what? Pictures of Jen and his children crossed his mind. Oh my God
Jen, surely she would be worried... the thought he never would see them again
brought tears to his eyes.
 
Both stayed there, crying, unable to do anything else. Just wait.
 
November, 30. 22.00
 
The police surrounded the building while the SWAT teams took their position.
They knew that there were hostages and they had to take precautionary measures
to avoid hurting them. Jack arrived with Danny. Sam and Martin were there
already, wearing FBI vests. Jack got out of the car, picking up his vest from the back
seat. Noticing Danny doing the same, he stopped him.

“Eh, Danny, it would be better if you stay here”
“What?”- he complained.
 
“Danny you’re too nervous with all of this; you’re emotionally involved and there
are too many people working here, I don’t want you to do anything silly, so, please,
stay here.” – Jack told him firmly.
 
“Jack, please, I have to go”.
“No, you don’t. You will obey my orders and stay here. Listen, I’m going out on a
limb for you. I should have taken you off the case at the start but I didn’t. I’m not
going to discuss this with you now, OK?”
 
Danny shook his head in disgust and got back into the car, a bad-tempered
expression on his face. With his arms crossed he waited. Waiting wasn’t one of his
best qualities.
 
He watched as the police lit up the building and called to Federico Guzmán through
a megaphone. Meanwhile the SWAT team entered the building and started to check
it looking for Guzmán and, most importantly, the hostages.
 
On the morning of November 29, Federico Guzmán had left an envelope addressed
to Danny Taylor in his mailbox; an envelope which contained a piece of paper with
a single sentence written on it. It was an address... was it unreasonable to expect
him to go to it? But Guzmán didn’t know that Danny hadn’t gone home until the
next morning and, when he did, he was so tired that he hadn’t noticed the letter in
his mailbox.
 
Now, Guzmán was becoming impatient, so he took another envelope, wrote the
message out again and, leaving his two hostages, drove to the FBI’s office. From a
nearby dispenser he bought a couple of newspapers then entered the building. At
reception he asked about the opening hours of the Human Resources Department,
explaining that he wanted to apply for a job as a messenger. As soon as the
receptionist had given him this information he left quickly, taking the newspapers
with him but leaving the envelope on the counter. He knew the envelope would be
handed to Taylor very soon.
 
Guzmán wasn’t a stupid person; he wasn’t very intelligent either. He knew that by
luring Danny Taylor to him he also was drawing the FBI and the police to him as
well. So, knowing he had only a short time before they came, he went to his
apartment and collected a vest with the initials FBI on its back. Then he returned
to the place where Sandra and Tom were trying desperately to untie themselves.
“I’m back!”- Guzmán said, opening the door. He smiled as he saw Tom and Sandra’s
expressions.
 
“Hey, hey, hey... What’s going on? Have you been crying? But why? Come on, guys,
this is a meeting of old friends. A chance to talk about us and remember old times”.
He approached Sandra and saw her bloody hands. He shook his head in disapproval and 
then he saw Tom’s hands in a similar condition. “You didn’t take any notice of me, 
I told you not to try anything. Well, while we wait for Danny, I’m going to prepare 
some things for our little... chat. Tom, I remember you wanted to know what I felt when 
I injected this wonderful liquid into my body, didn’t you?”- he said as he pulled out a 
little bag and all the paraphernalia to prepare a dose.

Tom swallowed. “I... I don’t know, Fede, I don’t remember, maybe... I, I don’t know”.
 
“I remember very well, Tom. Oh Tom, last time I saw you, you were like you are
now; unable to remember anything and trembling like a leaf. Is your memory
failing ?”
 
Tom didn’t reply.
“However, my sweet Sandra, you have shown yourself to be the strongest of the
three of you. I wasn’t surprised, though. Tom was, and from what I can see, he still
is, very childish and Danny, well, my little Danny was a disappointment... But, poor
boy, he didn’t know what he was saying. It was a good show. You see him, he hasn’t
change so much...”
 
“How did you find us?” – Sandra asked.
“Reading newspapers, dear. In prison, if you get anything anything, it’s time. I saw
your name by chance and so I began to check all the newspapers I could find. I
found Tom, eh Tom, beautiful prize your co-workers gave you... but weren’t you a
cook?”
 
“And Danny, how did you find him?” – Tom asked.
“By chance as well. Two years ago, the state prison I was in was closed and I was
sent to Rickers. I met a guy called Rafael Alvarez and, you know what? He’s Danny’s
brother. So I knew about his new identity... his brother is a bigmouth”.
 
“What are you doing with us?” – Tom asked again.
“Sandra knows the answer, don’t you, little girl?”
 
Sandra felt the blood leaving her face as Tom looked at her with a question in his
eyes.

“Come on, tell him!”- Federico yelled.

Before she could reply they heard the sound of sirens and became aware of
searchlights pointing up into the sky. Fede took out some night time binoculars
and started to look out of the window for something, that finally he found. It would
be easier than they had expected. Then they heard a voice calling his name through
a megaphone.
“Federico Guzmán, we know you are in the building. You are surrounded, there is
no way out. Don’t make things worse fr yourself. Release your hostages and give
yourself up”
 
“Sure”- Fede laughed. “They don’t have anything original to say. Damn it!. Ok,... wait
a moment, I’m going to get your friend”.He left the room wearing the vest he had
collected from his apartment.
He entered the elevator, descended to the ground floor and then casually left the
building.
 
Walking purposefully, he headed towards his destiny.
 
Danny watched and listened to all that was going on. He knew that Fede wouldn’t
give himself up. He had known him well in the past, they had been good friends
and had shared a lot…..although Danny couldn’t believe that he had been his friend
now, after all of this. He frowned as watched his co-workers talking and staring at
the building; he had hoped they would never find out about his life during those
years. He couldn’t believe that the wall he had built so carefully, was being
destroyed by this case. Danny was terrified of the opinion they would all have of
him and of his behaviour. He had built such a strong that wall that it was like
nothing had happened; that Daniel Alvarez didn’t exist and the only link with his
past was his brother and the promise he’d made to help her and Nicky while Rafie
was in prison.
 
From the radio he could hear the conversation between the agents. They hadn’t
found anyone in room 414 and now they were searching the rest of the building.
Danny heard a sound at his right and saw an agent knocking on the window; in the
darkness he couldn’t make out the man’s features. Danny opened the window.
“What’s going on?” – he asked.
 
“Agent Taylor? Your boss told me he wants to talk to you” – the other agent said,
pointing at the group in front of them where Jack was with his co-workers.
Danny got out the car. He was glad that Jack was finally letting him take part in the
operation. He turned toward Jack only to feel the pressure of a gun against his side.
 
“Changing plans... little Danny” – Guzman laughed as he pulled out Danny’s gun.
Danny looked at him with a confused and scared expression. “Come on” – he said
as he prodded Danny with the gun to make him start walking.
 
“Where are we going?” – Danny asked.
 
“Did you think that I would give you the correct address? I’m not that stupid,
Danny...Taylor. Come on, walk!” – he urged.
 
They crossed the street and headed for the other building. As they entered Danny
found his cell phone in his pocket, and with his fingers searched for the call button.
He remembered what his last call had done to Jack and hoped that if he left the line
open that maybe Jack would hear something that would help. He just hoped Jack
wouldn’t start to yell so that Guzman realised what he had done.
Guzmán pushed him into the elevator and pressed number 4. “Do you think that
because we are in front of that building, they won’t find you, Fede? They will comb
the area, especially when my boss realizes I’m not in the car”.
 
“Shut up!” – Guzmán said, pressing the gun hard against his side.
 
“This building is occupied, Fede. You’re putting innocent people in danger and you
won’t get out of here alive”.
“I told you to shut up!” – Fede yelled at him, hitting his face hard with the back of
the gun.
 
Danny fell down, stunned. Guzmán took the opportunity to tie Danny’s hands
behind his back with his handcuffs. When the elevator doors opened Fede gripped
his arm tightly and pushed him out.
 
“Come on, stand up”
 
“Well” – Danny said again – “I see that part of the address was correct. Floor four,
room 414”.
Guzmán grabbed Danny’s suit and pushed him against the wall. “Are you deaf or
what, boy? I told you to shut up!”- Fede pulled out a key and opened the door of the
apartment. “Go in” – he said, and pushed Danny in the room. The movement made
the cell fall to the ground. Guzmán picked it up and saw that it was connected. He
threw it out of the window, knowing what had happened.
 
“You think you’re very smart, don’t you? Don’t think I’m going to stop my plan. You
were the only one I was waiting for to finish this”.
His rage started to scare Danny to hell. At that moment he realized they weren’t
alone in the room. To his right he could see Tom; in front of him, beside the door,
Sandra looked at him, terror showing on her face. Danny closed his eyes as Guzmán
started to kicked him. He curled himself into a tight ball to try to protect his body
and his face from the kicks, but his ribcage, his liver, back and head got a beating.
Semi-conscious in the middle of the room, he saw Guzmán open a bottle of whiskey
and pour it on him. The smell of the alcohol made him sick and he threw up. Sandra
sobbed in desperation and Tom yelled at Guzmán to stop the beating. But Guzmán
was out of control and he continued beating Danny’s body who was getting weaker
and weaker with every hit.
 
When finally Danny stopped moving, Guzmán took the syringe and tied an elastic
band on Tom’s arm.
“I would like to chat with all of you for a while, but I see now it won’t be possible,
guys. You took away precious years of my life and now you’ll pay for it” – he said,
injecting the drug into Tom’s arm.
Tom started to sob. “Calm down boy, you’ll soon start to know what it felt like...
sorry it will only be for a short time”.
 
Then, he glanced at Sandra... “I told you that you would be the last one to die”- he
said as he approached her.
Sandra felt the pressure of the elastic around her arm and paled. Then, she saw
Danny, who she had thought was dead, turn around and catch Guzmán’s legs with
his, throwing him off balance. It was stupid; Danny knew he couldn’t win, but he
could try to get enough time for SWAT team to reach them and save Sandra.
Guzmán was thrown off balance and lost the needle. Furiously he pulled out his
gun and turned to Danny, shoting him. Danny couldn’t do anything to avoid it, he
didn’t enough strength to fight, and he gave in. He closed his eyes and smiled
slightly as he heard he sounds of the agents battering down the door. He had done
his work; maybe they could still save Tom and Sandra.

Chapter 5
 
Jack was in front of the building watching as the SWAT team cleared the building
and took up positions outside the room where they expected Guzmán to be. Beside
him, Martin and Sam waited for the signal to enter.
 
“How is he doing?” – Sam asked Jack.
“Not very well, nobody likes to be left out, especially him, but I’m not sure if he can
control his temper, Sam”.
 
“He’s a bit nervous, I know, but he’s doing well, considering the circumstances” –
Sam said.
“Do you think I should let him stay here?”
 
“I think so; you’ve let him come here. Come on Jack, Danny isn’t worried about the
situation, he’s worried about what we think of him, what we know about his
private life. He reacted badly when he saw us talking in the office. But he has done
his best in helping with the case and he hasn’t done anything wrong. I don’t think
he feels too involved in the case”.
“You surprise me, Sam” – Jack muttered as he looked back at where he had left
Danny. He frowned when he couldn’t see his co-worker in the car. Before he could
react his cell started to vibrate. He connected still looking at the car. Sam looked in
the same direction when she noticed Jack’s worried expression, with the cell
pressed on his ear.
 
At first he couldn’t hear anything except a lot of background noise, so he looked the
screen to identify the call. “Danny?, Danny! What’s going on?”
Jack couldn’t hear anything so he put his finger in his other ear and headed over to
a quieter place. He soon realized what was happening.
 
He walked quickly to talk to the officer in charge.
“They aren’t in this building, I think they are in that other building” – he said
pointing in that direction as he continued to listen to the conversation.
“Wait, yes, I think he said the fourth floor, I can’t hear very well” – Jack put his hand
over the mouthpiece on the cell so that he couldn’t be heard at the other end of the
line. He guessed that Danny had deliberately pushed the call button. It had to be in
his jacket because the sound wasn’t clear, but he could understand some parts of
the conversation.
 
Suddenly, the call was cut off.
 
The SWAT officer in charge had given instructions to his team and they started to
enter the other building, but the search was more difficult because this one was
occupied. This time, Jack, Sam and Martin joined the SWAT team, going up to the
fourth floor where Jack heard Danny say they were.
They were close to one of the doors when they heard yells and suddenly a shot.
Quickly, SWAT agents took position in front of the room, and then broke the door
down and entered the room.
 
Fede Guzmán turned towards the door ready to shoot but he was knocked down.
The agents entered the room and cleared it, checking that nobody else was in the
room except the hostages. Then they called for the paramedics.
Sandra was in shock unable to say a single word or feel anything. She was vaguely
aware of being untied and carried out of the building and that one of the medics
had examined her wrists beside an ambulance. Everything had happened so
quickly that her mind wasn’t able to assimilate it. Her memory returned to the
moment she had left the hotel to go to Lucy Dovier’s bookshop. The peace that
picture brought to her mind made her to react to the recent events and she started
to sob quietly.
 
She was still there, with an FBI agent called Sam trying to calm her down, when she
saw paramedics leave the building with a stretcher that they placed in the
ambulance. After they closed the doors, the ambulance was driven quickly away.
She recognised Tom’s clothes and she began to pray that the doctors could save
him.
 
Tom, Danny, Fede... three men, three young men who she had twice shared the
death of someone with... Tom, the boy she loved when they lived in the group
home... It was impossible not to fall in love with him; he was so different from the
rest of the kids. Her roommate Paula and her other friend, Theresa, told her that
she was crazy. Tom wasn’t handsome; he was naive and quite clumsy. Theresa said
that Danny and Fede were always teasing him but in spite of this Tom had an
almost obsessed interest in Danny. Paula even went so far as to slip in that Tom
was in love with Danny. That comment enraged Theresa who, even though she
never admitted it to anyone, was in love with young Alvarez. Danny and Fede were
a diabolic couple. Sandra had always thought Fede was too dangerous for Danny.
Danny wasn’t a bad person, he was boastful, stubborn and hot-head, but it was the
alcohol that made him lose himself. He would go to any lengths to get a drink of
any liquor or whiskey, he didn’t care which, as long as he lost consciousness for a
while. So, he was caught during a couple of fights on the street, trying to escape
from a group home, or running in front of the police, and the last one was when
they were caught trying to steal liquor from Mario Neville’s store. They were really
stupid. Mario Neville knew about them and when he saw the kids in the store, he
didn’t take his eye off them. Danny and Fede, or Fede and Danny; you never knew
who was the leader. Neville didn’t call the police but Mrs. Oldberg locked them up
in their room for three days as a punishment. She spoke to Peter Lloyd, the social
worker she usually talked to, and she told him her worries about Danny...
Something about Danny roused her compassion, but he hated any hint of affection
that suggested sympathy. Danny was always trying to be strong; stubbornly
building a prottective wall around his broken heart.
 
Now, everything was dark and confused, a nightmare that Sandra would like to
wake up from in her bed, in London, listening to Julie singing as she prepared the
breakfast.
 
Martin entered just behind Jack. Sam was behind Martin and noticed him pointing
to the right where Sandra was. Trying to stay calm as Jack took care of the person
under Guzmán’s body that one of the SWAT’s agents had moved away, Martin
approached Tom Pullman who remained unconcious with the needle still in his
arm. Martin looked for a pulse and found it. The paramedics started attending to
him as Martin untied his arms and feet. He glanced over to see Jack with Danny and
the other doctor. He couldn’t see Danny but the movements of the doctor on his
coworker told him that they were trying to revive him. He felt his control go for a
second, as the tears welled up in his eyes. He remembered the stupid confrontation
with Danny some hours before. After that, they had barely talked to each other and
now Danny could die and he wouldn’t be able to tell him that he was sorry about it.
He had to move away as Tom Pullman was put on the stretcher and the paramedics
took him out. Martin left with them; he had to be with the man they had been
looking for over the last few hours, but it was the last thing he wanted to do.
Sometimes he hated his work. He glanced, pleadingly, at Jack, who with a sad
expression on his face told him to leave.
 
Martin left Tom in the ambulance, then, before heading for his car, he approached
Sam. She was still with Sandra Fischer who was about to be driven to the hospital
for a general check.
 
“How’s Danny?” – Sam asked.
“I don’t know, I have to be with Pullman, but he’s not looking good. I think the
doctor was trying to revive him...” – Martin explained, the fear evident in his voice.
Sam could see the guilt in Martin’s eyes. “Hey, Martin, he’s going to be okay... it’s
Danny, he will be okay and you’ll be able to talk and sort things out”.
 
“I don’t know Sam... I think I acted like a cretin...”
 
“It wasn’t your fault, Danny was very nervous, he misunderstood a situation and
you know he doesn’t like to talk about his private life...”
 
“I thought.. I thought he trusted us, Sam”.
“He does, Martin” – she said, smiling softly. “Right now, the only thing important
here is that he is going to be okay, right?. Now you have to go to the hospital”.
 
“Yeah, sure, you’re right” – Martin said. “Thanks, Sam”- Martin managed a slight
smile and headed for his car. He started it and drove to the hospital. Sam’s words
comforted him for a moment, but he couldn’t shift the picture of the paramedic
bent over his coworker, trying to revive him. In the privacy of his car and the
darkness, he let the emotions of the day take him and sobbed the whole way to the
hospital.
 
Sam watched as Martin drove away and then she focused on Sandra Fischer. She
was now calmer. Her pale face and lost look contrasted with the picture that Sam
had been looking at on the whiteboard for most of the day.
When the ambulance left Sam stayed alone in the darkness and the cold. She had
been strong in front of Martin trying to comfort him, but now all she could think
about was her coworker. She saw the ambulance waiting and she realized that Jack
and Danny were still in the building. She stared at the entrance not daring to go
back in, but wanting to know how Danny was doing.
 
She stayed for a while until she saw two paramedics heading out of the building,
carrying a strechter. Her heart stopped when she saw a black body bag. The
paramedics headed for the Medical Examiners car and placed the body bag inside
it; then the car drove away.
The paramedics went back into the building, leaving Sam waiting for Jack and
Danny, as the CSI’s did their work. Sam was terrified and she was unable to think
about anything. She pulled her coat and her scarf tightly about her. Her cell started
to vibrate. It was Vivian.
 
“Hey Viv” – she said in a low voice.
“Sam, I’m with Mrs. Pullman in the office. I’m going with her to the Hospital. Martin
has just called me… “What do you know about Danny?”
 
“I don´t… I don’t know Viv. He’s still in the building… I haven’t seen him yet… I’m
not…. I can´t go in… I’m so sorry” – she replied as a lone tear rolled down her face.
 
“Hey Sam, calm down, he’s going to be okay, you know. Hey, come on. Go to the
Hospital. Martin is there and also Ms. Fischer” – Vivian said. She didn’t know what
Danny’s condition was, but Martin had said it was bad. But to stay out, in the cold
night, wasn’t good. Vivian decided to issue an order to Sam. “Sam, you have to go to
the Hospital and take Sandra Fischer’s statement. It’s very important she tells you
everything she can remember, if she is in a fit condition to do so”.
“What?” – Sam asked tiredly.
 
“Sam…”
 
“Right, Viv. I’m sorry. I’ll do it right now. We’ll meet there”. Sam said.
Maybe it was for the best. She was turning round to head for her car when she saw
Jack leaving the building. He wasn’t wearing his jacket and his shirt was covered in
blood. His face was sweaty and his eyes were tired and she could see that he had
been crying. Sam froze when she saw him, but Jack softly smiled at her and she
knew that Danny was alive. Behind Jack two paramedics carried out a stretcher
with Danny on it. Sam put her hands to her face when she saw one of the
paramedics was pressing constantly on an oxygen bag placed on his face whilst the
other injected something into Danny’s arm. They headed for the ambulance and
then left quickly.
 
Completely alone, Sam finally reacted. She ran to her car and started the engine
with a trembling hand.

St. Lukes Hospital
 
December, 1. 04.00 am
 
Jack leant against the wall in the waiting room, with his eyes closed. The wait was
the worst. He was exhausted but unable to sit down, feeling as if it was
disrespectful while one of his agents was fighting for his life. He recalled the fear he
had felt when he had looked at his car and couldn’t see Danny; remembering it
over and over again until they had reached the hospital in the ambulance.
 
 
Flashback
 
 
Guided by the conversation he was hearing from Danny’s cell, Jack joined the SWAT
team and entered the building. Sam and Martin were with him. Paying attention to
any strange noises they went to the fourth floor, where they hoped they would find
Federico Guzmán, Tom Pullman, Sandra Fischer and hopefully, Danny. They crept
through the long corridor trying not to make any noise or to be confused by the
sound from the TV’s.
 
Suddenly, three doors in front of them, they could hear someone yelling and one shot.
Jack tried to stay calm as the SWAT agents entered the apartment. He heard another
shot and one of the agents gestured to them to enter.
The scene was heartbreaking. Jack barely looked at Tom Pullman at the back of the
room, he didn’t know if he was alive. Sandra Fischer was near to the door, totally
shocked, but Jack had only eyes for the body laid on the floor. One of the agents
moved Guzmán’s dead body, and Jack approched the other body, that had been under
Guzmán’s.
He barely recognized him. His face was bloodstained and his white shirt was soaked
in blood. Jack remembered the shot. He bent down beside Danny and felt for a pulse;
it was so weak that he could barely feel it. He sat down beside him and held his hand
as the paramedic tried to save him. The other paramedic put in an IV line, meanwhile
the doctor unbuttoned his shirt to examine him and saw the contusions on Danny’s
body, especially on the ribcage and liver. “It seems he has a couple of broken ribs... a
bullet wound... doesn’t seem to be affecting any vital organs... damn it! We’re losing
him” – he said as he pressed down on his chest as he tried to resuscitate him. Jack
held Danny’s hand, staring at him as he waited for Danny to open his eyes... but he
didn’t. Danny’s heart started again and the doctor continued his work. They were the
only people in the room, a strange quiet broken only by the doctor working on Danny.
They remained there for forty five minutes trying to stabilise him. Finally, the doctor
ordered that he be placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.
On his way to the Hospital, the doctors continued to work on him until Jack saw them
disappear into an operating theatre.
 
End of flashback
 
 
Jack felt that it had been his fault. He knew that if he had left Danny in the office
like his instict had told him to, he wouldn’t be fighting for his life right now. When
Danny told him about Tom Pullman and Federico Guzmán, he should have
removed him from the investigation. It was his fault. What happened to Danny
could have been avoided.
 
Jack felt a hand on his arm and opened his eyes to see a worried Vivian.
“Viv... what are you doing here?” – he asked.
 
She smiled in reply. It was so obvious what she was doing there. Sam and Martin
were also in the waiting room, but Jack had barely noticed them. All four of them,
tired and worried, stayed at the hospital waiting for news about their friend.
 
“It will be better if we sit down, Jack”- Vivian said gently, pointing to the waiting
room. “The Doctors will call us when they can tell us something about Danny”.
“I let him come. It was my fault” – Jack muttered.
 
“You didn’t know what was going to happen, Jack. You told him to stay in the car
and he...”
 
“No, I know him; I knew that he might leave the car. I had to see that, but... how did
he know that they didn’t stay in that building? How did he find Guzmán?” – Jack
commented as he walked with Viv to the waiting room where Martin and Sam
were sat.
 
Jen Pullman, Tom’s wife, was there as well, in another room, , waiting for news
about her husband. Jack noticed her and walked up to her.
 
“Mrs. Pullman” – he greeted.
“Agent Malone... I feel so sorry for your agent... I hope... I sincerely hope he
recovers soon” – she said.
 
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Pullman, it’s our work, things like this sometimes happen” –
Jack said. “At least we’ve found your husband in time”.
 
“Yes, eh... I think there was other person with him... a woman. Agent Johnson
explained to me the connection between my husband and those people. I can’t

believe it, but this explains Tom’s silence about his past” – she paused – “Your
agent was involved in this, wasn’t he?”
‘Involved’ Jack thought. The expression sounded almost delictive, but he knew
what Mrs. Pullman meant. “Yes, your husband, the woman and my agent share a
common past with the guy who took them hostage. Thanks to Danny and Tom’s
notebooks, beside the note your husband received, we knew what was happening
right away”.
 
“Danny” – she muttered – “you know what? When Tom and I were dating, he
always said that if we had children he wanted one of them to be called Daniel. And
one of our sons is called Daniel. I never knew why Tom was so stubborn about
that... I suppose that your agent and Tom were good friends”.
Jack hadn’t heard that story before and he felt touched by it. Knowing about
Danny’s youth he was surprised that he was being used as an example. He
remembered the names of Tom’s sons and smiled; Tom and Daniel.
 
“Yes, I suppose so. I hope your husband is going to be okay, Mrs. Pullman. Have the
Doctors have told you anything?”
“Well, Tom was injected with an overdose of heroin, but it seems you found him in
time. He’ll stay here for three or four days until he feels better” – she told him.
 
“Good, I’m glad to hear it. We’ll have to talk to him about this, not only him but also
Ms. Fischer as well, but we’ll do it when he feels better. Right now, the most
important thing is his recovery”.
“I understand, thank you Agent Malone” – she said with a smile.
“You’re welcome” – he said.
 
Jack felt better after this conversation; it helped him to release some of the tension.
He sat down beside his coworkers in the waiting room. Time passed slowly and
every time the door opened, they waited for a doctor to call them, but it never
happened.
 
At daybreak it was raining. It was 07.00 am on a cold December 1st. Sandra Fischer
had left the Hospital a couple of hours earlier, once the doctors had told her she
was okay. Her boss in New York went to the hospital to pick up her and then took
her home, with the promise that they would go to the FBI’s office later, once she
had changed her clothes and rested for a while on a comfortable bed.
Jack was the only one who stayed at the hospital the whole time. Finally, a doctor
approached him.
 
“Are you here for Daniel Taylor?”
“Yes, I’m Jack Malone, I’m his boss” – Jack said.
 
“I see, eh, yes you’re his emergency contact. Well, I’m not going to lie to you, Mr.
Malone. Your agent has been badly hurt; we have had to resuscitate him several
times; he has two broken ribs and contusions over all his body... he received a
severe beating. The bullet wound, however, isn’t too worrying. We extracted the
bullet and, except for the blood he lost, it hasn’t affected any vital organ. But his
liver and kidneys aren’t working well and that’s what is worrying me. There is still
swelling because of the beating and we must wait for some hours to see how this
develops”.
“Can I see him?” – Jack asked.
 
“No, he’s being taken to the ICU, he’s heavily sedated and has a breathing tube
inserted to help him. The first 24 hours are very important and I can’t allow visits
until this has passed; after that, I’ll allow it depending on his condition” – the
doctor said, continuing as he noticed the worried expression on Jack’s face. “But,
we’re optimistic; your agent is young, strong and a fighter”.
“Well, thanks doctor” – Jack said.
 
“I advise you to go home and rest. Nothing will happen in the next hours. I will call
you immediately if there is a change, but I don’t expect anything new for some
hours” – the doctor said.
 
 
FBI’s Offices
December, 1. 11.00 am
 
“Thanks for calling, Jack. I’ll tell them” – Martin hung up the phone and turned to
face Vivian and Sam. “It was Jack, Danny is out of surgery and he is in ICU, the next
24 hours are crucial, but the doctors are optimistic about his prognosis”.
 
“Good” – Vivian said softly, looking at Danny’s empty desk.
 
“Agent Johnson”- an agent interrupted them – “You told me to call you when Ms.
Fisher was here. She’s in the lobby”.
“Oh, right, bring her here, I’ll talk to her” – Vivian said – “Do you want to come with
me, Sam?”
“Sure, Viv. I need to be busy” – Sam replied in relief.
 
None of them had got any sleep and all they’d had time to do was to head home
from the hospital to change their clothes, take a shower and then head to the office
again to start the paperwork and wait for news from the Hospital.
Now, it was time to hear what Sandra Fischer and Tom Pullman had to tell them.
 
 
Chapter 6
 
Sandra Fischer’s and Tom Pullman’s attitudes were a surprise for all the team in
different ways.
 
Sandra went to the FBI’s office with her boss, who had stayed with her all the time.
Sandra told them a very complete statement full of details and information, going
directly to the questions. She kept away all the emotional stuff except when it was
necessary for her explanation.
 
Sandra woke up a few hours later in her boss’s apartment. She had spent the most
part of the night in the hospital and she was still tired and confused but unable to
sleep anymore. She had to remember everything to tell the FBI’s agents and then,
forget it. It was the thing she wanted most, to forget. She never missed so much her
apartment in London and her life, before. What had happened had been a painful
meeting with the past, a past full of bitter memories, flashes from her childhood,
her parents, her life in group homes, the barely-there memory of her little
brothers, Mrs. Oldberg, her friends Theresa and Paula, her love for Tom, Danny and
Fede, Danny and Tom... the murder, the trial, Danny’s picture destroying his life in
a second... an FBI agent, she never would have expected he would go so far. Surely
he had hit rock bottom, but somehow he managed to find the right way. Danny was
a smart boy and he knew how to get affection from the others... until he failed. Fede
Guzman’s influence and alcohol were his main problem and he was able to get
away from Fede when Tom entered in the group home. Tom wasn’t as smart as
Danny but he had received a good education from his parents, he had roots and

objectives, and he didn’t have a broken heart, as Theresa used to say poetically. He
had obtained protection from Danny and, in return, Danny started to trust himself
and other people, letting the others know the person he actually was. It was three
weeks before Mrs. Oldber murder, when Sandra had the chance to know a Danny
Alvarez she never had thought before, in spite of she had shared her life with him
for about two years in the group home.
 
 
Flashback
 
It happened in February. All the kids from the group home were going to the same
school. Sandra shared classroom with Fede and Paula, but Fede usually skipped
classes. Theresa was in the same classroom with Danny and Tom and the little kids
were in the lowest levels. Danny skipped some classes but his grades were acceptable.
However, Tom studied hard to get the scholarship he always talked about.
During the last weeks the weather had been unpleasant, and Sandra had gotten a
cold, but she had an exam and woke up early to go over the subject before the test.
Once she did the exam, she felt a bit sick and sat down on the stairs at the entrance of
the school, from where she saw the rest of students leaving to go home. As she was
taking a pill the teacher had given her for her cold, she saw one schoolmate headed
to her mum’s car. Her mum and a little boy got out of the car and the boy threw
himself into her arms. Meanwhile, her mother had taken the scientific essay she had
done in the school and laid it carefully in the car. Then she said something to her
daughter and kissed her on the forehead before getting into the car and driving
away. Sandra wasn’t a sentimental person, she had dealt with her situation and the
separation from her brothers with strenght and she was pleased with the opportunity
she was offered by Social Services. But that day, she didn’t know why, surely because
of the cold, that scene touched her heart immensely and she felt terribly alone,
something she hadn’t felt for a long time. She didn’t feel the tears reaching her eyes
and starting to roll down her cheeks as the car drove away.
 
A moment later, Danny Alvarez, who had sat down beside her, put his arm around
her and gently brought closer to him. Sandra didn’t resist the gesture and she ended
up openly crying on his chest.
 
Around them, everything and everybody vanished and it had a reciprocity. Nobody
noticed them and they stayed there for a while, until Tom Jennings approached to
them.
 
“Hey, come on. You know Mrs. Oldberg doesn’t like it when we’re late”.
“Forget it, Tom” – Danny said not moving.
 
“What’s up?... come on, Sandra. Let’s go at home, Mrs. Oldberg will get angry, she is
going to think that you are with Danny and she’ll ask me, for sure”. It wasn’t a secret
that Sandra wanted Tom and, sharing the room with Danny, Tom knew Mrs. Oldberg
would ask him about the girl.
 
“What does that matter?” – Danny asked getting angry. “clear off, Tom!. We’ll go
back later... and if Mrs. Oldberg ask you, tell her what you are watching, right?”
Tome grimaced. “Whatever you want... but I won’t get into trouble because of you”.
Tom started to walk away when Danny asked, “Is that why you’re worried, Tom?
Don’t you want to know what is happening to Sandra?”
 
“I just say what is going to happen, Danny” – Tom shrugged his shoulders and walked
away.
 
“Do you want to come back home?” – Danny softly asked Sandra.
 
“No, not yet, later” – she said, still her head on his chest.
 
“What’s wrong, Sandra?” – he asked.
 
“I don’t know, Danny. It’s a silly thing... that girl ... I don’t know, the way his brother
greeted her, her mum...” – Sandra started.
“Yeah, I know, it isn’t a silly thing Sandra, it happens sometimes. I suppose it happens
to all of us”- he said.
 
“Yes, you know what? I wonder if my brothers are happy. Sometimes I think that next
year I’ll turn to 18. Maybe I’ll find a good job and ask for their custody, but, I don’t
feel ready for that, actually, I don’t feel ready for anything. I don’t know how is the
kind of a family, Danny” – Sandra had stopped crying and stared directly into his
eyes.
 
“I can’t help you, Sandra. I don’t know, either. But I think that it’s hard enough for us
to go on the right way, I mean, I don’t think it’s a good idea to ask for the custody of
your brothers. My brother, Rafie, tried to do something similar with me but he
couldn’t deal with the responsability and at the end... it was worse”.
“What do you mean?”
 
“I mean that, right now, I don’t want to know anything about him. I don’t hate him,
it’s like... I feel like he doesn’t want to let me to live freely, to express my feelings,
doing what I want to do...”
“It sounds similar to Fede Guzmán” – Sandra said.
 
Danny frowned. He never thought about Fede that way. “Maybe” – he said –“Well, it’s
getting late, we should come back or we’ll get a deserved reprimand from Mrs.
Oldberg. Tom was right about that”.
“Yes” – she said standing up. “Don’t argue with him, Danny. Tom is a good boy, it’s
just that he’s trying to keep his routine”
 
“I’m not going to argue with him, but sometimes he doesn’t understand how things
work and...”
 
“He understands you pretty well”
“Yes, sometimes” – he said.
 
Tom had talked to Mrs. Oldberg and she was furious when Danny and Sandra came
back, but when she noticed the sadness in Sandra, she kept her annoyance inside to
explode only on Danny.
 
Next morning, Theresa told Sandra that Danny had been talking to Mrs. Oldberg
about what had happened at school and Mrs. Oldberg patted Danny’s back; to Danny,
that meant a lot.
 
Since that day, Sandra changed her love for Tom and found the good heart Danny hid
behind his usual behaviour. She was determined to know him better, but she hadn’t
time enough before the sad events happened, the events that separated them
definitely.
 
End of flashback
 
 
Angela, Sandra’s boss, pulled her from her thoughts.
 
“Hey, do you want me to go with you to the FBI’s office? – she asked, opening the
door and poking her head round it.
“Well,... I don’t know, I think so, but I don’t know if they will let you to enter. You
will have to wait for me for hours”.
 
“What are you going to tell them?” – she asked in surprise.
“I don’t know what are they going to ask me, Angela. I’m worried,... I want to do it
correctly”.
 
“You’ll be fine, honey. Don’t worry, you only have to concentrate about what
happened and tell them. They will ask you and you will remember. You only have
to tell what you saw, what happened”.
“Yes, I know, I’ll try” – Sandra said, sighing. She stood up and picked up her bag.
 
“Let’s go”.
Sandra was in a cold interview room in the FBI’s office. Agents Samantha Spade
and Vivian Johnson had just got in the room and sat down in front of her. In spite of
the smile in their faces, Sandra felt her mouth go dry.
 
“Ms. Fischer, thanks for coming so quickly. We know you must be tired after the
events of the last night and we really appreciate your effort”. – Vivian started.
 
“Thanks”- Sandra said. “I would like to finish with this as soon as possible”.
 
“I understand” – Sam said. “Ms. Fischer, according our information, you received in
the morning of november, 29 this note” – Sam showed her the note Guzmán sent to
her and Sandra nodded.
“Could you tell me what happened since that moment?” – Sam asked her.
Sandra told them what she had done that day, and how she understood when she
recognized the taxi driver as Guzmán, that he had been keeping watch for her, even
though she didn’t notice anything.
 
“I know that you live in London. How many times do you visit New York?”
 
“Two or three times a year. This time, we’ve working on a modern art exhibition,
and I had planned to spend about three weeks here”.
“Staying in New York, is your routine the same, I mean, you stay in the same hotel,
visit the same places...” – Vivian asked.
 
“Yes, well, I come here just for work and I spend the most of the time in the gallery
or with coworkers. Usually I go, at least, one day to a little bookshop... I was going
to that place when the receptionist gave me the note. The hotel is near work, and
it’s comfortable so I didn’t feel the need for a change”.
 
“You legally changed your name after an event Mr. Guzmán, Tom Pullman and
yourself were involved in...”
“Yes, and Danny Alvarez, too”.
 
“Later you left the States to live in London. Did Guzmán tell you how he found
you?”
 
“Yes, he found us in the newspaper”- Sandra said with a grimace. “He saw a picture
of mine with my name and he spent days looking at newspapers until he found
Tom. You have to understand it, I never felt the threat. It was just a change of name
and address and we never kept contact anymore... until now.”
 
“You said Guzmán found you and Tom reading papers but did he tell you how he
found agent Taylor?” – Vivian asked.
“Who?” – Sandra asked.
 
“Danny. How he found him?”
 
“Eh, I don’t know, I... oh, yes, he told us about his brother. He has a brother in
prison and he told him something. Guzmán told us that Danny’s brother is a
bigmouth”.
“Did Guzmán tell you what he wanted from you? Did he want money, or something
else?”
 
“I don’t know, the truth is he didn’t allow us to speak. He was waiting for Danny.
When he understood Danny wouldn’t come, he went to pick him up. He told us that
he wanted to talk to us, to the three of us”.
Sam frowned. Danny hadn’t received any note until 8pm. How was Guzmán waiting
for him?
 
“Uhm... right” – Vivian finished taking notes. After reading again all the
information, she looked at Sandra. “Well, Ms. Fischer, I think that your statement is
complete. If you remember something else, you won’t hesitate to talk to us, right?”
 
“Sure. Eh, I wanted to say something. I’m sure that your coworker saved my life
and Tom’s life. He risked his life but if he hadn’t done it, I’m sure we would be dead
right now. I wanted you to know that. I hope... I hope he gets over this soon”
Vivian and Sam looked at her and smiled. “Thanks, we’ll tell him” – Vivian, said.
Sandra left the room and headed for the place where Angela was waiting for her.
Sam and Vivian looked at her as she entered the elevator.
 
“It’s strange” – Sam muttered. “It’s as if... did you notice that she talked about
Danny like our coworker, not connecting him to her?”
“Yes” – Vivian replied. “She hasn’t asked for Tom, either. It should be the logical
response”
 
“I think she wants to forget this matter as soon as possible. It’s ... it’s what Danny
usually does, don’t it?” – Sam commented.
Vivian smiled but she didn’t say any word.
 
In the afternoon of December, 1st, Jack and Martin went to the Hospital to
interview Tom Pullman. He told them what had happened from his point of view
and answered their questions. Some time ago, Tom had told his wife a lot of things
she didn’t know about his past, and strange thoughts were coming back to him, as
he noticed her confused expression.
 
“Do you think that there could have been an economic reason behind this?” –
Martin asked.
 
“I don’t know, maybe”- Tom said.
“Did you notice that Guzmán was keeping watch for you?” – Martin asked again.
 
“No, I never noticed anything, but after what happened... I received the note in my
office, and he approached me in the Café where I usually go to have lunch...
obviously he was keeping watch on me”.
“Guzmán stayed in prison until last year, more or less, and he isn’t from New York.
It’s possible he has a accomplice. Did he tell you something about that, did you hear
any other name?” – Jack asked.
 
“Maybe” – he said thougthful- “I’m not sure, but...”- he hesitated.
 
“Is there something you want to tell me?”- Jack insisted.
“Well. There is something I don’t understand well. Danny is a FBI agent and Fede
knew that. I can’t believe Fede is stupid enough to call Danny except they were
together in this and something went wrong”.
 
“What exactly are you trying to say?” – Martin exclamed. Jack made a sign for him
to stay quiet.
 
“Listen, Fede Guzmán and Danny Alvarez were always together, they got into a lot
of trouble and some minor offences. Danny could find easily our identity and know
our life routine, working in missing persons”.
 
“Wait a moment” – Martin cut off him. “That’s just speculation. You’re talking about
a FBI agent, he isn’t a delinquent”.
“Maybe he is, yes, but you didn’t know them, then” – Tom said.
 
“But, why do you think they are together in this?”- Jack asked.
 
“Well, Fede was nervous all the time, just waiting for Danny to join us. I mean, he
didn’t catch him, he was waiting for him. I don’t know what was wrong, maybe
Danny regretted it or something because Guzmán had to go out to pick up him.
Something happened between them because when they came back to the
apartment they were arguing”.
 
“But we found agent Taylor handcuffed and in very bad condition”- Martin said.
‘What was Tom insinuating?’
 
“I don’t remember that he was handcuffed, I just know that they were arguing and
then Fede got furious because of something about a cell. Then he started to hit
Danny until he stopped moving. Then, he injected me with the drug. The last thing
I remember is he was going to do the same with Sandra”.
 
“I see” – Jack said.
“There’s something else” – Tom continued feeling sure about what he was saying –
“I think that Fede was trying to kill Sandra and me with an overdose. Before he left
us to pick up Danny, he had been preparing the drug and there were only two
needles, so I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about killing Danny”.
 
“Well” – Jack said working to hide under his proffesional expression the anger he
felt. “We’ve got what we need, for the moment Mr. Pullman. If you remember
something else, call me, please. Eh, one last comment. Yesterday, I was talking to
your wife and she told me that probably agent Taylor and you had been close
friends... one of your sons is called Daniel because of him”.
 
“No, I don’t think so. We were roomates and during the nights, Danny suffered with
nightmares. I just tried to help him, he made me feel sympathy, but... he didn’t want
to talk about that, then it was the alcohol and Fede’s influence. Danny was
stubborn and he could be smart, but he needed discipline or everthing turned to
chaos. My son isn’t called Daniel because of Danny. During the time I spent in
groups homes, I used to talk with a social worker. Later, when I was studying in the
University I kept in contact with him and he helped me a lot. His name is Daniel
Stewart, so I wanted one of my sons named after him”.
“Oh, gosh”- Jack said, glanced at Jen Pullman who had slightly blushed. “I’m sorry .
Well, that’s all. Thanks for your statement, I hope you get better soon and come
back home”.
“Thanks” – Tom said with a slight smile. “I hope to come back soon, as well”.
Jack and Martin left the room, and then, Martin exploded.“What the hell is that guy saying,
Jack! At least... at least he could be grateful to Danny, if it wasn’t because of him, 
probably hewould be dead. Is it that he didn’t realize it or what? And... And, why he 
didn’t ask about Sandra’s condition? What about Danny? That woman and Danny could be dead 
and he didn’t ask about them. I don’t like that guy, Jack, I don’t like him one bit”.
 
“Calm down, Martin. Mrs. Fischer signed her statement, as well. Her friendship or
whatever it was with Danny is similar to Pullman. Let’s see what we get”.
“Are you questioning Danny?”
 
“Absolutely not, I just want to make a report without doubts about him. If Tom
Pullman has concluded Danny was involved, other people could understand it the
same way”- he explained.
 
Jack was right. However, some questions started to disturb his thoughts. Why
Danny had insist to come back at home to see if there was a note? How did he
know that the building they were checking in first place wasn’t the right building?
What had happened with Tom’s notebooks that Danny didn’t give back and Jack
didn’t find, now? Only Danny could tell him what was happening and Jack begged

for the young agent to get well and clear up the doubts he was assailed with. He
wondered how he would defend Danny in an internal investigation if he had
doubts. The thought made him miserable. Danny was one of his best coworker and
he had complete trust him.
 
“I would like to talk to Danny” – Martin said. The discussion they had the day
before, had left him with a bitter memory.
 
 
 
Flashback
 
Martin and Sam were drinking some coffee as talked about the results of the Sandra
Fischer investigation, and they didn’t notice Danny approaching them with a coffee in
hand.
 
“Do you want any additional information?” – he spat.
 
“What do you mean, Danny?” – Martin asked in an angry tone.
“If you are speculating about my life, it should be better to ask me, instead of imagine
things”
 
“We aren’t speculating about you, Danny”- Sam started.
“It isn’t what it seems”- Danny started in clear beligerant attitude.
“Listen, Danny, you are the only one imagining things here. You’re not so important,
right? What if we talk about you? I would like to know exactly who the person behind
me is, backing me up.”- Martin said angrily.
 
They both were face to face, the fury evident in their eyes, and the space between
them was almost nonexistent.
“Eh, what’s happening here?” – Vivian exclaimed in authoritarian tone, as she
grabbed Danny’s arm. “I don’t want stupid discussions. There is a lot of work to do, so
come back to work”.
 
They both stayed facing each other for a moment, until Danny looked down in
disgust. “I’m sorry”- he muttered, and left the room before Martin had time to react.
“I think you have been a bit short, Martin. You know how these things affect him”-
Sam said.
"I know but I can’t stand that attitude” he said, frowing.
 
“I can’t believe you, Martin, after the years you are working together and you don’t
know his reactions” – Vivian said.
 
“I know, Viv, but just because we’ve worked together for years, he could tell us what
happened to him, it’s easy”- Martin said.
“Have you ever done it?” – Sam asked smiling.
 
End of flashback
 
 
“Me too, but I’m afraid he won’t be able to tell us anything for a couple of days”-
Jack said. “I’m going to
 the ICU to ask about him. Do you come with me?”
“Sure” – Martin replied.
 
 
December, 3
St. Lukes Hospital. 11.30 am.
 
Jack got into the room, closing the door behind him carefully. That early morning,
he had received a call from the hospital to inform him that agent Taylor was
waking up and he could go to see him. So, in that cold morning of december, he
drove to the hospital. Alone. The rest of them wanted to go but Jack wanted to talk
to Danny and he knew hospital rules wouldn’t let him more than a few minutes.
Olczyk had warned him that surely an investigation would be opened and Jack was
worried about Tom’s statement.
 
He left his jacket on a chair and taking another one, sat down close to Danny. He
was still asleep but when Jack touched his arm, Danny opened his eyes.
 
“Hey, I thought you were asleep. How do you feel?” – Jack said.
“I’ve been worse... and better. I’m tired”- Danny said. The sound of his voice was
rasping. His throat hurt. The doctors had removed the breathing tube some hours
before and his throat was still damaged.
 
Jack handed him a glass of water. “Danny, I hate to do this, you know, but I have to
ask you some things and...”
“Sure, I understand” – Danny said. “Eh, what... what happened to the others?” – he
asked.
 
Jack tried to keep back the disgust he felt with the question. Danny was the one
who had left that building in the worst condition, Guzmán didn’t care, and he was
the only one to ask for them.
“Fine, Tom Pullman spent a couple of days in the hospital but he had came back
home, and Sandra Fischer was just shocked, she had some cuts on her wrists but
she’s okay too. Otherwise... everything’s okay. Danny, I need... I need you to tell me
some things, you know, to finish the report”.
 
“Thank God. Jack I’m really sorry about what happened. I know I messed up and I
put innocent lives at risk...I... I didn’t notice until it was too late and I couldn’t do
anything else. I just... I had my cell but Fede noticed the call and he got furious
and...”
Danny was babbling and was getting very nervous. That wasn’t good. Jack tried to
calm him down.
 
“He, Danny wait a moment. It wasn’t your fault, Danny. You did okay, you called me
and gave us the exact place where the people we’re looking for stayed. We saved a
lot of time...”
“But Jack...” – Danny protested.
Jack stopped him with a hand on his arm. “It’s over Danny, don’t go that way. If you
want to look for a guilty person, I’m the first one because I didn’t have to let you to
go there. It’s over, okay?.”
 
The door was opened and a nurse, alerted by the signals on the monitor, got into
the room to check her patients vital signs.
“What happened, Mr. Taylor?” – she asked as she checked the notes.
“It’s nothing”- Danny said, closing his eyes.
 
“It would be better if you let him rest”- the nurse said to Jack, introducing a kind of
sedative in the IV. “It’s still early, we can’t force the situation”.
Gently but firmly, the nurse went out with Jack out of the room. It was too soon,
Jack knew that, but he needed urgently to clarify his doubts.
 
“When could I come back? I need to ask him some things, it’s really important... for
him, as well”. – he asked.
 
“I’ll ask the doctor, sir. Your agent is doing well but he has to stay relaxed, right?” –
The nurse said.
“Can you ask the doctor if I can come back in the afternoon?” – Jack insisted.
“Well, I’ll ask him”- she said and picked up the phone.
“How’s Danny?” – Vivian asked Jack, getting into his office.
 
“Fine, well. He’s doing better.... but I can’t talk to him. I talked to him but I couldn’t
ask him about the case”.
 
“Why?” – Vivian asked worried. She closed the door and sat down.
“I think he believes what happened was his fault... he caused Guzmán’s reaction. He
got very nervous and I tried to calm him down but I couldn’t. The doctors won’t let
me talk to him. I’ll try again, tomorrow morning”.
“Well”- Vivian said. “Jack, Danny has been very nervous, I think it’s because of all
the information we got about him. I...” – Vivian tried to explain it, trying to get
Jack’s understanding. “I’ve been keeping some things away from the others... I
don’t know if you understand me”.
 
Jack smiled. “Yes, I know there are things about Danny’s past that he doesn’t want
to be known by other people. I know those things and I think you know them as
well, Viv. I know you have worked deeply this case, Guzmán’s life and his relation
with Pullman, Fischer and, of course, Danny, and I’m really grateful for the tact and
confidentiality you kept about this. I understand you and I know you’ll be discrete.
However...” – Jack stopped thoughtful.
 
“What’s up, Jack?” – Vivian asked.
“Olczyk told me that it’s possible the OPR open a investigation. He wants to know
what Danny was doing in that building, why I didn’t pull him out of the case if I
knew he was involved... it was my fault, Vivian. It was my fault and I don’t know if
that information that you and I have will be known by other people and I’m afraid
it will be misunderstood” – Jack explained in a sad tone.
 
“Jack, Danny could have been involved in this case but all the time he was decisive
in the resolution of the case. I know what you’re talking about, I read Tom Pullman’s
statement and Martin told us what he said. But we have Sandra Fischer’s statement and 
she told us that probably Danny had saved their lives...”
 
“Yes, but Danny thinks he caused Guzmán’s reaction and if an investigation is
opened... I need to know he is sure about things, I want to be sure that my work
was correct... I don’t want them to open an investigation about the case, about
Danny; if they do that, they could destroy him”- Jack said.
 
“You’re anticipating a lot Jack, you’re tired. Wait for tomorrow, then, talk to Danny
again. He’s weak and he can’t think properly, but later, it will be different”
“Viv, would you make me a favour?”- Jack said, looking directly at her. She nodded.
 
“I want you to look for the notebooks Danny took in Tom Pullman’s home. He had
them with him, he was reading them when you gave him the note Guzmán sent to
the office, in the interview room, do you remember?” – Vivian nodded. “I can’t find
them, Viv. I need those notebooks, I need to know what Pullman wrote in them.”
“All right”- Vivian stood up. “Can I ask for help to anyone else?”
“No, I don’t want you to tell anything about this, right?”
“Okay, it’s not a problem, Jack”.
Jack stayed in his office for the rest of the day, between calls and reports.
 
 
Chapter 7
 
December, 4
St. Lukes Hospital. 10.30 am
 
 
Jack opened slightly the door and closed it behind him.
 
“Hi, Danny” – he greeted watching him awake.
 
“Hi” – he said, with an upset expression.
Jack took a chair and sat down beside him. “How do you feel today? The nurse told
me that you spent a bad night...”
 
“I see they gave you the medical report” – Danny said in disgust.
Jack smiled. “Hey Danny, they didn’t give me the medical report, they just advised
me to not disturb you too much, and the ‘he spent a bad night’ was included in the
advice. How do you feel?”.
 
“Not very well, my whole body hurts me, I’m a bit sick, I start shivering from time
to time, I’m tired and I can’t complain because if I do, then they inject me with
something to sleep and I don’t want to sleep anymore”.
 
“I see... well, be patient, the doctor told me that you are doing well, Danny. You
received a hard beating”- Jack smiled trying to make ease the situation. “What
happened last night?”.
“Nothing” – Danny replied shortly.
 
“Nothing?” – Jack repeated.
Danny looked at him with his typical expression of ‘it’s not your business, ok?’ and
changed the matter. “Why the others didn’t stop by?”
“I... I don’t let them, Danny”.
 
“Why?” – Danny asked in surprise.
 
“Because I need your statement and until that moment, I’m not going to let them
visit you”.
“Oh”- Danny said frowning.
“Danny, listen a moment” – Jack said, resting his hand on Danny’s arm trying to get
his attention. “I need you tell me some things, I need you try to focus on the case,
okay?”
 
“Okay”- Danny muttered as tried to find a more comfortable position.
 
“Does it hurt?” - Jack asked worried.
“It’s nothing”- Danny replied. “What do you want to know?”
 
“Well, I want you to tell me everything you remember about what you did on
november, 29” – he said slowly.
“November, 29?” – Danny asked confused.
 
“Yes, do you remember the day we went Tom Pullman’s home?”- Jack said. Danny
nodded. “I want you to tell me what you did the day before”.
 
“The day before... you mean the day Tom and Sandra received the letters,... when
they disappeared”. Danny frowned, thoughtful. “I don’t remember anything special,
Jack”.
 
“Well, I’ll help you. Did you go any place before going to work?” – he asked.
 “No”.
“Right. The night before we found Ryan Moretti, maybe you did the reports that
morning. You gave them to me later...”.
 
“Yes, that’s true. It was late when we found Moretti, and we decided to write the
reports the next morning... Yes, eh, then I went with Martin to the Cafe,... we didn’t
have too much work... and in the afternoon...”
 
“Well, what did you do when you left the office?” – Jack asked him.
Danny remained thinking for a moment and he seemed to remember something but he didn’t 
tell anything. He started to play with his hands nervously and looked away.
 
“Hey Danny, what’s wrong?” Jack asked him. “Are you okay?”
 
“Eh, yes, it’s that...” he started. Danny didn’t want to tell Jack anything, not about
this. He realized that his coworkers could know a lot of things about him that he
didn’t want to tell. For the time they had been working this case, he tried to keep
his past away, in the shadows, but now...
“Why are you asking me that, Jack, what’s the connection with the case?”- Danny
asked instead of replying to the question.
“Danny, relax, I only want to know if Guzmán sent you a note as well and, if he did,
when he did it...”
 
“Why? Why is it important?”- Danny protested.
 
“I don’t know yet, but I want to know. Please, tell me where you went when you
left the office”- Jack insisted.
“I... I went to a meeting”- Danny said avoiding his look.
Jack understood. “An AA meeting?”
 
Danny nodded.
“Well, then you came back home...” – Jack tried to help him.
 
“No”- Danny muttered.
Jack looked at him questioningly, but Danny wasn’t willing to cooperate. Jack had
been reading Danny’s profile and other notes, and he had found a coincidence on
november, 29. Jack had found on his own some information about Danny from the
Social Services in Miami. It was what he had been doing the day before, after asking
Vivian to look for those damn notebooks.
“Listen”- he said in the softest tone he got. “When, nine years ago, I was looking for
someone to join my team, I got additional information about you. Right now, I’ve
got more information from Social Services in Miami. Danny, this information is
completely confidential, only I know about it, nobody else.”
 
Danny was terrified. “Why?” – he managed to ask.
 
“Because it’s the best thing I can do to help you. I’m not... I’m not judging what you
did before. I understand it was a complicated period in your life and the events
written in your file can be explained... I don’t know... I don’t care, it’s the truth, but I
want to know. Just that”.
“Why are you saying that is the best way to help me, Jack?” – Danny almost didn’t
dare to ask, but it was easy to guess what was happening.
 
Jack sighed. “Olczyk has told me that the OPR is going to open an investigation. He
wants to know why I let you to keep working the case as you were directly
involved. Until that point I think I have control over it and I think you won’t be
affected by that, but I need to know everything you did for that period”.
“Oh my god”
“Yes, oh my god, Danny but I’m going to help you, okay?. Well, can we go on? Are
you okay, are you tired, do you want something?” – Jack asked.
 
“Water, please” – Danny said.
 
Jack handed him the water glass. “Well, Danny, I was reading your file and
November, 29 is the date your parents died, is that right?”
 
“Yes”
 
“That’s the reason you went to the AA meeting.”
“Yes”
 
“Didn’t you come back home?”
 
“No, I spent talking a while to my sponsor after the meeting was finished, I don’t
know, a couple of hours, maybe. It wasn’t a good day for me and I didn’t want to be
alone”.
 
Jack would have asked why he didn’t tell one of them but he didn’t ask that
question.
“Can he confirm your alibi?” he asked knowing the answer.
 
Danny looked at him and sadly smiled. “Of course... he can’t”.
 
“Well, you say that you didn’t come back home. What did you do the rest of the
night? – Jack asked.
“Walk... there is... there is a place I usually go when I need to relax. It’s quiet and
silent, you can hear the murmur of the sea and it’s good”- Danny said.
“This time of the year it’s cold”- Jack said surprised.
 
“Yes, it was really cold”- Danny smiled. He didn’t like to talk about that but he trust
Jack and he knew that he couldn’t do anything else to stop it. Beside that, if Jack
had read the damn reports about him, he hadn’t anything to hide, whether he liked
or not.
 
“Did you go directly to Tom Pullman’s home, when I called you the next morning?”
“No, I stopped at home to take a shower and change my clothes. When you called
me I was at home.”
 
“I was there, you have a small mailbox, you should have seen it if Guzmán had left
to you an envelope like Tom’s. Do you remember if you saw it?”
“I didn’t remember to open the mail... I’m a bit absentminded with that. I don’t
open my mailbox everyday”.
“He could slid the letter under the door...”
 
“No, I would have seen it”.
 
“Well, when you were in Tom Pullman’s home, you took the notebooks and
realized who Tom was in that moment”.
“Yes, as I told you, when the trial finished, we were separated and I didn’t know
anything else about them, until now, of course”.
“But, you could have got information about them if you had wanted, hadn’t you?”
What are you asking me, Jack? Of course. If we hadn’t found those notebooks, if I
hadn’t recognized him, we would have found the information in the data base, it
isn’t difficult for us”.
 
“No” – Jack grimaced. It was a stupid question. “Why were you so sure about
Guzmán?”
 
“Because of the sentence he wrote. Jack, I had just realized who Tom Pullman was
and at that moment, the whole old story came into my mind like it had happened
some hours ago. I remember that Tom wasn’t popular because of his cowardice
and Fede was always mocking him. That sentence is typical of Fede, I knew he was
behind Tom’s disappearance”.
“But Fede was in prision”.
 
“Yes, it was what we thought, but it was clear who had written that letter, at least
for me. I don’t know what Tom would think, or Sandra, when she received hers.
The meaning it was similar. She was the only one which testimony was validated
during the trial and Fede made reference to that in his note”.
“Yes, they were sure that the notes were written by Guzmán” – Jack said. “Where
are Tom’s notebooks, Danny?”
“At… at the office… I was reading them in the interview room when Vivian came in
with the note Guzman sent to me…”
 
“I don’t find them, Danny”
 
Danny looked at him worried. “I don’t remember what I did with them. I know we
focused on the note and then… then we went to that building, but… I don’t know
what I did with them, maybe I left behind in the interview room”.
“Well, Viv is looking for them”
 
“Viv?”
 
“Yes, as you will understand, I’m not going to ask to everybody look for those
notebooks, I don’t want them to start to gossip in the office. As I told you before I
don’t want any confused information spread around and I know you don’t want
that either.”
“Yes, well, I know, thanks for your concern. It’s a relief for me.”
“I know”- Jack said. He cleared his throat before asking Danny the next question.
 
“Well, Danny. How the hell you knew they were in the other building and why the
hell you didn’t obey my orders?”
 
“It… it was a mistake, I didn’t realize, Jack… I didn’t realize” – Danny said with
broken voice as a couple of tears escaped from his eyes. He knew where Jack
wanted to go to. It was his fault, he had put the case at risk and the most important,
innocent’s lives. How he could be so stupid!. Jack was talking to him about an
investigation that probably would ruin Jack’s career. Danny knew that there was
some people trying to destroy Jack’s reputation and he was giving them the perfect
excuse. He tried to calm down but he couldn’t, he was much too tired, much too
weak to control his emotions. He couldn’t do anything in that damn hospital bed.
“Hey, come on, calm down” – Jack squeezed gently his arm. “Everything is okay,
Danny. I only need that you tell me what happened, right? I’m not angry with you,
okay?”
 
Jack blamed himself. He wasn’t angry with Danny, it was his fault. He knew about
Danny’s character, he should have left him in the office. It was only his fault, not
Danny’s.
But Danny didn’t stop crying. Jack wanted, he needed it, to know what had
happened, why Danny had got out the car, how he knew where Pullman and the
others stayed, and he had to disconnect him from Guzmán.
 
“Danny, please, you have to calm down, come on, what you tell me is just between
us. Listen to me, we make mistakes sometimes in life, you don’t have to assume the
responsibility for other people’s mistakes. Guzmán is the only one responsible of
what happened, not you, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I did a stupid thing, Jack” – Danny said again,sobbing.
 
“Okay, Danny, it’s okay, calm down, please, calm down, everything is okay, but I
need to know what you are talking about, I need to know what happened”.
“I’m sorry, Jack, I’m so sorry” – Danny said when, finally, he was calmer.
 
“Don’t worry, Danny but you have to calm down and tell me what happened so I
can help you, do you understand?”- Jack said once more time, looking in his eyes
because Danny avoided looking at him.
 
“All right”- he finally whispered – “All right. I… I was in the car, like you asked me. I
was looking at you talking with someone from the SWAT team when other agent
knocked the window. It was dark and I didn’t recognize him. I opened the window
and the agent told me that you wanted me to join you. Finally, I felt I could do
something, I was so happy that I didn’t realize you could have called me or simply
turned back and signalled to me. You were in front of me… but I didn’t even think
about it and I got out of the car. I hadn’t even closed the door when I felt the gun
pressing my side. Then I saw him, it was Fede Guzmán. He took up my gun and
forced me to go to the other building. When I realized what was happening, I
looked for my cell in the pocket and pushed the call button. I was pretty sure that
the last call I made was to you, so I took the risk”.
“You did well, Danny, thanks to that call and the conversation between you and
Fede, you told me where you were. If you hadn’t done it, we wouldn’t have found
the place in time, Danny”- Jack encouraged him.
He handed Danny the water glass, before he continued.
 
“There isn’t much to tell, when we got in the elevator, he punched me to make me
stop talking and removed my handcuffs. When we arrived at the fourth floor I was
handcuffed, so when he opened the door of the apartment and pulled me inside,
the cell fell down from my pocket and I couldn’t do anything. Guzmán realized
what I had been doing and he became furious”.
 
Danny paused, he was nervous and he was getting sick. He had to rest but now he
had to finish his tale.
“Are you okay?” – Jack asked him worried.
 
“No, I’m getting a bit sick, I need to rest a little” – Danny admitted.
“Sure, we can go on later” Jack told him standing up.
 
“No, wait, I’d rather finish this”- Danny stopped him.
“Okay, I’m listening”.
“I saw Tom at the back of the room. Sandra was near of the door. Both were tied
up… they couldn’t move. Then Fede started to hit me and spilled the contents of a
bottle of whiskey or something similar on me because I felt sick and the smell
made me throw up. He went on hitting me and I think I lost consciousness, I was
seeing everything spinning around me. I think he was doing something to Tom, he
started to sob, then Fede moved away and I saw Tom with a needle in his arm. He
was drugged or something. Sandra was screaming and crying and I saw Fede
approaching her. I thought he was going to kill her. I was close enough to her, so I
turned to her and trapped Fede’s legs with mine. Then he shot me. It was a stupid
action from me, I only wanted to take advantage of the situation, so that he didn’t
hurt Sandra. Jack, you have to understand, it was my fault, if Fede hadn’t become
furious, if he hadn’t found my cell, if he hadn’t acted so quickly. He had all the time
in the world as you looked for him in the other building, but I made…”
 
“Eh, eh, eh, Danny”- Jack interrupted him. “Stop that crap, please. You didn’t make
any mistake, you saved Sandra and fortunately you got the paramedics to the place
quickly and saved Tom as well. You did okay, Danny, you did your work well. You
haven’t any reason to be ashamed, do you understand? You did okay.”
 
Danny closed his eyes as Jack touched his forehead. Danny was too warm. He was
feverish and tired. “Now, rest, Danny. Listen, I’ll be back in a couple of days, but I’ll
tell Martin, Sam and Vivian that they can stop by, right?”
“Right”- Danny said without opening his eyes.
 
Jack left the room and went to talk to the nurse.
“Have you finished, agent Malone?”- she asked.
 
“Yes, I think that I have spent too much time with him, but I needed to talk to him”.
“Yes, I’m going to check his vitals, right now” – she said.
 
“I think he’s asleep but, I don’t know, I think he has a fever” – Jack said.
“Ah, well, I’ll check it, don’t worry” – she said.
 
“Fine, thanks”.
It was 08.00 pm when Jack was going to leave the office, but the phone started to
ring. Jack left his jacket on the chair and picked up the phone. Alexander Olczyk, his
boss, wanted to talk to him the next early morning. He didn’t tell Jack what it was
this meeting about, but Jack already knew what it was going to happen.
 
 
FBI Offices. New York
December, 5. 09.30am
 
 
“Jack, this is special agent John Philips and special agent Robert Ruttland, from the
OPR. Jack shook both hands. They are going to investigate Pullman’s case, as I
already told you”- Olczyk said.
 
“There are some questions about this case, agent Malone, since you knew that
special agent Taylor was involved in the case and you let him to work in it” –
special agent Philips started, looking at a file.
On the desk they had the reports written by Jack and all the team, Tom Pullman,
Sandra Fischer and Danny Taylor’s statements and the reports from SWAT team.
 
“When did you know that special agent Taylor was involved in the case, agent
Malone?”- Philips asked.
 
“Agent Taylor wasn’t involved in the case” – Jack replied quietly.
“According to the reports, Taylor identified the victim Tom Pullman and the author
of the note, Federico Guzmán, as his former friends”.
 
“Yes, it’s correct and thanks to that, we made progress quickly. But agent Taylor
wasn’t involved in the case. He only knew them.”
“According the information your team learned, Pullman, Fischer and Taylor were
witnesses of a tragic murder that Guzmán perpetrated in 1988 and, as a result of it,
the Judge suggested a change of identities and their transfering to other group
homes inmediately, which was done by social services.” – Ruttland said.
 
“It’s correct”- Jack said- “but I don’t see why it’s important for the case...”
“Pullman and Fischer said that since that moment they didn’t keep in contact and
they never saw each other again. They didn’t know about Taylor or Guzmán
either”.
 
“And?” – Jack asked.
“Thomas Pullman has said that Guzmán seemed to be very well informed about his
movements, which is a coincidence with Ms. Fischer statement. Pullman wondered
why a man who had been so long time in prison and he didn’t live in New York
could have gotten so detailed information about him. When he was asked if he was
thinking about another person, he pointed directly to agent Taylor. You know that,
Malone. What do you have to say about this?”
 
“I think Tom Pullman is wrong. It’s true... it’s true that any of us could have gotten
that information from the data base, but Danny Taylor is an honest agent, and I’m
sure he never would do it. In any case, Pullman has to prove it”.
“Yeah, well, I have to remember you that Pullman is the victim, here. Why did you
let agent Taylor take part the case, knowing his relation with these people?”
“Actually, I pulled him from the investigation. When we realized that Guzmán could
go looking for the three of them, I didn’t let him to go out of the office, I didn’t let
him to work the case either”.
 
“However, he insisted in going out of the office. Why?”
 
‘How the hell do you know that?’ – it was what Jack wanted to ask but it would be
better try to keep the temper. “We were in a dead end. Guzmán didn’t make any
movement and Danny thought that maybe Guzmán was waiting for his reaction. He
thought that maybe Guzmán had sent to him a note at home”.
 
“That was on november, 30. Tom Pullman and Sandra Fischer had received the
note the day before.... why didn’t Taylor?”
 
“We don’t know, agent Taylor left home early on November 29 and when he came
back it was november 30 in the morning and he didn’t check his mailbox. I asked
him about it.”
“Very opportune”- Philip smiled, as he wrote something.
Jack felt a knot in his stomach. He realized that the investigation was being headed
against Danny instead himself.
 
“Agent Taylor received a note on november, 30 at 20.00pm in the FBI’s office with
an address that we later found to be false. However, he was found in the same
room with the victims and Guzmán. How did he get the correct address?”
Jack told them what Danny had told him, what it was in the reports, the OPR’s
agents have got, but evidently they were looking for a discrepancy in the
statements. “He called me and he left his cell open so I could hear the correct
address. Thanks to him we reached the apartment and saved Pullman and Fischer
before Guzmán killed them. We would never have gotten that without agent
Taylor”.
 
“Well, did you ever suspect that Guzmán and Taylor were together in this, to get a
benefit, and when things turned bad, Taylor regretted...” – Ruttland suggested.
“No way!” – Jack yelled. “I told you and I wrote that in the report you have on the
desk, that agent Taylor was forced to get out of the car and when he realized what
was happening, he connected his cell to tell me where they were... don’t you want
to hear me?”
 
“Calm down, agent Malone, we’re just clarifying some things, just that” – Ruttland
said.
“Clarifying? There’s nothing to clarify. To me, everything is absolutely clear”.
 
“Yes, it’s possible you’re right, agent Malone, but since the moment that one of the
victims, Thomas Pullman makes a statement like this, getting doubts about the
credibility and work of one of our agents, in this case, special agent Taylor, you
have to understand that our responsability is to investigate and clarify the facts”.
“No, I’m sorry but what you’re doing is accusing one of my agents because of
circumstantial evidences based on Pullman’s statement when you have got a lot of
reports, Fischer’s statement, SWAT agent’s report and my team’s report, as well
with no doubts about agent Taylor”. – Jack yelled.
 
“Talking about reports, we’ve got some reports from the social services in Florida.
Federico Guzmán and Daniel Alvarez... your agent Taylor” – Ruttland said acidly-
“shared group home for a couple of years and they shared a lot of pranks and
minor offences... there’s very little to say in his favor. I don’t think we are talking
about circumstantial evidences, agent Malone. Anyone would be doing deep
investigating your agent, I hope you don’t feel offended, we’re just doing our
work”.
 
Jack left the office two hours later boiling with rage. He couldn’t believe what was
happening. His worst fear was turning to reality. He was sure about his defense
about Danny’s participation in the case, but they weren’t going to get him, they
were going to get Danny. Why were they giving so much importance to that stupid
Pullman’s statement? What would he tell Danny after this? What would happen to
him? Danny hadn’t anybody watching his back, Jack was the only one to deffend
Danny and the worst, the most Danny feared, that his childhood events would be
known by others, was going to be known not only by his coworkers but a lot of
people.
 
Jack stayed in his office and didn’t keep contact with anybody else for about half an
hour. He needed to calm down and think about what he was going to do. Danny
was his responsability and he wouldn’t let the OPR destroy his career. Then, he
picked up the phone and dialled Viv’s number.
“Vivian, take Martin and Sam and come to my office, now” – Jack hung up not
waiting for a reply.
“What’s happening, Jack?” – Martin asked noticing the worried expression on his
boss.
 
“The OPR had started an investigation about Pullman’s case. It’s possible, but I
don’t know yet, they may want to ask some questions to all of you. The matter is
complicated and I would like to talk to you about what happened.”- Jack was
speaking slowly staring all and every one of his agents. They understood that what
Jack was trying to tell them was difficult and remained silent.
 
“Vivian”- Jack looked at his cowoker – “Please, tell me that you found what I asked
you to look for”.
“Yes” – she said. Otherwise she would have smile but this time she felt the weight
of the responsability, the importance of the situation and she kept serious. “Danny
left them in the interview room and the cleaning service picked it up. But I found it
right before they carried the bags to the rubbish skip.”
Did you look for them in the rubbish?” – Jack asked in surprise.
She softly smiled. “I had to bring them back. What the agents of the OPR have told
you?”
 
“Well, what I’m going to tell you, I want to keep it inside this room. Nobody else,
nobody, must know it. You must to understand that if I tell you, it’s because it’s the
only way I find to solve this matter, but I would rather to keep it under secret”. Jack
said in the same quiet tone he used before.
“You can trust us” –Sam said seriously.
“Well, I expected the investigation, and I think Olczyk as well, had to do with
Danny’s presence in the case. I... I was ready to explain them why Danny was there,
but then, things turned to a complicated matter”- Jack started.
 
“Tom Pullman’s statement” – Martin said slowly.
 
“Essencially, that’s it. The investigation has been open to clarify the connection
between Danny and Federico Guzmán and his potential... involvement in the case.”
“How absurd!” – Sam exclaimed.
 
“No, it doesn’t... I mean, we know that it’s absurd, but Danny’s past is very
connected to Guzmán, and the circumstances around this case have reached a
confused point and there is a statement, the victim’s statement, directly accusing a
FBI’s agent, that’s the reason to start an investigation like this”.
“What... what circumstances? What are you talking about, Jack?”- Martin said
confused.
Jack looked at Vivian and she nodded. “Pullman’s notebooks are safe... at home,
Jack”- she said – “Nobody else has read them but I’ve read some parts and it could
be a problem”.
 
Jack told Martin and Sam some of the events Vivian had already knew about
Danny’s youth, his delinquent activities, his friendship with Guzmán, his problems
with alcohol... He told them about Mrs. Oldberg’s trial and what happened there. As
Jack talked to them about Danny’s difficult years, Sam and Martin realized it
wouldn’t be so easy to help their coworker.
“But Jack, all of this is past, it’s over. The truth is that Danny is now a totally
different person that when he was younger, Sam said. She was surprised but
relieved as well because now, she could understand some of Danny’s reactions.
 
“Well, tell Pullman that. You weren’t there when he made his statement”- Martin
said.

“Yes, well, I want you to study carefully all the reports and I need you remember
exactly what you noticed in Danny’s behaviour trying to be the most coherent
possible to ruin their arguments, right?”- Jack said. “Ah, by the way, when you visit
Danny, don’t tell him any word about this, you know, Danny has been always so
much careful with his private life that, seriously, if he knows that you know about
his past, it would be very painful to him. I don’t want to cause him more
discomfort”.
 
“Well, we’ll bear that in mind, just a bunch of flowers and happy faces” – Sam
grimaced.
 
“Exactly, it’s what I want for him”- Jack said.
 
 
Chapter 8
 
St. Lukes Hospital, New York
December, 5. 04.30 pm.
 
A bunch of flowers and a happy face. Sam carried the flowers, the happy face was
the most difficult. At least they could get into the room. Just for a moment, the
nurse advised.
 
Vivian softly opened the door and she saw Danny was awake. He turned his head
to see her and smiled back.
“Hey, Viv”- he said.
 
Vivian got into followed by Sam and Martin. “Hi Danny, how do you feel?”- Sam
asked.
 
“Fine! Now I’m seeing you, really fine” – he smiled.
“We’ve bought this bunch of flowers for you, on our way” – Sam said – “I’ll put in
something”. She disappeared in the little service placed into the room and a few
moment later she went out with a bottle where she put the flowers.
 
“It’s okay. Hey Danny, we miss you a lot, we want you to come back soon. Did the
doctors tell you when you’ll leave the hospital?”- she asked.
 
Danny felt a little uncomfortable, the presence of his three coworkers made him
feel sick, he was recovering slowly, the doctor told him that his liver had especially
suffered the effects of the beating and he wasn’t ready to leave the hospital.
“I don’t know, Sam. I want to get out of here, as well, but I have two broken ribs
and a gun shot. I’m afraid I’ll stay for a while... maybe a couple of weeks.”- he said.
“Yes, don’t forget that you have to help us to decorate the office. We haven’t put the
Christmas tree up yet and you know that you’re responsible for putting the star on
the top”- Martin said.
 
“Oh yes, sure, don’t you dare do it without me”- Danny said.
The four of them remained silent for a while not knowing what more to say. Danny
had a worrying question going round in his head for a while and he had barely
looked at Vivian. He was worried about what she might know about him, what she
would think about him, he didn’t know if she had found the notebooks, he didn’t
know if she had read them. He wanted to know but at the same time he was scared
about the reply. However, she noticed something because she approached to him
and gently squeezed his arm. Then, he looked at her and saw a worried expression
that she hid inmediately.
 
“Danny”- she said- “Jack asked me to look for something for you. I want you to
know that I’ve found it and I kept in a safe place. I don’t want you to get worried
about anything, okay?”
 
“No, I’m not worried Viv. I was... I was thinking about... have you finished eating the
turkey?”
The four of them laughed and after that they were talking about things without
interest, until the nurse got into the room and asked them to let her patient rest.
“You have to rest, Mr. Taylor”- the nurse said, as she rearranged the pillows and
checked the medication.
 
“Is that what I have to expect from them?” – Danny asked her.
“What do you mean?” – she asked.
“I mean them coming into the room with a bunch of flowers and a smile on their
face, telling me that everything is okay and hiding from me what they are feeling,
what they are thinking about, what’s happening...” – Danny said tiredly – “I realize
how things works, even from this hospital bed”
 
The nurse didn’t know what to say. “Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about
but I think you shouldn’t figure out anything or to get worried about anything as
you stay here. Now, the doctor will come in to check you and the only thing you
have to do is to rest.”
 
Danny sighed and didn’t say anything else.
“The experience tells me that a lot of times, people who spends some time in
hospital think about what is happening out of here and they suffer. Most of the
time that pain is unneccessary, doesn’t help and it’s absolutely fruitless”- she said.
She had approached a chair and sat down beside him. The smiling face she saw
when she entered in the room had vanished and right now Danny didn’t look at
her, he turned his head away but she was sure he was crying. She gently squeezed
his arm until the doctor came in.
 
“How do you feel, Mr. Taylor?” – he asked, ignoring the situation.
Danny closed his eyes and wiped the tears, as the doctor checked the notes that the
nurse had given to him. “Not very well” – he replied- “I’m tired and I’m getting
sick”.
 
“Have you received visitors today?”- he asked.
Three of my coworkers were here a moment ago, yes. I got a little sick, that’s all”-
Danny said- “When can I go back home?”
 
“Well, the wound from the shot is okay, there isn’t any infection and it’s healing
okay. But I worry because your liver is still inflamed, it would have to be much
better. When that inflamation is over, then you’ll be able to go back home. I’ll ask
for a new blood test and we’ll see”- the doctor explained – “If every thing is doing
well, you’ll stay at home on Christmas Eve”.
“Oh, how exciting”- Danny said without emotion in his voice. If the doctor knew
how much he hated Christmas Time, he would never have said that. But Danny
wasn’t in good mood for anything, he was really worried about how much his
coworkers could know about him, and their attitude to him, much than the bruises
he still had on his body.
 
 
December, 22
 
 
Danny stopped in the entrance of the building where he lived, looking at his right,
where the mailbox was. He headed for his and opened it. The majority of mail was
publicity brochures. There wasn’t any note from Fede Guzmán... Jack would have
told him, he would have picked it up. One hour before the doctor gave him
permission to leave the hospital, as he promised, a couple of days before Christmas

Eve. During the time he spent in the hospital, the snow had covered the streets and
the Christmas feeling was everywhere, the lights, the decorations, people carrying
big bags... another Christmas time.
 
Once he was at home, took a warm comfortable shower. Nothing better than a hot
and relaxing shower at home. It was one of the things he missed the most. Well, he
had to rest. Next day he would go back at work and he didn’t know how his
coworkers would welcome him after what had happened. He wanted to ask Vivian
the notebooks to give back to Tom, surely he wanted to get them.
He went to the living room and switched on the TV. He didn’t know what to do, he
usually spent most of the time in the office and home was just to sleep. He looked
at the phone and frowned. There weren’t any messages. It was strange, at least,
during the time he spent in the hospital, his sponsor would have called him... or
Sylvia. He kept a very close friendship with her; in fact, he was going to dinner the
night of 24, to celebrate the Christmas Eve all together, like the family they were.
Rafie was given permission to get out of prison for two days, and he had invited
Danny at his home to spend that special night. Danny gladly agreed, he knew the
rules, no work, no prison life, no past, just present and future and if they could talk
about cars, the better. Rafie loved cars and you can be listening to him talking for
hours. Their relationship was growing step by step after Rafie had hit rock bottom.
Their relationship was closer and Danny felt now relieved to be able to keep a
more or less normal relationship with his brother, even though they knew that
they would never be as close as they would like. There was too much pain inside of
them.
 
Danny played with the remote control trying to find any interesting channel on the
TV and finally he fell asleep on the couch. A bit later, the sound of the phone woke
up him.
“Hello?”- he mumbled.
“Danny? Well, finally I hear you. It’s Sylvia... where have you been? I was getting
worried.”
 
“Eh, I’ve been... eh, didn’t Jack called to you? Didn’t you ask for me in the office?”
 
“No, I’ve been really busy, I’m having double shift and this is a nightmare. Natalie
has had cold and I had to bring her to the hospital nursery. But, where you were?”
Danny told her what had happened. “I’m sorry Sylvia, I thought you would know
about that”.
“No, I left to you some message in the voice mail...”
 
“Oh yes? There is nothing in the voice mail”- Danny said.
“Gosh, well, look, I wanted to ask you for a favour, ... there is a baseball competition
tomorrow in the afternoon. Well, Nicky is very excited with it and I would like if
you could go to see him. I don’t know if I can and Rafie has got his permission only
for December 24 and 25”.
 
“No, Sylvia, I’ll go, it’s in the school where he’s attending, isn’t it?”
 
“Yes, in the school, at about five in the afternoon”
“Ok, I’ll be there and... eh, I’ll see you on 24, right?”
 
“Of course”
“Well, I’m going to see what’s happening to my voice mail. It’s strange I’ve been out
for three weeks and I haven’t got any message”.
 
“I left two or three messages. Well, Danny I have to work, take care, okay?”
“Okay, you too, bye”. Danny checked the phone but he didn’t find anything. He was
going to make a call and leave a message from his cell but then he remembered the
cell flying down through the window of that building.
Danny left the phone and decided to go out to get something to fill the fridge. He
wanted to come back to his regular life as soon as possible.
 
 
December, 23.
 
FBI Offices. New York.
08.45 am
 
 
Jack was in Olczyk office. This one had called Jack to talk to him.
“Sit down, please Jack”- he said.
 
“What happen?”- Jack asked.
 
“I wanted to ask you if you have heard about Pullman’s investigation” – Olczyk
said.
“Ask me? You’ll know how is going on”- Jack replied. “But, now you’re asking me,
after that conversation with the OPR’s agents...”
“Philip and Ruttland”- Olczyk said.
 
“Yes, those... agents, I haven’t got any news from them”- Jack said.
 
“Me neither, it’s the reason I’m asking you. I don’t know anything else and nobody
from the OPR has told me if the investigation is finished or not. It’s like they have
stopped it”.
“Maybe they realized that there wasn’t anything to investigate. Danny Taylor is one
of my best agents, Alexander. If you don’t mind me saying this, all that crap hadn’t
any basis and you know that”.
“Jack, you have to recognize...”
 
“No, I don’t recognize anything, I know the people I work with. You don’t know
how glad I am that the investigation is over. At least, when special agent Taylor
come back at work, he’ll do it in the best conditions, the only ones he deserves”.
 
“Wait a moment, Jack, you don’t understand, I’m not saying that the investigation is
over, I’m saying that I don’t know anything about it. It’s different, and...actually, I
don’t think that agent Taylor is involved in this. I think it’s a whole series of
circumstances but nothing else. Everybody has the right to have a past, right or
wrong, and we should be judged by our daily work”- Olczyk said.
Jack looked at him relieved and surprised. “Well, I don’t know if I have to thank
you”.
 
“No, it’s just my opinion, Jack. When the OPR informed me about the agent in
charge, Ruttland, I didn’t like it. That guy is very agressive. He can be useful in a
determined case but it doesn’t make sense in a case like this. But, well, I suppose
that if they haven’t talked to you, I think you shouldn’t be worried. By the way, if I
don’t see you before... merry Christmas”- he said.
Jack left Olczyk’s office not knowing if he was happy or surprised. The only thing
he was clear about, was that the investigation was over and Danny was coming
back today to put a star on the top of the Christmas tree.
 
Danny had got up early. He was nervous about meeting his coworkers after what
had happened, after that strange situation at the hospital, at least for him, made
him feel insecure. He didn’t know what would be their attitude and he didn’t know
how to react. He hoped that, as Jack had told him, things had kept in secret, only
Jack knew about his past and Vivian might know something, especially if she read
Tom’s notebooks. Tom Jennings, Tom Pullman. All the case brought into his mind
as if they were still working it, as the elevator’s door was opening. It was like
entering in the office the time had gone back to the moment when everything
started. However, on the whiteboard a new photo and new information told him
that he was, obviously, wrong. He headed quickly to his desk and dropped his
jacket on the chair. Sam was concentrating on something on her computer and she
didn’t notice him.
“Martin, what did you say the guy from the dry cleaner’s was named?” – she asked,
staring at the computer screen.
 
Danny looked around him and cleared his throat noticing Sam’s mistake. She
turned over and smiled. “Hey Danny, what a surprise! I didn’t realize it was today
when you would come back. Jack told us yesterday but this case is so complicated
and I forgot it. How do you feel?”
“Fine, pretty good, to be honest I was anxious to come back to work”, he said
smiling.
 
“Well, I have something for you, if you want to help me”- she said.
“What’s it about?” – Danny said as swichted on his computer.
 
Sam handed a couple of sheets, with a mocking smile. “I’m sorry Danny, you have
to look for information about these people. They are the clients of our missing
person. He is a insurance-salesman and he has a long list of clients”.
“What sort of insurances?” – Danny asked.
“Mainly life-insurances but also multirisk-insurances” – Sam explained him.
 
“So we’re looking for the furious client” – Danny said. “Hey, what happened to my
computer?”- he asked frowning.
“Why?”- Sam asked, looking at the screen. “I don’t see anything wrong”
“No, not now but… Well, surely it’s me. Would you like a coffee?”
 
“Sure”
 
Sam was happy having Danny around after what had happened. After what Jack
had told them, she was feeling something special about his coworker, she was
starting to understand better his behaviour. Well, it was that or maybe it was the
Christmas spirit. In any case everything returned to normal and that was good.
Sam explained the case to Danny, she showed him the documents they had, some
pictures from the missing person’s home and they started to work the list of clients
of Mr. Travis. They spent some time looking for those clients when Jack
approached them.
“Well, you came back, welcome”- he said to Danny, giving him a tap on his back.
 
“What are you doing?”
“We’re looking for Mr. Travis’s clients, there are three more sheets of clients they
sent us from Memphis”. – Sam said.
Jack raised an eyebrow. “He was working in Memphis two years ago. I don’t think
we’ll find out anything from those clients”.
 
“I know but we haven’t got anything from New York clients” – Sam said.
“What about Martin and Vivian?” – Danny asked.
 
“At the moment, nothing important. Mrs. Travis is getting more and more worried
because her husband needs his medication, soon. I don’t know, maybe our point of
view is wrong and we have to start to open up to other leads, Jack”.
 
“Yeah, maybe, but this man has a very quiet life, his social life is nonexistent, a few
friends...”
“His life is his work, he has a lot of clients, that guy must be rolling in money,
maybe he has gone beyond the pure commercial relationship, with some illegal
business and something went wrong... or as well, it’s pretty strange he keeps a high
social level but he hasn’t social life... maybe he has another hidden life and he has
gone away. Do you remember that case in 2003, Patrick Kent who was married
with two women at the same time?” – Danny said.
 
“Uhm, yes but this case is different and he never would run away without his
medication. He has a strict medication to control the glucose. The insulin is given to
him once a month and he needs three doses in a day. This is why his wife thinks he
isn’t voluntarily missing”.- Jack explained to him. “Eh, Sam, continue with the list.
Danny, come with me to my office”.
“Sure”- Danny stood up and after handed his sheets to Sam with a smirk, went
behind his boss to his office.
 
“Take a seat, Danny” – Jack said in a serious tone.
Danny sat down a little worried as noticed Jack’s change. “What’s wrong?”
 
“Well, I wanted to tell you a couple of things. First, I guess Vivian told you that she
found Tom Pullman’s notebooks...”
 
“Yes, she told me about it when she went to the hospital. I would like to have them
to give back to him” – Danny said.
Jack was surprised, but that was normal. Danny didn’t know too well what had
happened with Tom Pullman.
 
“Uhm, well I think that it isn’t a good idea, Danny. I told you that an investigation
would be open. The truth is that two agents from the OPR were asking me about
certain awkward matters”.
 
“Why?” – Danny asked.
“As I told you, surely the questions would be about the reason I let you keep
working during the case, but they seemed to be interested in your relation with
Guzmán” – Jack explained.
Danny remained silent. It was clear that things wouldn’t come back to normal as
quickly as he wished.
 
“It... it’s about Tom’s statement, isn’t it?” – he said in a whisper.
 
“Hey, listen. I don’t want you to be worried. Tom Pullman pointed you as the
person who help Guzmán to obtain information about him and Sandra...”
“Oh my God, I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it” – Danny muttered leaning his
elbows on the desk and hiding his face with his hands.
 
Jack pressed gently his arm. “Danny, I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, they’ve got a lot of
information and I think that Tom Pullman has twisted the facts making things look
different. The truth is that, if it wasn’t because they are talking about you, his
statement could have a certain reason”.
“What do you think I can do now?” – Danny asked tiredly. His expression was so
lost that Jack felt a lump in his throat.
“You have to do nothing, Danny. Fortunately, the investigation has been stopped,
nobody else has been interviewed and I haven’t seen any OPR agent around us.
Olczyk called me this morning...”
 
“Does Olczyk know about this?”- Danny was terrified now.
 
“Yes, he was in the meeting. As I told you, he called me this morning to ask if I had
any news about the investigation because it was stopped. I guess that finally they
didn’t find anything against you. You did your work well, Danny, they haven’t got
anything against you.”
“Well, but I still want to give back the notebooks to Tom” – Danny said. Jack
couldn’t see if Danny was scared or angry and that feeling didn’t like him.
“Danny, don’t do anything silly, these people from the OPR can be waiting for for
some wrong movement to continue the investigation and I don’t want it to
happen”- he said in a worried tone.
 
“Then, what do you want me to do, Jack? Do you mean that I’m going constantly
under OPR sight all my life? Are they going to investigate every movement I do,
every sentence I say to see if there is something strange with any missing person
and they are going to think I’m the responsible?” – Danny almost yelled.
 
Jack wasn’t able to answer that question. “I just want you to do your work, Danny”
– he said slowly – “but I don’t want you to do anything inconvenient. Believe me, it
would be very inconvenient if you give back those notebooks to Pullman. Danny,
please, you’ve just come back, take your time and start again. Forget everything
that has happened and probably we’ll never hear from the OPR again, at least,
about this case”.
“Jack, this work” – Danny said with broken voice – “this work is all what I have, all
what I am, it’s my life. If you take away my work, I have nothing, without all of you
I have nobody else, do you understand me? If they take away my job, they are
taking away my life”.
 
Jack had stood up and was behind Danny. He leaned his hands on Danny’s
shoulders. “I know, Danny. We’ll help you, you know that we trust you, we will help
you”.
Danny heard Jack’s words. He understood what he said and he felt the support
from the words, but at the same time he wasn’t sure about the time he could
handle with it, he hated any trace of sympathy, he accepted very well help,
friendship, compromise, but never sympathy. It would be difficult for him to
separate one thing from the other and he knew it was unfair, but he couldn’t help
but think in that way. It was his character. But, knowing what Jack was trying to do,
he got to calm down and muttered a barely audible “thanks”, just enough for them.
Jack knew that the situation was difficult for Danny. Maybe Danny didn’t know
how Jack understood his feelings and how difficult the current circumstances were
for him. He knew why Danny didn’t like to talk about himself, not only because his
strong decision to forget his past but also because he wanted to get friendship
based on what he was every day, in present and not a friendship inspired in
sympathy. Jack was fully aware that things never would be the same as before, at
least for Danny.
 
“How do you feel?” – he asked, changing the subject.
“I don’t know, Jack, I don’t know what to do” – Danny replied without getting what
Jack wanted to say.
“I mean, physically” – he said.
 
“Ah, well, fine. A couple of runs at the park and I’ll be right soon” – Danny replied in
a low tone.
 
“Do you want to go home?” – Jack asked.
“No, no, I’ll be fine” – Danny said standing up – “I think that I’ll be better working
than watching any stupid program at TV”.
“Yes, maybe you’re right but, Danny, don’t forget what I told you. I don’t want you
to do anything stupid, okay?”
 
“Okay, Jack”-
At that moment, Martin reached Jack’s office.
 
“Hey, Danny, you’re back, welcome. How are you?”- he said, giving a tap on his
back.
 
“Fine, making contact with the work” – Danny said with a slightly smile.
“Good, because we have a lot of work. Jack, I found that Travis was at a Mrs. Margot
Henderson’s home the day of the disappearance. She’s an octogenarian widow
living alone, I’ve got her address”.
“Okay, go to talk to her. Ah, Martin take Danny with you. A bit of action will go
down well” – Jack said.
 
Martin and Danny exchange a surprised look. Jack never would send anybody to
the field the first day back.
 
This noticed their looks. “I don’t expect an old woman in her eighties is a
dangerous situation”- he said – “Get out of here, don’t make me regret it”.
 
 
Chapter 9
 
 
Danny and Martin arrived Mrs. Henderson,’s home twenty minutes later. She
received them with a cup of tea in her hand.
 
“Special agents Fitzgerald and Taylor”- Martin said- “may we come in, please?”
 
“Are you with the FBI? What do you want? Ah, I know, it’s that idiot Palmer
complaining because I lopped his climbing plant... I can’t believe it” – she said as
shook her head.
“No, Mrs. Henderson, it isn’t about Mr. Palmer” – Martin said smiling. “We want to
ask you about Mr. Travis. He came in yesterday in the morning, right?”
 
“Yes”- she said as they sat down on the comfortable couch in the living room. “Oh,
excuse me, would you like a cup of tea?”
“No, thanks”- Martin replied. “Eh, tell me, did you notice something strange in his
behaviour.... something unusual?”
“Well, actually, his visit was unusual. A few months ago he was here to give me
professional advice about some properties my family has in California. My nephew,
Charlie, had made a life insurance with him and talked to me about Mr. Travis, so I
contacted him and he managed this matter very well”- Mrs. Henderson told them.
Danny was getting impatient and instead of staying seated listening to the
conversation, he stood up and started to take a look around the room. She frowned
not very convinced. “Excuse me guy, be careful with my things”- she said.
Danny smiled and told her. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to take anything”
She wasn’t convinced so from time to time glanced at him while Martin tried to get
her attention.
 
“Mrs. Henderson, when Mr. Travis visited you yesterday, what was he talking
about?” – he asked her.
 
“He asked for some documents about the sale of one of the properties I told you
about before. But I couldn’t give them to him because my nephew has all my
documents. He keeps them for me. I’m old, my memory is bad and I lose
everything”.
“Did you notice him nervous, worried?”
“No, but he got upset when I told him that I didn’t have those documents”.
 
“Mrs. Henderson”- Danny interrupted – “You have beautiful things in your living
room”
 
“Thanks, some of them are gifts my nephew brings me from his trips, other things
I’ve bought from ‘Ocean and Heaven’. When they visit me with those wonderful
brochures, I can’t resist the temptation and I always buy something”- she explained
them.
“Ocean and Heaven?” – Martin asked curious.
 
“Yes, it’s a firm working door to door. But, why are you interested in Mr. Travis?” –
she asked.
“He’s missing since yesterday morning. Probably, you are the last person to see
him.”
 
“Oh my god, poor guy. Do you think that his disappearance has something to do
with the documents I couldn’t give him?”
“I don’t think so”- Martin said. “Well, we have to go. Thanks so much for your help,
Mrs. Henderson”.
Martin and Danny left Mrs. Henderson’s home. Meanwhile, Martin asked Danny.
“Why did you ask her about the decorations? I can’t believe you like it”
“Not everything was bad, Martin. It fits with Mrs. Henderson’s personality, don’t
you think?” – Danny smirked.
 
Martin was glad to work with Danny again, but he hadn’t had the chance to talk to
him about what had happened in the office. So before Danny continued speaking,
Martin decided that it was a good moment to talk about it.
 
“Listen Danny, I... I wanted to apologise for my behaviour in the office when we
were working Pullman’s case. I... I went too far talking to you like that, it wasn’t
fair what I told you. I’ve always trusted you and I want you to know it”- he said.
“Yes, well Martin, I was also nervous and I said some silly things”- Danny said with
a smile. “It’s over, okay? By the way, I think I saw those porcelains before. It... it
was in Travis’s home. When Sam gave me the documents I saw the pictures of
Travis’s home and I think he had some of those porcelains”.
“Really?” – Martin said surprised. “What is the name of the firm Mrs. Henderson
bought the porcelains from?”
 
“Ocean and Heaven”- Danny pointed.
 
Ocean and Heaven gave them a new lead, the definitive lead to find Mr. Travis who
was finally found in a motel from New Jersey. Apparently, some of his fraudulent
business had gone wrong and the man, in view of the possibility of losing
everything, had ran away. Now he was scared and desperate because he knew that
he needed his medication and his whole life was going to be ruined because of a
bad business.
Mr. Travis was found in the evening so Danny couldn’t go to see Nicky’s game that
afternoon. However, he asked Martin for his cell and phoned Sylvia to tell her.
He was writing his report, when Vivian, whom he barely had seen during the day,
approached to him.
“You’re working hard your first day, Danny” – she said, leaning on his desk.
“Maybe, but I want to finish the paperwork before I forget something. I have to be
very detailed” – Danny said.
 
“Well, I hope you finish soon, we have a star to put on the top of the Christmas tree
and tomorrow is Christmas Eve, don’t be so detailed” – she said, leaving the star on
his desk.
 
Danny finished the report and saved it. He frowned looking at the screen. “What
happen....” – he muttered, noticing the slowness of the system saving his document.
But then, the computer saved his report and he picked up the star. “Well, I’ll put
the star and then we’ll go to drink something, okay?”
 
“Sure” – Martin said, picking up his bag and jacket.
 
Sam and Vivian were beside the Christmas Tree putting some objects and Danny
finally put the star. “Perfect” – he said smiling.
“Hey Jack” – Sam called... “are you going to join us?” – she asked.
“Ehr” – Jack looked at the time. “Okay, but only for a while”.
 
Danny came back home around 10.30 in the night. He was really tired, but the guys
were really having fun so he humored them.
 
He turned the key in the lock of his apartment’s door and frowned for a moment.
Pulling out his gun, Danny opened softly the door and turned on the light. With a
quick glance, he cleared the living room before heading carefully to the rest of the
rooms. It wasn’t anything strange but he had needed only a turn in the lock to open
the door when he always turned twice. He sighed, probably it was the tiredness. He
went directly to take a shower, he needed to relax and rest.
But, in spite of the shower, he didn’t get to sleep. He lay on the bed all the night,
looking the sky, trying to find those stars that stayed with him during his bad
moments when he lived in Miami, but they had abandoned him in New York. He
had tried to do his best during the day but now, alone in the night, he felt weak,
tired and scared. He wanted those notebooks, the possibility that someone could
read them was killing him. The OPR had opened an investigation and it was his
fault, and Olczyk even knew what had happened to him with Fede Guzmán. Damn
it, Tom, you are the same thoughtless now and twenty years ago, he thought while
left the tears run down his face. He couldn’t trust anyone, he had the strange
feeling that he was being watched. He could understand his coworkers behaviour
with him in only one way, the way of sympathy... his ears hurt him because of all
the times he had been asked ‘how do you feel?’, ‘are you okay?’. It could be unfair,
he hated that feeling. Someone had told him a long time ago that he would finish
paying for the bad things he had done. Would it be the moment now? Would he
pay for the death of his parents? Would Rafie be paying for their death, instead of
him? Would the miserable life his brother had had, be the consequence of his acts
when he killed his parents? The terrible and painful nightmares that were his
company since he was a child came back this cold night of December in a strange
confabulation against him. Danny just curled up on his bed and embraced his
pillow tightly while he desperately cried out all his pain.
 

December, 24
 
FBI offices. New York
 
Next morning, Danny arrived early at work and now he was drinking a coffee with
Jack.
 
Jack noticed the dark circles under Dannys eyes and his pale face. “Danny, it’s not
necessary for you to come in so soon, you aren’t 100 per 100 yet and I don’t want
something to happen to you.” – he said.
 
“I’m fine, Jack”- Danny said. “If I couldn’t come I would stay at home, I’m fine”.
 “You don’t look fine” – Jack insisted.
“It’s my neighbor, she had another baby and this one cries more than his brother” –
he lied.
 
“I see” – Jack didn’t insist, but he didn’t believe him.
Danny went back to his desk a moment later and after the ‘I’m fine’ to the wellmeaning
questions ‘how are you?’, he focused on the lecture of old files he had on
his desk. He opened one of the drawers looking for a pen when he found an
envelope he didn’t see before. It was an envelope similar to that Guzmán had sent
them. While he was opening the envelope, his phone started to ring.
 
“Taylor” – he said extracting the paper out of the envelope.
 
“Danny, it’s Sylvia... hey, what happened to your cell?”
“Hi Sylvia, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you. I lost my cell and I haven’t got a new one.
What happen? Is everything okay?”
“Yes, well, I don’t know. I’m in a hurry, I’m going to pick up Rafie but, listen, I
wanted to tell you that finally, yesterday I could go to Nicky’s game...”.
 
“Oh, that’s great!”- Danny said.
 
“Yes, but, listen, there were two guys, they seemed to work with the FBI and sat
down around six places on our right and they kept an eye on me for all the game”.
Danny frowned. “Did they tell you something?”
“No, when the game finished they left the place, but Danny, I swear you they were
watching me the whole time. I felt very uncomfortable. Do you think they were
there because of Rafie?” – she said. “I don’t want that people watching us for the
only two days we can spend together during Christmas time...”
 
“I don’t think this is because of Rafie” – Danny said. He remained thoughtful, with
the piece of paper in his hand, reading it.... reading it... “it’s the right...” – he started
to say. Suddenly he found a reason to his phone’s records, better, the absence of
them; the lock of the door’s home, the computer, the note he had in his hands... the
soft click he heard when he picked up the phone.
“Danny, are you there?” – Sylvia asked.
 
“Eh?. Oh, yes, I’m sorry, I have to work, I’m sorry... eh, I’ll come to your house about
seven more or less, okay?”.
“Okay, then you think I shouldn’t be worried about those people...”
 
“No, no, don’t worry. Probably they were watching another thing.”
Danny hung up and he looked out of the office, at the corridor. There was an agent
speaking on a cell. That face was so familiar, he had the feeling he had seen him
before, more than this, he had been seing him for the last couple of days.
An idea came into his mind. Probably, the OPR hadn’t finished the investigation,
they had registered his home, had deleted his records, closed the door with only
one turn... Would they had taken the note that Guzmán sent to him and that, now,
he was holding in his hands?... But Jack told him that he had stopped by his home
and there wasn’t anything in the mailbox, maybe there was in the house and the
agents had picked up it... no, he had come back at home that morning and there
wasn’t any note... but, if Fede left the note after he left home to go to Pullman’s
house?. He looked again at the note. “We’re waiting for you” and the address, the
right address. How had that note had been put in his drawer?
 
He thought about telling Jack, but then he realized that if they were watching him,
maybe they had put microphones in the office. Maybe it was paranoid but he had to
know it. He kept the envelope and the note in his bag and went to Jack’s office. He
was speaking on the phone but he signalled to him to come in.
“Well, right. I’ll call you later” – Jack said. Then he hung up.
“What’s going on?” – Jack asked.
 
“Eh, Jack, I’ve been thinking about the last case and...”
 
“Travis case?” – Jack asked curious.
“Yes, that case. Listen, I know that I wasn’t working the case from the beginning
but I would like to talk to Mrs. Henderson again, well, actually, I would like to
verify something related to the porcelains she had at home” – Danny said, trying to
sound convincing.
 
“Danny, the Travis case is closed. We found him, what has to be investigated isn’t
our work”- Jack told him surprised about having to explain that to his agent.
Danny had thought to write him a note, but that guy from the corridor could see
them and he didn’t want to take the risk.
“No, I understand you Jack, but I need some information to complete my report. It’s
just that, I’m not going to investigate anything. Come on Jack, we haven’t any case,
you know that in Christmas Eve time nobody is missing” – Danny said smiling.
 
“Well, go but don’t bother that woman” – Jack said, still a bit confused.
Danny left Jack’s office, picked up the keys of his car and quickly left the building.
He walked to his car, glanced around him to see the guy from the office already
into another car. Well, he was right, there were microphones. What to do, now? He
thought about the notebooks in Vivian’s home, if there were micros, they would
know where to look for them. If they found them before him, he was lost. He had
read those notebooks and he knew that there were things that could be
understood a wrong way. He was in trouble and he had to solve it by himself.
Vivian had hidden the notebooks and she could lose her job. And Jack. They didn’t
deserve it, it was his past, it was his mistake and only he had to pay for that. He
was still in the park lot, he had turned the car on but he didn’t move from there.
With his hands on the wheel and his head leant against it he tried to figure what he
should have to do and calm his nerves. Some little knocks on the window, made
him lift his eyes. Vivian.
She opened the car and sat down beside Danny.
 
“Close the door” – he muttered.
 
“What’s up, Danny?” – Vivian asked worried.
Danny started to drive out of the park lot, while the other car got out right after
him.
 
“Let’s go to your home”. - Danny said.
 
“My home? Why?”- Vivian exclaimed in surprise.
 
 “I need those notebooks, Viv” – Danny said almost begging her.
“Eh, eh, come on Danny, if you want I’ll give you. We don’t have to go at home
now”- Vivian said.
 
“No, I want them, now” – Danny said again with eyes on the road.
 
Vivian looked at him confused. Danny didn’t look at her, he was driving to Vivian’s
home to take notebooks that she barely had read. What those notebooks
contained? What, apart of what Jack had told them? She guessed what was
worrying Danny.
 
“Danny, if you’re worried about what is written in those notebooks, I... I haven’t
read them. I just did what Jack asked me, to find and keep them” – she said
touching softly his arm.
“Why in your house?” – Danny asked.
 
“Jack asked me to keep them away of the office and I did it, nothing else”.- Vivian
said.
 
“Well, let’s get to your home and take them” – Danny said. He switched off the
engine and got out of the car. Vivian did the same and went with him towards the
door. She opened and they entered. Danny stayed in the entrance while Vivian
went to her bedroom to get the notebooks.
Vivian came back in a moment without the notebooks. “They aren’t where I left
them” – she said worried.
 
She was about to continue talking but Danny signalled to be quiet and get out of
the house. Then, Danny spoke.
“Viv, I think that the OPR haven’t closed the investigation of Pullman’s case, I’m
sure they are investigating me, my phones are tapped and I think my computer as
well. I’ve got my personal watcher. Don’t look but a short distance behind my car
there is another one that was following us. One of the guys in the car is during the
day at the corridor in the office, as he was speaking on the phone or looking at
some papers, or whatever, but he is watching me”.
 
“Have they gone into my home?”- Vivian asked, not very happy with the idea.
“I don’t know, I don’t have any idea, I don’t know”- Danny shook his head. He was
desperate, he would have given all that he had for a drink to forget evertyhing for a
while and with a bit of luck he would be drunk enough to not feel the disapproving
looks of the others and not feel how his whole life was ruined.
 
But Vivian was there. He felt sick and tired and finally sat down on the stairs at the
entrance of the building. She sat down beside him and put her arm around his
shoulders, unable to say anything. She never had been working under a situation
like that, she understood what Danny told her, they had to have put micros in the
office, they would have listened to their conversations... all the team was under the
sight of the OPR. They could destroy her career, Jack’s career and Danny’s career.
Everything because of a stupid statement of Tom Pullman. Who was that man?
Why was he so important? She had investigated him, he was very normal, he didn’t
come from an important family, no, he hadn’t family. She remembered how his
wife’s parents hadn’t trusted him because of his non-family and that was the
reason they moved to New York from Boston. Her parents... her parents. Vivian
stopped in that thought. She pulled out her cell and dialled a number.
 
“Fitzgerald”-
 
“Martin, it’s Viv. I need you to do me a favour”- Vivian said in her most professional
tone.
“Tell me”
 
“I want you to”- Vivian started to speak but then she stopped. What if the OPR was
listening?.
 
Danny noticed she stopped talking and looked at her sadly smiling. She had realized what was happening.
 
“Viv?” – Martin asked.
 
“Yes, eh, Martin, listen, I’m very busy and I wonder if you would go to pick up
Reggie at school. I promised him that I would go, he’s going to carry back the
science project work and it’s really big, but I can’t go, so if you do me that favour...”
“Sure, Viv” – Martin started confused. Vivian never asked him that kind of favour
and Reggie wasn’t a little kid.
 
Vivian didn’t let him continue. “Right, he will be in the entrance of the school in
thirty minutes” – Vivian cut the call. “Danny, take the car and come back to the
office. Don’t leave the office and don’t do anything you’ll regret later. I’ll join
Martin, I want to know something, I’ll tell you later, but for now, please forget it,
okay?”
“Viv, there is something else”- Danny said- “I found the envelope in a drawer at my
desk this morning, Viv. The envelope that Guzmán sent to me in the morning of the
30th, surely after I left home to go to Pullman’s house with Jack. I’m sure he put it
under the door and they picked it up and left in my drawer”.
 
“Where did you put it?” – Vivian asked.
“Here, in my bag. But, you know what? The note read the right address, Viv. It’s the
address of the other building”.
 
“Who knows about this?”
 
“Nobody else. I was going to tell Jack, but then I saw that guy in the corridor and I
started to hesitate. I wanted to make a trap, I told Jack I was going to Mrs.Henderson home and
left the office. They inmediately went behind me... until here”.

“You have to get rid of that note, Danny. Let’s go into my house” – she said walking
to the door. “Come on, Danny” – she insisted noticing he remained sitting down on
the stairs.
 
“I don’t... I don’t want to involve you Vivian. Everything is my fault, I’m not going to
destroy your career or Jack’s because something I did”- he said.
 
“Danny, you didn’t do anything wrong, don’t be an idiot and come into the house.
Now” – she said grabbing his arm.
 
Once they entered the house, Vivian took Danny’s bag and got out the note keeping
it in her bag.
 
“Gosh, I always forget the keys. I hope Martin arrived on time to pick up my son.
Sometimes this work is terrible with school time” – she said.
Danny grimaced, as they left the house. “You know, right to the office and don’t
move from it, right?”

Danny and Vivian took different ways. As Vivian took a cab to go to the school
Danny came back to the office followed by the other car.
 
When Vivian arrived at the school, Martin was already waiting for her. He looked at
her with a questioning face. “Viv!” – he waved his hand.
 
“Hey Martin, eh, listen, I need a favour from you”- she said.
 
“That was what you told me… What I’m doing here?” – he asked.
“Listen carefully. I want you to investigate all what you can find out about Jennifer
Pullman’s family. But, when you find something, don’t tell anybody else”.
“Okay Viv, but, what is this about?” – he asked more confused than before.
 
“Do you like baseball, Martin? Well, you love it and we’re going to the stadium in a
couple of days. Here’s your ticket” – Vivian said handed to him the ticket she has bought to go
with Reggie to see the game of his favourite team, The Yankees. “You have two days, don’t work from 
the office. You can use the place or any way you like but never from the office”.
 
“But…”- he started.
 
“I’m not going to tell you anything else, now let’s go back to the office, there is a lot
of work to do and it’s getting cold here”- she said in a firm tone.
When they arrived at the office, Danny was helping Sam with some things. Vivian
looked at them as they worked. Nobody else could guess what was happening,
Danny was so focused in his work that barely saw her.
 
“What are you doing?” – she asked.
 
“I hate to keep papers” – Sam said, lifting her arms, as someone that can’t deal with
so much paperwork. “Look at my desk, if I get to put in order all this chaos today, at
least I’ll spend Christmas Eve resting at home”.
 
“Nobody has told you that when there is something you don’t like, do it first?” –
Vivian asked smirking and taking the newspaper in an exagerated way. “I’ve kept
all my papers long time ago”.
“I see” – Sam said – “Would you like to help me?”
 
“No, no, no, you have Danny helping you, you don’t need anybody else. Later, I’ll be
having a hard time in the kitchen at home, so I prefer to rest now… I’m not going to
get stressed because you haven’t got to put your papers in order” – Vivian said not
leaving the look from the newspaper.
 
“Ah, Christmas Eve dinner”- Sam said – “Martin is terribly nervous, I think he is
allergic to family dinners”.
 
“Especially if the family is his own. What are you going to do, Sam?”- Danny said.
“Uhm, I haven’t thought about it. You? If you don’t know what to do, we could do
something together” – she suggested.
 
“I’m sorry Sam. I’m going to my brother’s home. Sylvia invited me to stay on
Christmas Eve so I’ll go”- Danny said with a smile.
 
It was near six in the evening, when the office got empty. Danny took his car and
drove to Sylvia’s home. He would have liked to buy them some gift but he couldn’t.
When he parked in front of the building, he saw by the rear-mirror, the dark sedan
stopping a short distance behind him. ‘What those people expected to find there?
Didn’t they have family to spend the night or what? He decided don’t say anything.
He closed tightly his coat and crossed the street to the building where Sylvia lived.
His brother, Rafie, opened the door.
 
“Hey, brother!”- he said embracing him.
 
“Hi, Rafie” – Danny said quietly. He couldn’t help but his brother always got him
nervous and he cut loving gestures to him.
Rafie noticed him. “Hey Danny, relax, it’s Christmas time… you’re not here as an
FBI agent, are you?”
 
“No, if you say that because of the clothes I wear. I’m coming from the office. I… I’m
sorry Rafie, I’m a bit tired”- Danny said forcing a smile.
 
“Sylvia told me that you were in the hospital”- Rafie said. “Are you okay?”.
Danny nodded. “More or less, I left the hospital the day before yesterday…” – he
started.
 
At that moment, Sylvia entered in the living room. She was leant out the window
looking at Danny while he was parking the car. A dark sedan got her attention

when they parked behind Danny’s car. When Danny entered the building, one man
got out of the car and headed toward Danny’s car. Sylvia couldn’t see what the man
was doing there.
 
“They have followed you, Danny”- she said with a worried expression.
Danny sighed – “I watched them, Sylvia. I’m sorry, forget them, okay? They aren’t
going to bother us”.
 
“What’s hapenning bro?” – Rafie, asked – “Sylvia told me that yesterday there were
two guys watching her at Nicky’s game”.
 
“No, it’s nothing, okay?. It’s nothing to do with you” – Danny replied feeling upset.
Fortunately, in that moment, Nicky got out of the kitchen with little Natalie behind
him.
 
“Uncle Danny, uncle Danny!, you’ve come! Have you seen our Christmas tree? Do
you know papi is at home? Are you going to stay to dinner? Aunt Marisa and mami
have cooked a delicious dinner!!” – Nicky exclaimed. He was so excited that he
didn’t realize that they were in the living room, beside the Christmas tree and his
father was on Danny’s left. Nicky was eleven years old and little Natalie was
starting to take her first steps. Danny took her in his arms and hugged Nicky.
“Not for all the world I wouldn’t miss this” – he said, and he kissed Natalie on her
forehead. Both children left the room running to the kitchen, again, where her aunt
was cooking.
 
“I’m going to the kitchen as well” – Sylvia said. “Nelson will arrive in a moment, he
told me he would close the garage at six but he had to stop by home to change his
clothes”.
 
It was a very pleasant night and Danny got to forget for some hours the recent
events. Rafie’s children and also Nelson and Marisa’s son made the background
more happy. It was a different Christmas time. The relationship between Danny
and Rafie was better every day, it was clear that things had changed a lot since that
day Danny found Rafie in a garage with a needle in his arm.
It was near 11.00 pm when Sylvia’s brother, Nelson, and Marisa left Rafie’s home to
go to the Midnight Mass. Sylvia didn’t want to go out with little Natalie so late,
Rafie usually didn’t go to that kind of events and he wanted to talk to Danny.

When the children fell asleep, Sylvia started to wrap some of the gifts for the
children to put them under the Christmas Tree. Danny and Rafie sat down on the
couch to talk about two of their favourites subjects, baseball and cars.
 
“I’ve got a gift for you”- Rafie said, giving him a little pack.
 
“Oh, gosh, what a surprise!” –Danny said. Actually it was a surprise, it wasn’t usual
they exchanged presents. He didn’t even remember when was the last time they
did it. “I don’t...”
“Don’t care, it’s nothing special, it took me time to find it though... come on, open
it”- Rafie said.
 
“I couldn’t buy anything for you, Rafie. I... I don’t know what I could give you and
you could have in... in Ryckers”.
“Why in Ryckers? Next month I’ll have a new hearing. This time I’ll get the parole,
I’ve done well, Danny. I think the fact they let me going out these two days is good.
I have... I have two children, an amazing family... This time, I’ll do the right thing,
Danny” – Rafie said, putting his arm around Danny’s shoulders pulling him close to
him. It was a gesture they used to make when Danny was a child and that thought
made Rafie shaking slightly. He had forgot a lot of feelings, the drugs had ruined a
great part of his life but he wouldn’t let it happen again. “Come on, Danny, open the
gift”.
 
Danny didn’t know if it was because it was Christmas Eve or because of the recent
events but when his brother pulled close to him, he felt like the child he was, being
protected by his older brother from the rage of his father. With trembling fingers,
he opened the gift. It was a wonderful miniature of one of his favourite motorbikes.
It was very well assembled and painted and it had a lot of details. He couldn’t help
but, with that gift in his hands, the tears came easily to his eyes because of the
emotion. He blinked as muttered a barely audible “Thanks, it’s... it’s a nice gift,
Rafie”.
“Eh, I knew you would like it”- Rafie said smiling. “I hope you’ll put it in a visible
place, right? When I get out of prison, I’ll go to your home and I want to see where
you put it... don’t hide it”.
 
“Why do you think I’m going to hide it?” – Danny asked frowning.
 
“Because it’s what you always do... you never wanted anything from me. I
understood before but now... Danny, now I want, I want to change our relationship.
As I told you before, I want to make things right, because of Sylvia and the
children... and because of you. I did hurt you so much in the past and I will spend
the rest of my life making up to you for it”.
“What are you saying, Rafie? Of course our relation has changed for the best. It’s
good you are going to get out of prison, Sylvia deserves it and more, she has fought
a lot for you, but you don’t have anything to make up to me. Rafie, I was... I was the
one messing up everything.”
 
“What?”
 
“I killed them... I killed papi and mami, Rafie. I distracted papi’s attention on the
road and the car crashed against that tree. We would be together if I hadn’t opened
my mouth, you wouldn’t have to get into trouble.. you wouldn’t have had the
responsibility for me and you wouldn’t have had to pay the consequences for it”.
Rafie looked at Danny atonished. He didn’t understand him, but Danny felt very
sure about his words. In any way, Danny felt relieved telling Rafie about the
accident. The gift from Rafie had moved him, that gesture meant a great deal to
him, but at the same time he felt worse than before, he felt he had to apologise
because of what he had done in the past and he didn’t know how to do it. Telling
Rafie what he had done in that car was a kind of confession, a way to apologise.
But he didn’t know how to continue speaking, so he remained silent.
 
Rafie couldn’t believe the sorrow and the guilty feelings he was noticing in his little
brother. How many years had been Danny coping with it?
“Eh, come on bro, you’re tired. Don’t say silly things. I haven’t done what I’ve done
because of papi or mami, Danny. They died a long time ago, but I was already into
trouble. I know I have no excuse but you have to remember how our father’s
behaviour was, the abuses, the beating, the alcohol. I decided to live on my own
before they died. Papi ruined our life before he died. It wasn’t your fault, it was his
fault. Then, I let you down when you needed me the most, if I had stayed with you,
you wouldn’t have lived in the group homes and we would have got through this
together, but the drugs messed up my whole life and I messed up yours. I am the
one to apologise, Danny”.
 
They both remained silent for a while. Danny played with the motorbike in his
hands, with a lost look, while Rafie observed him worried. Shortly after, Sylvia
went into the room with the presents wrapped up and put them under the
Christmas Tree.
 
She approached her husband and put her hands around his neck and kissed him on
the head. “Don’t open the presents until tomorrow morning” – she warned him,
watching his eyes focusing directly on one of the packs.
“Sure, Santa Claus hasn’t come in yet, it’s... too soon for him”. Rafie said very
serious but with smiling eyes.
“Sure” - she said. “Danny, it’s late. If you want to stay, you can sleep on the couch. I
can let you have some blankets. Your friends, the men in black, have moved away”
 
“What men in black?” – Rafie asked, remembering the conversation they had at the
beginning of that evening.
 
“It’s nothing, Rafie”.
“Did you get in trouble?” – he asked again.
 
Sylvia had sat down in front of him and having his brother beside him, Danny
didn’t find a way to escape. He was tired and the emotions of the day let him in a
very vulnerable situation, so he told them all what had happened with Tom Pullman, Sandra, Guzmán,
the letters, the OPR.
 
“Damn it!” – Rafie said. “But can’t those guys to think that Pullman or Jennings,
whatever his name was, is an idiot? This is ridiculous, they are investigating you
because of things that happened a long time ago. It’s a stupid thing, Danny. I don’t
think the issue is so important to get so much vigilance”
 
“I know it, Rafie, but it’s what is happening. You heard what Sylvia said about the
game and I have even been able to prove where they have been” – Danny said.
“What about the consequences?” – Sylvia asked.
 
“I don’t... I don’t know but it could affect my boss’s career and also a coworker. It’s
my life, Sylvia, I made a lot of mistakes during my youth and I’m paying for them,
now. It’s unfair that other people are going to pay as well”.
“Come on Danny, what are you talking about?. You were a child, don’t be so cruel
with yourself. I don’t think you were so bad, I don’t think you have to pay for
anything, Danny”- Rafie said.
 
“No Rafie, I can’t justify what I did, the drinking, the stealing… there were other
children with problems like me but they didn’t get into trouble. They could have
more or less a life in the group home, it wasn’t so bad if you accepted the rules, but
I couldn’t, I liked to escape and I liked to be with Fede stealing liquor and getting
drunk. If I hadn’t been with him, now I wouldn’t be in trouble. It’s easy.”
“But, Danny, let me understand the situation. What happened was that a guy you
shared your room with, in a group home, for a couple of years, wanted to kill the
people who sent him to prison, right?”
 
“It isn’t so easy, Rafie. I spent every day with that guy, you can read it in my profile,
I was arrested with him and the Social Services have a long list of faults I
committed and most of them, Guzmán was with me. Things can be misunderstood.
They think Guzmán and I were together in this business, that we wanted money
from Tom or something, I… I don’t know what they want from me”.
 
“It’s a crazy thing, Danny. There has to be a reason, a demand or something, doesn’t
it?” – Sylvia asked.
 
“I think… it’s because Tom’s statement. He has the strange skill to make things
confused. He doesn’t make it because he’s bad, he doesn’t think what he should or
shouldn’t say, or the way he can say things. He did it before and I see he hasn’t
changed much. But, there is another theory. The OPR is always against my boss,
Jack. It isn’t the first time we get in trouble because an action, or a decision, but in
this case, everything is false and they never did an investigation like this.” – Danny
said.
“Maybe, if you talk to him…”
 
“I can’t, they could think that I’m trying to pressure him to change his statement. I
think that only Sandra can help me with this. I’ll call the Art Gallery where she
works, I don’t know if she’s still in New York or she left to London, where she
actually lives. I don’t know if I should talk to her but I can’t allow my coworkers’
careers to be ruined. It’s my problem, it’s my fault, not theirs”.
Rafie had listened to that a moment before. Danny had remained silent not
knowing where to look. His brother rubbed his back and put him close. “Eh, Danny,
calm down”- he said watching Danny’s eyes, bright with tears. Sylvia tried to hold
back her tears. She couldn’t see other people crying because she automatically
started to cry. She stood up and after kissing Rafie left the room.
 
“It’s not your fault, Danny and nobody is going to ruin their careers. The only guilty
one is Guzmán. If you want, you could find guilt in me, because I told him who you
are. Come on, Danny, calm down, bro, calm down.” – he said as Danny sobbed with
his face on Rafie’s chest.
 
It was going to be a long night. Rafie had thought, no, had dreamt that this night he
would spend with Sylvia, at home, on their bed, after a long time, feeling her,
touching her soft skin, feeling her perfume… but here he was, on the couch at the
living room trying to calm down his little brother.
Two hours later, Rafie woke up. He had a blanket covering him and Danny curled
beside him, his head on his lap. Rafie ran a hand through Danny’s hair before
moving him gently. He stood up and covered his brother with the blanket before
heading to the bedroom.
 
He went to bed and caressed Sylvia softly putting his arms around her feeling the
warmth of her skin beside him. She awoke feeling his contact and turned to him.
“He’s asleep”- Rafie said and kissed her on the forehead. “Sylvia, sometimes…
sometimes I think I don’t deserve this family. You’re… I think I’ll never thank you
enough for what you’ve done for our family, how you alone got to give our son a
good education, how you are doing with Natalie, in spite of... in spite of me”.
 
“I love you. I always trust you... well, sometimes it has been hard but, I always
knew that you had a golden heart inside of you. What you did today with Danny is
a good proof of that”.
“I love you too”- he said looking into her eyes. “Aren’t asleep, are you?” – then he
asked with a smirk.

 
Chapter 10
 
December, 25
 
“Tati...Tati... Taaatiiiiiiii!”
 
Danny awoke in a start feeling the yelling into his ears and he nearly fell off the
couch. Not completely awake, Danny sat up on the couch finding Nicky and Natalie
just in front of him. Nicky roared with laughter while Natalie tugged at Danny’s
pants. “Tati, Santa Clas, Santa Clas” – she pointed in excitement at the presents
under the Christmas Tree.
 
“What... What time is it?” – Danny asked, getting up and walking to the window.
“Six fifteen” – a sleepy Rafie muttered, getting out of the bedroom. “Come on kids,
open the presents!” – he exclaimed taking Nicky through the air, who didn’t know
whether to open the big present or the other one with a red and brilliant wrapping.
 
“I’ll make coffee” – Danny said walking to the kitchen.
A short time later, Sylvia joined him. “Morning, Danny, I’m sorry the kids woke you
up so soon” – she said, hiding a yawn.
 
Danny smiled. “Don’t worry, it’s Christmas Day”.
“Yeah, sure. Are you going to work?” – Sylvia asked.
 
“I don’t think so but you never know” – Danny said.
“But you have days off, haven’t you?” – She asked.
 
“Yes, of course”- Danny said. Today was one of those days. But he didn’t say
anything. He wanted to go to the office for a while.
“Eh, Sylvia come here to see what Santa has brought you” – they heard a voice
from the living room.
 
“I’m going!” – Sylvia said smiling to Danny.- “There is something for you, as well”-
she said before leaving the kitchen.
Danny finished making the breakfast for all of them and then stayed for a moment
leaning on the door looking at the scene. His mind took flight to a long time ago, to
Miami, to some of the first Christmas times he remembered, when he wasn’t aware
of the problems yet, when everything was happiness for him, opening his
Christmas presents under the caressing look of his mother, whom he could barely
put a face to.
 
“Uncle Danny, look, there is something for you, it’s your name” – Nicky exclaimed,
bringing him back to reality.
Danny spent an hour with them before leaving the place. He had work to do and
the men in black, as Sylvia told them, had given him a break.
 
He stopped by home to change clothes and take a shower before going to the office.
At home everything was right, he had a couple of messages from Sam and Mike, his
sponsor, that nobody had deleted it. It was getting cold so he put the scarf Sylvia

had given him as a present around his neck and the gloves, took the motorbike’s
miniature Rafie had given him and headed to the FBI’s office.
 
None of his coworkers were in the office. The team had the day off, but he wanted
to check Pullman’s file. He had hoped the agents from the OPR hadn’t carried away
everything, he would have liked to read the notebooks again but they were
missing. With a hot coffee in his hand, he sat down in the conference table with all
the files, and started to read it carefully. He read Sandra’s statement, Tom’s
statement, his own statement, the report Jack had done. It was clear that Tom’s
statement was the reason the OPR’s agents were poking their nose into their work.
He was reading Jack’s report when he felt someone approaching him.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” – Jack asked.
 
“I could ask you the same question” – Danny said.
 
Jack grimaced but he didn’t say anything. An empty house wasn’t a good place to
stay in Christmas time, and his house was full of memories of his daughters that
were living in Chicago with their mother.
 
“What are you doing?”- Jack asked instead.
“I’m checking Pullman’s case” – Danny said sighing.
 
Jack looked at him and frowned. “Viv told me what is happening” – he said in low
voice.
 
Danny smiled. “Yes, but it seems they have disappeared, there isn’t vigilance, the
computer is working well, the phone doesn’t sound ‘click’ everytime I pick it up. I
had all the messages on my phone and the door was correctly closed. Oh, there
were some brochures in my mailbox, as well. Or they have got bored or they took a
day off... it’s Christmas Day” – he said raising an eyebrow.
Jack stared at him for a second. “That Ruttland’s methods are a little hard, I would
say at the edge of the legality” – he said.
 
“He knows very well what he is doing, Jack. Actually, they can carry on their
investigation for more than a few years ago. As everything, it’s the people who
make the difference between a right or wrong use of the law” – Danny said.
 
“Have you got some conclusion from all of this?”- Jack asked.

“Well, I think the point is Tom’s statement. It’s not a surprise for me, I’m worried
about you or Vivian. I don’t want to ruin your career because of this. You took a
risk for me and I’m glad of that but...”
 
“There aren’t ‘buts’ Danny, any of us would have done whatever it was to help for
the others. You too. The situation is unfair and false. Everything will come back to
its correct place, give it time to calm down, right?”
 
“Yes, if... if I could talk to Sandra...”
 
“Danny, is Christmas Day. By the way, that miniature is new, isn’t it? – Jack said,
picking up the little motorbike.
“Yes, it’s a gift”- Danny said.
 
“It’s nice” –Jack left back and he got surprised noticing Vivian and Martin coming in
to the office.
 
“What are you both doing here?”- he asked.
“Martin has found something” – Vivian said, sat down in the conference table
beside Danny.
 
“How did you know we were here?”- Danny asked.
“I have known you a long time, Danny, don’t insult my observant capacity” – Vivian
said with a smile.
 
“Well”- Martin interrupted them anxiously – “yesterday, as you know, I travelled to
Washington to spend Christmas Eve with my family” – Martin frowned.
 
 
Flashback
 
 
Washington, december,24. 07.00pm
 
“Martin, honey”- his mother said, when she saw her son. Mrs. Fitzgerald was stylishly
dressed, ready to go to one of her charity parties, but this time, the party was at
home. Martin wasn’t surprised, his parents usually used any chance to invite people
to their home when it would further their interests.
 
“Come with me, the Hamilton’s and their wonderful daughter, Annabel will join us for
dinner. She’ll like you, she’s a nice young woman”- she said holding his arm and
guiding him to the big living room where some different voices told him that not only
the Hamilton’s were invited to the Christmas Eve family dinner.
 
Martin sighed and thought that he should have stayed in New York with his own
family, with Sam, with Danny, with Jack...even though with Vivian, if it wasn’t because
she had a wonderful family.
Martin stoically put up with hours of stupid conversations and false laughters and he
forced himself to be pleasant with that young woman, Annabel, who probably was as
sick of that as him. But he played the nice Fitzgerald that everybody expected from
him, with resignation. Well, he thought, it will be just for some hours.
 
He was sat down on a couch for a while when a conversation caught his attention. He
had got some information about Jennifer Pullman’s parents but he hadn’t gone more
deeply into it. His father and Lawrence Hamilton were talking about a Mr. Wright
being worried about a family matter. Peter Wright was coincidentally, Jen Pullman’s
father. Maybe his father knew something about him. He would ask him later.
He spent the rest of the night absorbed in that conversation, barely talking here and
there, knowing that he had to ask his father about Wright. But it seemed a
neverending party so he approached to the table where his parents animatedly
talked to other people.
“Dad” – he started.
“Eh, Martin, sit down with us. Mr. Peterson has something to tell and I’m sure is
interesting”. – his father said.
 
“Eh, good evening, Mr. Peterson” – Martin greeted. Peterson didn’t realize his
presence, he was quite drunk. “Dad, we need to talk somewhere private”.
 
“Sure, Martin, we have the whole next two days to talk” – Victor said.
“No Dad, we have to talk, and I’ll probably leave later, I have to get back to New
York”- Martin said with a serious face. He didn’t care what the others thought about
him. He guessed that what his father could know about Wright would be important
for Danny’s issue, and Danny was the most important matter for him.
 
Victor frowned but noticing the serious face of Martin, he stood up. “Of course”- he
said and after apologising, he went with his son to a quieter place of the house.
 
“What happened, Martin?” – he asked.
 
Martin sighed. He knew his father pretty well and guessed his reaction. But he had to
do it for Danny. He explained the situation the team was involved in because of
Pullman’s case. His father frowned when Martin named OPR and the agents in charge
of the investigation and was surprised, in a gesture that Martin thought it was
sincere, when he told him about the wire tapping and special vigilance on his
coworker.
“Agent Johnson wondered why this case had been caused so great stir and she
decided to investigate more deeply Pullman’s. I was starting my investigation about
Tom Pullman’s family in-law, when I listened your conversation with Lawrence
Hamilton about Peter Wright”. – Martin said.
“I hadn’t any idea about this, Martin. It’s obvious that agent Taylor shouldn’t have
worked on the case, but I don’t understand the sense of that investigation and it’s
completely unknown by my office. Ruttland is a good agent but he usually works hard
and complicated cases, not this one. Maybe you remember that net of traffic in Las
Vegas where some FBI agents got involved in” – Martin nodded – “Ruttland was the
agent in charge and thanks to his hard work, the investigation concluded with
satisfactory results... but this case, I don’t understand it. But, why di you mention
Peter Wright?”
 
“He’s Jennifer Pullman’s father”
 
End of flashback
 
 
“Well, I had a conversation with my father for approximately an hour and what I
concluded is that” – Martin paused and cleared his throat – “Peter Wright is a very
important person in the financial world, he has connections with the most high
politicians in this country and, as everything, he has to be careful with the people
around him. When his daughter, Jennifer, decided to get married with Tom
Pullman, a brilliant economist, yes, but without past, without a glamorous or wellknown
family, someone he couldn’t introduce in his particular circus, he flight into
a rage. He always wanted a sort of social position for his daughter, it’s easy to
guess it. They argued and finally Jennifer and Tom left Boston to New York where
they live.
 
Well, some weeks ago, Wright received a call from Jen, crying desperately and
telling him something about Tom and his past. When Wright knew about Tom’s
friends and what had happened he tried to dissociate Tom from... the scum,
according to Wright’s words,” – Martin clarified seing the disgusted grimace in the
others. “Well, Wright knew about Tom’s statement and he found a solution that,
having its risk of publicity and so on, it was the best way to dissociate Tom from
the rest...”
 
“Simulating a kidnapp” – Danny finished.
“Exactly, he is trying to demostrate that you and Guzmán were together and Tom is
the victim, so his reputation will be safe and nobody has to know the connection
between the three of you”.
 
“What about Sandra Fischer?”- Jack asked.
“Sandra Fischer lives in London, she has a good job and I don’t think that Peter
Wright even thought about her. It could be casual she was being kidnapped with
Tom”.
 
It made sense. It was the only that could explain in some way that so exhaustive
investigation. When Jack talked to Olczyk had thought that the OPR had dropped
the investigation so, when Vivian told him what Danny had told her about the wire
tapping and vigilance, the desappearance of the notebooks, he didn’t understand
anything. Now, he was starting to understand it.
 
“What did your father say, Martin?”- he asked.
 
“Well, he was really angry because he hadn’t been informed about OPR investigation, 
what being the Deputy Director of the FBI, these matters are on his desk, but nobody 
informed him. But, apart of that, he thought that probably it was because it wasn’t an 
important investigation and the case would be closed with an administrative note or some 
effect on Danny, which” – Martin stopped for a second – “it... it isn’t important, for him”.
They remained sat down around the conference table in complete silence. None of
them knew what to say. Jack couldn’t believe it. He was an experienced man and he
knew that he couldn’t defend Danny because it wasn’t a case what they were
investigating, it was his credibility that they were investigating and Jack was aware
that Danny’s past, his relationship with Guzmán would be a hard obstacle to get
over. Martin was ashamed about his father’s attitude and Vivian only felt for
Danny. Danny, however, felt very familiar with that. It wasn’t the first time he was
wrong lyjudged in his life, but this time was especially complicated for him because
he felt that for the first time in his life he had something to lose, his work, his
friends, his family. He had reached a point where he didn’t care what the others
could think about him. The cards were in sight but he hadn’t any capacity of play
his. He only could try to leave intact his coworkers career...
 
“At least, we know something” – he said, breaking the silence. “They are doing this
only against me. At least, this investigation won’t affect anyone else, so... I think I
am the one who should solve this”.
 
“Danny, this investigation is affecting all of us. It’s a crazy thing, we have to remain
together and you aren’t going to solve anything on your own”. – Vivian told him.
“Sure”- Danny muttered. He had picked up the scale motorbike and was playing
with it in his fingers.
 
“Well, let’s start to reread all of this. Danny, tell us everything again and we’ll
clarify some matters. We’ll find a way”- Jack said, gathering together the
documents that Danny had put on the desk and he had been studying when he
arrived.
 
Danny didn’t say anything but he was sure that everything depended on Sandra. He
had to talk to her.
They spent several hours checking all the documents and Danny replied to all their
questions, trying to pull together all the pieces of that puzzle, trying to find the only
way to be prepared for an eventual inverview, don’t make mistakes and hope that
all that nightmare finished in a dead end.
 
Vivian left the office at 13.00. She had a family and would spend the rest of the day
with them. Martin had called Sam who joined them and they went for lunch with
Danny and Jack.
It was near 18.00 when they left the office and Danny drove to Sylvia’s home. He
would take Rafie to the ferry on his back, for a short time if everything was okay, to
prison.
 
“What are you going to do, Danny?”- Rafie asked.
“I’m going to call Sandra Fischer, I think she has the key to finish this crap. We’ve
been checking all the case, all the documents, the statements. It’s everything right,
it’s... it’s just Tom”.
 
“Why should he trust his father in law if they don’t speak to each other?. Isn’t it
easier to say the truth?”
“Yes, I think so, but maybe he’s afraid that his wife will run away... maybe if she
called her father, things are changing for them, I don’t know, actually. But, I know
him and Tom doesn’t think that sometimes you can say the truth but you have to
think carefully the words you use or the consequences of those words. Sometimes
to remain silent is the best. But he says what comes to his mind not noticing the
consequences”.
 
“Why... why do you defend him?”
 
“I’m not defending him, but he helped me when we lived together. He helped me
when I was absolutely lost, he helped me to feel like a person, he kept me away
from bad influences, from drinking... he taught me how to cook!”
Rafie grimaced. The ferry was ready to leave. A hug and Rafie jumped into the boat.
Danny stayed there for a while until he couldn’t see his brother’s figure.
He turned back and headed for his car. There wasn’t anybody else around him. He
picked up the cell Jack had given that morning to him and a piece of paper where
he had written the Art Gallery’s phone number, where Sandra worked.
“Mrs. Fischer isn’t here, Mr. Taylor. She left New York two days ago. I’m sorry”.
 
“Oh well. Eh, could you tell me a phone number in London where I could find her?”
– Danny asked.
 
“Yes, of course, wait a moment, please”.
Danny waited patiently, as lightly jumped trying to keep warm. “Mr. Taylor? Take
note, please”
 
Danny wrote the number and dialled not thinking about anything else. But he cut
the call inmediately. What time was in London? He would call next early morning.
After Danny left Rafie, he came back at home with a decision in mind. He would
contact next morning with Sandra. He slept right through the night and it was the
alarm- clock that made him to get up at 7.00am. of december, 26.
He got up, took a quick shower, got dressed and left home to go at work. He felt like
he had taken a weight off his mind, like someone who knows what to do exactly. He
felt better too because, apparently, the OPR had stopped to investigate him. He
didn’t see the car and the guys following him.
When he arrived at work, Jack and Sam were already in, there was a new photo on
the whiteboard. Danny grimaced in disgust. Bad time to disappear.
 
“What have we got?” – he asked, pointing the whiteboard.
 
“Ray Osborne, 17 years old, he was with some friends yesterday evening and he
didn’t come back to his group home. The Director reported his disappearance

when one of the friends told him that he had seen Ray talking to a couple of men
and later fleeing from them”. – Sam explained him.
“This is the picture that the skecht artist has done with the description Osborne’s
friend did of the men, both white skin, around 25 years old.” – Jack handed Danny
the picture- “He’s Mario Prunell, he has got a big file of charges, nothing to do with
violent crimes. The police are looking for him but until now, we haven’t got
anything else. This one is Chris Fletcher, he has criminal records, he left prison last
august”.
 
“How was Osborne involved with those guys?” – Danny asked.
 
“His friend told us Osborne got drugs from them to share with his roomate at the
group home. He thinks Osborne owed them some money because when he saw
them, he got very nervous”.
 
Danny, sadly, was very familiarized with that. Rafie had started like this and
twenty five years later he was still fighting against the consequences of the drugs.
If he found Osborne he would like to have a conversation with him, but right now,
his position wasn’t good. He remembered he had to call Sandra. He glanced at his
wristclock. It would be noon in London, more or less.
He picked up the phone and dialled the number he had got from the Art Gallery in
New York.
 
“Hello?” – he heard a female voice at the end of the line.
“Sandra?”
 
“No, it’s Julie Newmann, one moment please. Who’s calling?” – she asked.
“Eh, it’s Danny, Danny Taylor” - he said.
 
Danny waited for a minute before hearing a voice at the end of the line.
When Julie told Sandra who was calling, she had refused to take the phone. She
didn’t want to know anything about what happened in New York, she didn’t even
tell Julie about it. She only wanted to forget everything and going on her life.
 
“Eh, Sandra, that guy is calling from New York, don’t snub him now”
Sandra was staring at Julie, but actually, she was picturing a smiling Danny
Alvarez, at 17 years old, putting his arm around her shoulders and hearing all she
was saying.
 
“Okay” – she muttered, taking the phone from Julie’s hand. She sighed and spoke
 
“Hello?”
 
“Eh, Sandra, hello, eh, sorry if I bother you, I don’t know if you have work, but... I
have to talk to you... it’s Danny”.
“Hello, Danny, no, you aren’t bothering me but I have a lot of work. What
happened?”- she said in a cold tone. It wasn’t her intention but she was very
nervous and trying to hide it from him, her voice got that bitter and cold tone.
 
“Well... I wonder if you could come back to New York. There are some problems
with Tom’s statement” – Danny said.
 
“Sandra grimaced. “Listen, Danny, I can’t go to New York again. I have my work
here... and I don’t know what more I can say, my statement is complete”
“I know that, I read it, but Tom... I’ve got in trouble because of his statement,
Sandra, there is an internal investigation and I think you can clarify things”.
 
“What things?” – she asked in surprised.
 
“I don’t know, exactly. They want to link me with Fede, making as we had planned
all of this”
Sandra remained silent for a while. She knew it was unfair but she couldn’t come
back to her past life, she couldn’t include them in her life again. “Danny, I’m sorry,
I... I can’t. Listen, I have my life here, I had a hard time trying to forget what
happened to Mrs. Oldberg, the group home and all of you, I can’t... I can’t come
back. I’m sorry, Danny, I hope you understand, I can’t go”.
 
“Sandra, please, I wouldn’t ask you this if it wasn’t important. I know how you feel,
I’m not comfortable with this but it’s really unfair, there are other people, they can
lose their jobs because of this. If you tell them....”
 
“Danny”- Sandra cut him. “Danny, I’m sorry, please, look for another way. I did my
statement and I think I was realistic and fair. I told them too that I was glad
because of what you did, I think you saved my life, I suppose they told you, but...
don’t ask me to come back. I’m sorry”.
 
“Well, right... listen, I’m so sorry to bother you”- Danny said, understanding that
Sandra wouldn’t leave London. “Eh, well, bye”.
“Bye Danny”- she said and hung up.
 
Sandra stayed with the phone in her hands thoughtful. Julie looked at her with the
question on her face. “What?” she finally asked.
 
“He wants me to come back New York. He has a problem with the case and he
wants to clarify something about Tom’s statement”.
“Well, when are you leaving?”- Julie asked.
 
“I won’t go. No, Julie, you can’t understand it. Please, don’t look at me like this, you
don’t understand, don’t judge me, please. Let’s leave it, right?”
“Okay”- Julie said in disgust.
 
“Right, where are the catalog of Velazquez’s paintings we received from Prado
Museum?” – Sandra asked, changing the subject.
Danny hung up the phone. He had tried it. He picked up the motorbike and playing
with it between his fingers started to think looking for a way to finish this, but he
only saw one way. He had to got Sandra back.
 
At that moment, Martin got his attention. “Eh, Danny, I want you to do me a favor. I
have that guy Prunell in the interrogation room, with one of the boys from the
group home. Both of them speak spanish, I think maybe they’ll say something and
give us a lead to find Osborne”.
“What do you mean?”- Danny asked, his mind still in that conversation with
Sandra.
 
“I only want you to listen to what they are saying. I don’t understand Spanish very
well. It could be important.”
“Okay. Come on”
 
Both stood up and went to the interrogation room. From the outside they looked at
the two young men. One of them was barely 15 years. The other, Prunell, around
25 years. Danny felt a knot in his stomach, there was something in their eyes, their
looks, the way to speak, their behaviour... it seemed the time didn’t pass, there
were things that always would be the same.
Martin noticed the worried and sad expression of his coworker.
“Are they saying something interesting?”- he asked.
 
But Danny asked him to be quiet. Seconds later he turned to Martin. “Prunell is
trying to convince the boy to confess to Osborne’s murder. Being under 18 and
without criminal records, could be considered as fortuitout and he won’t even go
to prison”.
“What are you talking about?”- Martin asked in surprise.
 
“It’s what Prunell is telling him. Unfortunately, it seems that Osborne is dead.
We’re looking for a body, Martin”.
 
“But, how is Prunell capable of convincing that boy to confess to a murder?”
“He is easily influenced, those kids admire the freedom, the shamelessness and the
power of that rabble. They only want to leave the group home and to conquer the
world. Most of them haven’t known anything else but this kind of people, they have
seen it in their own home” – Danny explained him without losing eye contact with
the kid.
 
“Would he go to prison for him?”
“He would become a kind of hero. You do me a favor and I’m your backup. You
know, prison can be better than that group home for him and when he gets out of
prison, Prunell will protect him. Prunell is his idol, so... it’s easy, Martin, very easy”.
 
“Well, that’s it!”- Martin said. “I’m going to go in, will you tell Jack?”
“Yeah, sure”- Danny said and he headed for Jack’s office, to tell him the news about
Osborne.
 
“Damn it!”- Jack said. “I’ve been talking to the group home’s director. Ray Osborne
was a good kid, even though he frequented bad friendships. It seems it had cost him death”.
“Yeah”- Danny muttered. “Sooner or later you have to pay the consequences of your mistakes”.
Jack stared at him and finally slighlty smiled. “Eh Danny, you aren’t thinking
about...”
 
“It’s... yes, Jack I’m thinking about that. I phoned Sandra May..., sorry, Fischer this
morning. I asked her to come back New York and help me to clarify things...”
“But... Danny, this matter is closed. You told me that you weren’t been vigilated or
followed...”
 
“I’m worried, Jack. The problem is still unsolved and they can open it again in any
time. Tom’s notebooks are missing and he had written some things that can be
taken out of context easily. Tom... it’s not his fault Jack, he always was like this, I... I
have my temper too, I know that it’s easy to step back... I don’t know, I think Sandra
could clarify this matter definitely, maybe she could talk to Tom and explain to him
that possibly his father in law is keeping him under his thumb, he hasn’t any idea
about our friendship... I have to do something, Jack”.
 
“Well, I suppose you are in your right, Danny, I can’t stop you, it’s your credibility,
you know them... When is Ms. Fischer going to come back New York?”
 
“She isn’t going to come back” – Danny shook his head – “She told me that she can’t
relive what happened, everything is over for her, she made her statement and she
doesn’t have anything else to say”.
“Well, considering that you saved her life...” – Jack started.
 
“Yes, she... she was glad of it” – Danny said in a sarcastic tone, but he regretted
inmediately. “No, Jack, I understand her, but I thought she wasn’t so much in
trouble. I mean, she lived in the group home as her home, she had strong character
and she handled her problems well, she got all the benefits of the social services...
but it’s difficult. The murder of Mrs. Oldberg was especially traumatic for her and I
think it was for Tom as well, so... I don’t blame her if she doesn’t want to come
back”.
“Well, if you say so... Anyway, it seems that everything is quiet, surely the OPR
won’t continue this investigation. The case hasn’t got out at last, I don’t think that
Tom’s father in law has interest to keep the sham”.
 
“I hope so” – Danny said. “Well, Martin is talking to Prunell trying to get more
information..”
“Yes, when you got the exact place, call me, but let Martin and Vivian take care of it,
right?”
 
“Okay”- Danny said and got out of the office.
Martin had to pressure Prunell to get his confession of the crime and tell him the
exact place where they would find Osborne’s body.
 
The group home’s director identified his body and he told them that he would talk
to social services to take care of the body. Nobody would cry over his death.
That night, Danny didn’t sleep as well as before. This case was bringing back old
painful memories of his life. He was glad to have had enough strength to not end
his life then, when he was sure that nobody would cry over his death, when he
thought it was the only way to leave behind the nightmares of a bad childhood. In
spite of all, he was happy with his current life, he knew to give value to every thing
he had got, because it had been a great effort to get it, to win the fight against the
alcohol the most, but well, here he was and he considered himself a lucky man. He
had coworkers, friends he considered his family and he felt their trust and
kindness and vice versa, in spite of that he didn’t tell them about his past. He had to
add the fact that his relationship with Rafie was on track and well, life was smiling
on him.
 
However, the vision of the body of that kid in the morgue, waiting for nobody,
plagued him all night.
 
 
Chapter 11
 
Three weeks later.
January, 16. FBI offices
 
 
“Sometimes, we have to think about what that person can lose telling the truth...
what’s it worth to her”- Sam said talking to nobody in special.
 
She had left the interrogation room where Michelle Farrell had told them a lot of
lies instead of telling them where they could find Irene Morales.
“It’s proved that Michelle was the last person to see Irene. I don’t understand what
they were doing together, they don’t share anything in common”- Martin said.
 
“Michelle is single daughter, her parents are well positioned in society, you see
how she dresses, how she walks, you can see easily what her current social

background is. Maybe... maybe she’s playing... maybe she’s testing limits with some
other group of people, maybe she’s bored with her luxury life...” – Sam commented.
 
“Sure, and she can come back to the security of home. She doesn’t care about a bit
of adventure in her life!”- Martin said.
“At least her parents know about her extra-curricular activities. If she confesses
she knows Irene and they were together the day of the disappearance, maybe she’s
taking the risk of losing what is truly important for her”- Vivian said.
 
“But the truth is that Michelle was with Irene when she disappeared, I think she
knows what Irene was involved in and I think she could help us a lot, and she
doesn’t. We are here wasting time and a girl could die if she isn’t dead yet”- Danny
said in an very bad mood, tapping the back of a pencil against his chin.
“I’ll talk to her, again” – Sam said standing up.
 
“I’ll go with you”- Vivian said.
Martin and Danny stayed in the office. Danny frowned, lost in some thought.
 
“What are you thinking?”- Martin asked.
 
“Nothing, I was thinking about what Sam said. What can be worth such a risk to a
friendship and even her life.” – Danny said.
“I don’t understand”- Martin said.
 
“Tom Pullman”- Danny slowly said.
Martin was surprised. Weeks ago they had left off talking about Pullman’s case, and
the agents of the OPR didn’t bother them anymore. He looked at Danny with a questioning face.
 
“Forget it!” –Danny said. “Well, let’s go on with this” he continued, picking up the
file he had on his desk.
 
But Danny didn’t stop thinking about that sentence. Tom had so much to lose.
Danny knew that and he felt bad for him, Tom had been a good friend when they
lived together. It could be true what Sandra said about him, that he used Danny,
but Danny didn’t care because Tom had helped him a lot during that period of his
life. He started to understand Tom’s reasons why he made that statement, but now

it was difficult to change it. Well, in any case, it had been a while since the OPR
came round there.
 
The phone rang.
“Taylor”- he answered.
 
“It’s Jack. Do you remember Mrs Henderson?” – Jack asked.
 
“What?” – Danny asked in surprise.
 
“The woman with the porcelains” – Jack said.
“Oh, yes”- Danny said not knowing what Jack was trying to say.
 
“She’s back” – Jack said and hung up.
Danny lifted his eyes to look at Jack’s office trying to know what his boss had told
him, but his eyes met other too familiar eyes.
 
“Gosh”- he muttered – “The men in black”.
 
Martin lifted his head and he saw a man in the corridor outside the office. “What
happened now?”.
 
Danny picked up the phone and started to dial, he didn’t hear the click he had so
uncomfortablely been hearing weeks ago. He tried to mentally check what he had
been doing for the last few days, but he didn’t remember anything strange.
He looked at Jack’s office, who was speaking on the phone. He saw that Jack was
arguing with someone. He saw him hanging up abruptly, quickly left the office with
a very upset face and headed for the elevators. Danny and Martin exchange a
worried look.
“Well”- Martin said- “Maybe it’s nothing”.
 
“Yeah, sure” – Danny grimaced.
 
“You don’t have anything to be worried about, nothing has been done wrong for
the last weeks, they have got nothing against Jack, against you, against any of us”-
Martin said.
Danny frowned.
 
“What?” – Martin asked.
 
“I was talking to Sandra Fischer, trying to convince her to clarify Tom’s statement,
to come back New York”- Danny said.
 
“Well, but it’s legal, isn’t it? It’s normal to try to find a defense, I would say”- Martin
said.
 
“Yeah, a federal agent involved in a case calling one of the victims to change a
statement. So normal... so stupid!” – Danny said clenching his fists.
Martin didn’t say anything. It was everything so coincidental... “maybe we are
drawing hasty conclusions. Let’s wait for Jack tell us what is happening”
 
“No, I’m not going to wait”- Danny said standing up. He had seen as Vivian, who
was getting out of the interrogation room with Sam, was stopped by an agent and
how she was going with him to the elevator. He couldn’t allow Jack’s career or
Vivian’s career to be ruined by him. He had to act and he was going to do it, he
didn’t care about the consequences if he saved their jobs.
 
“Danny, what are you doing?” – Martin asked, watching as Danny took his jacket.
But Danny didn’t reply. “Wait Danny, I’m going with you”- Martin said, not knowing
what his coworker was going to do.
“No Martin, it’s my business, not yours”- Danny stopped him.
 
“Danny, don’t do anything stupid” – Martin warned him.
 
Danny smiled. “Don’t worry, Martin, I’ll be fine. It doesn’t matter what I do, I’m not
going to put Jack or Vivian at risk because of my problem.. and I’m going to solve
it”.
 
Martin watched his friend leaving the office.
 
Danny left the building driving his car and he saw how another car was following
him. They didn’t hide from him, surely they were trying to make him nervous to
make a mistake and give them a reason to arrest him. It was a nice day, the blue
sky, there wasn’t snow on the pavement... Danny smiled as he headed for a garage
in Queens, near home. He slowly entered in the garage and parked his car. He got
out and opening the trunk he took his gloves, a coat and his helmet. Beside the car
was his little treasure, his motorbike that he used to drive on weekends or free
days through the roads. It was very similar to the miniature Rafie had given him on

Christmas Eve, and he could easily sort the obstacles of the New York traffic and
with a bit of luck, defeat his... bodyguards.
Five minutes later, he left the garage, passing beside the other car but they didn’t
realize it was him, and stayed there waiting for Danny. He quickly went at home,
where he got out a bag that was under the bed. Old habits from group homes he
hadn’t lost and maybe it would help him now... well, everything depended on
Sandra. He looked at the time, it was 5.00 pm. He got some money out of the bag -
another old habit, - keep some money at home, you don’t know when you’ll need it and
some clothes to change. Then, he switched on his laptop and connected to
internet to find a flight. He was lucky, in a couple of hours there was a flight
between La Guardia Airport and Gatwick. He could buy the ticket from his laptop
but maybe it was tapped. He left home, took the motorbike and drove to the
airport. If the plane left New York at 19.30, he would arrive in London seven hours
later, plus the difference in time, so it would be around eight in the morning. He
had to convince Sandra to come back with him, he had to stop the OPR from ruining Jack
and Vivian’s jobs.
 
Jack had received a call from Supervisor Alexander Olczyk. When he came into his
office, Olczyk was standing up beside the door and on his usual chair was seated
special agent Robert Ruttland. On the desk there were some files. Jack couldn’t
identify them at first.
 
“Sit down, please, agent Malone” – Ruttland said coldly.
Jack sat down without a word.
 
“We have recent information about agent Taylor’s activities” – Ruttland said.
Jack looked at him but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t know what Ruttland could
have got.
 
“Are you informed about the conversation between agent Taylor and Ms. Fischer,
victim and witness of the case we are investigating, the last december, 26?”- he
asked.
 
“I know agent Taylor phoned Ms. Fischer, yes. He told me about it”- Jack said. It
was fruitless to deny it. In any case, the OPR had continued with the investigation
even though they didn’t notice it.
“Do you know what that conversation was about?” – Ruttland asked again.
“You tell me”- Jack replied in a defiant tone.
 
“You don’t know” – he muttered writing something. At that moment his cell started
to ring.
 
“Ruttland”- he said. “Uhm,... well,... yes, it’s okay now, ...no problem. Uhm, eh, I need
agent Taylor here as well... What?. Well, that isn’t a surprise anyway. Continue with
your work”.
“Well, it seems that your agent is... missing”- Ruttland said, shaking his head. “This
fact doesn’t make him so innocent, I would say”.
 
Before Jack could reply, someone knocked on the door and opening it, special agent
John Philips came in with Vivian.
“Sit down, please, agent Johnson”- Ruttland said in the same cold tone he used with
Jack before.
 
Vivian sat down, glancing at Jack, before focusing her attention on Ruttland and the
papers he had in front of him.
 
“Agent Johnson, you’ve got a brilliant career, you’re the envy of your department,
aren’t you?” – Ruttland said. “Oh, sorry, I’m special agent Robert Ruttland” –he said
handing his hand.
 
Vivian shook the hand she was offered. “Thanks, but I’m doing my work, just that”
– she replied.
 
“Yes, sure... that’s the reason because I don’t understand why are you putting in
risk your career in the FBI, helping a coworker whose file is plagued with
incidents...”
“You answered for me”- she interrupted him. “He’s my coworker”.
 
“Yeah, yeah, well it’s that philosophy about the team spirit, the ‘I’m your backup’,
and so on, but... agent Johnson”- he said leaning forward – “do you realize what you
are putting at risk? I guess you have a family, I guess your husband doesn’t have a
stable job...”
 
“Have you been investigating me, agent Ruttland?”- she asked.
“You didn’t give me any other alternative, agent Johnson”- Ruttland said, taking a
folder. He opened it and took out Tom Pullman’s notebooks. “Can you explain to
me why those notebooks were in your home, agent Johnson?”
 
“I thought it was the best place to keep them away from you” – She said coldly.
“They are evidence in a case”- Ruttland said.
 
“No, they aren’t, those notebooks don’t tell anything about this case”- Vivian
defended her position.
 
“I read about the friendship between Federico Guzmán and your... coworker”-
Ruttland said.
 
“You can read about the friendship between Federico Guzmán, my coworker and
Tom Pullman, as well. In fact, Tom wrote it, as you know”- Vivian said.
“Exactly. Agent Taylor was very interested in those notebooks, wasn’t he?. Maybe
there is something in it to use against Mr. Pullman, don’t you guess? Mr. Pullman
has a certain reputation and he is linked to well considered families of this
country”.
“You’re very wrong”- Vivian said. “If Dan... if agent Taylor wanted those notebooks
it was to give back to Tom. It’s a private document of Mr. Pullman and they should
be in the right hands”.
 
“I see”
“You can ask him if you want”- She continued, frowning when she saw Jack closing
his eyes.
 
“Sadly, agent Johnson, agent Taylor is missing and we can’t find him, right now.
Maybe, if you call him...” – Ruttland said pushing the phone to her.
 
“I don’t understand what are you looking for”- she said without touching the
phone.
 
“As I told agent Malone weeks ago, we are investigating agent Taylor as a result of
Mr. Pullman’s statement and Ms. Fischer’s statement, about the attempt of kidnapp
and blackmailing on the person of Mr. Thomas Pullman”.
“Didn’t you consider agent Taylor’s statement?”- she asked.
 
“No, it’s irrelevant, he is our main suspect, once Mr. Guzmán is dead. I’m sorry to
tell you, agent Johnson, agent Malone, but I guess you’re getting in trouble trying to
help a delinquent”.
Danny got a plane ticket for the flight to London at 19.00. As he waited to get on
board, he bought some caramels and a puzzle magazine. He never had done any
long travel and planes didn’t inspire any trust. Sometimes he had dreamt of being
in a plane and crash. He would rather ignore the situation. Maybe he would get
some sleep. In fact, sleeping would be great. He didn’t want to stay in London more
time than necessary and the time difference would leave him exhausted. He looked
around looking for some of the agents of the OPR but he didn’t see anyone else but
people waiting for a plane. He picked up a magazine and glanced at it as he waited.
 
 
 
London, january, 17.
10.15 am. Art Gallery
 
 
“Hello, I’m Danny Taylor, I would like to talk to Ms. Sandra Fischer, please” – Danny
said to the receptionist of the gallery with a smile.
 
Danny had arrived earlier and he had gotten a room in a hotel near the airport.
After leaving his bag, taking a shower and shave, he headed to the Art Gallery”.
“Mr. Taylor, you can go up, take those stairs. It’s in the first floor. You’ll see her
name outside her office”.
 
“Thank you”- Danny said and walked towards the stairs.
 
Before knocking on the door, he closed his eyes. This was his only hope, if Sandra
doesn’t help him, he would lose his job, for sure. Taking control of his nerves, he
knocked on the door and after he heard “come in”, he entered.
“Hi, I’m Julie Newmann, Sandra coworker. She has gone to pick up some things, but
she’ll be here in a moment. She’ll get a surprise”- Julie said, looking at Danny up
and down without any scruple. “Oh, the receptionist called to say you were on your
way”. Of course, Sandra didn’t tell her about him being attractive.
 
“Oh, I thought she...” Danny started, in surprise.
“I know who are you. Sandra told me what happened in New York the last month.
She isn’t coping with that very well, I think it brings her bad memories”.
“I understand” – Danny muttered.
 
“What are you doing in London?” – she asked with curiousity.
 
“I need to talk to her.. I need to come back New York with her”. – Danny explained
her.
 
“She doesn’t want to go, she’s so stubborn, she doesn’t want to know anything else
about that matter... well, at least, it’s what she said, but I’m not absolutely sure” –
Julie said. “Maybe being you here...”
At that moment the door was opened, and Sandra Fischer came in the office with a
lot of paper tubes just to fall down. She dropped them on a chair and when, finally,
she lifted the head, froze.
 
“What... what are you doing here?”- She exclamed.
 
“I need to talk to you” – Danny said.
“No...”. Sandra stared at him. “Have you come here in... a plane?”.
“Yeah, sure”- he said smiling. Sandra knew what he hated to take a plane.
 
“Gosh, eh... Julie, do you mind to carrying this to the archive and put it in order?. I
know it isn’t your work but...”
 
“Don’t worry”- Julie said, taking the hint. When she passed beside Danny she
whispered “good luck” – making Danny smile and Sandra frown.
When Julie closed the door, Sandra faced Danny. “I think I left you pretty clear that
I won’t change my statement”.
 
“I don’t want you to change your statement, Sandra. I want, I would like you to
clarify Tom’s statement”.
 
“Danny, you have to understand, this is painful for me. I loved Mrs. Oldberg so
much, that was terrible, I spent a lot of years and a lot of effort trying to forget,
trying to live without the nightmares that plagued my dreams. Seeing you again is
like live it again, and after all what happened recently...”
“I understand what you mean, Sandra. It’s difficult for me, as well, it’s taken a lot to
get where I am, always trying to hide the things I did and I’m not proud of it. I
know that Tom is going through a bad moment too, but...”
“Why is he doing this against you?” – Sandra asked.
 
“I don’t know, well, I’ve been thinking about it and I think he isn’t doing against me
by himself, or maybe, the people he had a relationship with in the past.”
 
“Oh”- Sandra said in disgust. “I liked Tom, he was different. Do you remember his
first day at the center? I thought he was dressed in First Communion. You both ran
a friendship quickly... do you know that he has a son named Daniel? He told me
that he had put him that name because of you. He was so scared that first day...
 
“Yeah, he was a good kid, a bit strange but he had a noble heart”- Danny said.
“He got you to move away from Fede, you didn’t get in trouble so frequently
staying with Tom. Is it the problem? Is this about your relation with Fede?”- she
asked.
 
“It looks like that, it’s easy to know it, if you ask for a file about him at social service
in Miami, they will see my name beside his, several times”.
 
“But you only stole alcohol” – she said. “It was... it was only for you”. They had sat
down on a comfortable couch in her office and she started to feel very well. Chating
with Danny about the old times was closing old wounds, not opening them.
“Yeah, it was only for me. But Fede helped me to get it… we shared it… until he
started to use drugs. I never wanted to use drugs and I didn’t want to start just
because Fede was using”.
 
“ Because of what happened to your brother?” – she said.
“Yes, how do you know that?” – he asked.
 
“Tom told me that. He was scared through hell with your nightmares and things
you told him. He thought you were different. The smart boy breaking the rules, and
making jokes about everybody. But later, he learnt how you were, he knew that
you were different to Fede, and Fede was hurting you, so, as he felt protection from
you, he wanted to help you”.
 
“Did he tell you?” – Danny frowned.
 
“I wanted him… we talked… a lot, about future, about him, about me, about our
families… he told me how he found you under the stairs and understood why you
drank so much”
Danny remembered the notebooks. “Yes, I… read something about that in one of
his notebooks”.
“What happened, I mean, you were working the case… how did you find us?” –
Sandra asked.
 
Danny told her how he had received a call from his boss, he went to Tom’s home,
he found the notebooks, then Fede’s note…
She touched gently his arm. “You know… you know that I owe you my life, don’t
you?” –she said almost in a whisper.
 
“No, Sandra, you don’t owe me anything. I was doing my work and… actually, I’m
not very proud of it. I think I didn’t help. I had to stay out of the case, but I went to
that damn building and I fell into his trap.” – he said sadly.
The remained silent for a while until Danny broke the silence.
 
“Then, you fell in love with Tom?”
 
“Yes, Theresa and I spent hours of discussions about that. She wanted you and I
couldn’t understand how she liked a boy that was always drunk. She told me ‘you
haven’t seen his eyes’, ‘you don’t notice his smile’, ‘you don’t understand how
smart he is’. She made me crazy. Then, later… I fell in love… with you. But it was
too late”.
“I’m sorry, Sandra, I’m really sorry. You wouldn’t have been in that room, if you
hadn’t stayed with me that day, if you had gone to school, nothing would have
happened to you…”
 
“I know but I wanted to stay with my best friends, making plans for the future, for
the first time in our life… Tom and his damn wish, the house with a garden…”
“And a family” – he finished.
 
“Yes, a family”- she said. “Tom got everything, his wish, his house with a garden
and his family. What did you get?”
 
“Well, I haven’t a house with garden, but I love my tiny apartment, I love my work,
my coworkers are my friends and family and… I’ve found my brother Rafie and his
family is… like mine, as well”.
 
“What about the drink?”
 
“No drinks, I went to Law School and when I finished I studied hard to pass the
BAR exam, but I had an accident with my car, I was a bit drunk and I almost lost
everything I had got. I understood then that I had to do something with my life, I
couldn’t risk the little things I had got with so much effort, and the alcohol didn’t
have the same effect on me. I decided my life had to change, I started to go to AA’s
meetings and wrote an application for FBI… and here I am. It’s simple.”
 
“Anything but simple, Danny” – she said.
 
“How are you living in London?”
 
“I came here to study for my Master’s. I graduated in Art History in Ohio and I got
this chance to stay in London for three month, but then I got the job in the Art
Gallery and I stayed. I didn’t leave anything in the States and… here I got my home
with a garden, well, actually, it’s a big park in front of my window, it’s really nice”.
Sandra smiled and looked at him in a way he remembered so well from old times.
He gently pushed a lock of hair off her face and kissed her on her cheek.
“Oh my god, Danny, how much time has gone by ”- she muttered, as she let a tear
roll down her cheek.
 
“Yes, a long time” – he said as stared at her and wipped the tear off her cheek. She
took his hand as he caressed her neck and pulled close to him. For a moment they
stared at each other and Danny softly kissed on her lips. Sandra felt a shiver, closed
her eyes and remembered his look a long time ago, when he embraced her at the
entrance of the Institute that day she fell in love with him and how the same feeling
came to her with the same intensity.
 
At that moment the door was opened and both of them pulled away sharply.
However, Julie Newmann came into with a smirk on her face. She had seen them,
she knew that Sandra couldn’t let him escape, it was impossible.
 
“Julie”- Sandra called her attention.
 
“Tell me, darling”- she exclaimed falling exaggeratedly on her comfortable chair
behind the desk and the smirk firmly planted on her face.
 
“Would you mind...” – Sandra started.
 
“Of course”- she interrupted her with a open smile. “How much time are you going
to stay in New York?”
 
Danny smiled. He didn’t know if Sandra would go to New York with him, but it
looked like her friend Julie was willing to help her make that decision.
 
“Eh... no... I don’t know. One or two weeks. Do you think it’s okay?”
 
“Uhm... I think that it’s a short time, but well, two or three weeks is okay”- Julie
replied with the best of her smiles.
 
Jack and Vivian left Olczyk’s office not knowing what to think. It was unreal, they
didn’t know why the OPR was so interested in destroying Danny’s career, no, Danny’s life,
and theirs had been put in question marks too. Jack picked up the cell and called Martin.
 
“Jack, what’s happening?”- Martin asked.
 
“Where’s Danny?”- Jack asked plainly.
 
“I don’t... I don’t know, he saw you leaving your office, he was worried. He told me
that maybe it was because he had contacted with that woman, Fischer. He said that he couldn’t
wait anymore and left”.
 
“Shit!” – Jack muttered. “Thanks, Martin”.
 
Jack closed the cell and looked at Vivian who was trying to contact Danny. With the
cell on her ear she shook her head.
 
“Nothing, Jack, he doesn’t answer at home and his cell is off. Where is he? I don’t
guess this situation helps him in any way. Jack, I don’t want him to get in trouble” –
she said. Vivian was really worried about him. She was deeply proud about what
he had got in his life, because she knew about the difficulties he had had. She knew
about his sense of justice, about his sense of taking care of other people while
letting himself fall apart. She knew that if this was affecting him it was not only
because of his past being put on the table but because the careers of other people
could be affected, her career and Jack’s.
 
Next morning it was like a nightmare for all of them worried about his coworker
and not knowing if they had to inform about his disappearance and open a missing
report or wait, begging he didn’t do anything wrong, begging that he came in the
office with a good excuse.
 
It was 10.30 am and they didn’t know anything about Danny.
 
“I can’t wait anymore” – Sam muttered. “Martin, what were you talking about?”
 
“Danny was worried because it seemed like the OPR was investigating again. He
thought that it could be because he had phoned Sandra Fischer to convince her to
come back New York and clarify what had happened. Danny is absolutely sure that
she can help him”- Martin explained.
 
“I know that it could be strange, especially speaking of Danny, but... what if he went
to London?” – she asked.
 
“London?” – Martin and Vivian exclamed at the same time.
 
But Sam was already typing the keyboard looking for the information.
“Yep, here it is. He took a direct flight to Gatwick from La Guardia, yesterday at
19.00. Danny is in London”.
 
“I’ll call Ms. Fischer’s work and I’ll try to find him there”- Jack said, looking his
watch. “How he can be so stupid, I told him to be careful, to do nothing that could
be damaging”
 
“Mrs. Fischer isn’t at work”- he was told when he contact the Art Gallery in London.
 
“Listen, it’s really important to find her” – Jack explained. “Would you mind to tell
me her phone number at home, or her cell, please?”
 
“Yes, sure. Wait a second...”
 
Jack got the number and dialled her home’s number.
 
At Julie and Sandra’s home, Danny waited impatiently watching Sandra going and
coming, taking some clothes and putting them quickly into her bag.
 
"Wait, I have... I have to look for something”- she said and disappeared in her
bedroom. Danny looked impatiently his watch. “It’s getting late”.
 
“Don’t worry, the connection with Gatwick is good from here. We’ll reach the
airport in time” – she said since the bedroom.
 
The phone started to ring. “Damn it..” Sandra said, walking to the phone. The
number on the digital screen wasn’t familiar to her. “It’s nobody, I’m not
interested. I’m not at home”- she said coming back to the bedroom.
 
“Ah, good, here they are!”- she exclamed. She left the room with a little bag that put
into the bag and closed it. “I’m ready. Let’s go to New York!”.
Jack hung up. Nobody answered the call. If Danny was with Sandra Fischer in
London... but, what the hell was the guy doing! He rubbed his hand over his face, in
a worried way.
 
“Hey, wait a moment, look at this”. Sam suddenly said. “Well, it looks he’s coming
back. He had bought a plane ticket to leave London at 20.00... what that’s... at 15.00
here... He’ll be here at 22.00”.
“Is he coming back alone or with someone else?” – Jack asked.
 
Sam typed Sandra Fisher’s name, understanding what Jack was asking. “She is coming back as well”
“Fine” – Vivian said. “Let’s hope he is right and that woman can help him, I don’t
think he has been very intelligent doing this”.
 
An agent headed for John Philip, from the OPR with a list in his hand. Philip took a
quick glance and shook his head. Then, he picked up the phone and called his coworker, Robert Ruttland.
“We’ve got him” – he said.
 
It was 22.00 in New York when Danny and Sandra left the passenger international terminal of the Airport
 when Sandra stopped.
 
“Wait a moment, Danny. I’m going to send a message to Julie telling her that we’re
okay” – she said typing on her cell.
Danny walked some steps ahead and didn’t notice two men approaching to him
quickly.
 
“Special agent Taylor?” – one of them asked as clearly he felt his own space
invaded.
“Yes... what... what’s this?” – Danny asked in confuse.
 
“FBI, please come with us” – the agent said, grabbing his arm.
“Eh, wait a moment, are you arresting me?”
 
“No, you aren’t under arrest but it should be better if you come with us...voluntarily” 
the other man said coldly.
 
Danny looked back to Sandra who had froze with her cell in the hand and the two
bags of them on the floor beside her. She stayed there looking at that people taking
out Danny.
Sandra spent a moment to recovering from the scare. She didn’t know what to do,
he had expected to stay at Danny’s home but now... Looking at her watch she saw it
was late but she had to tried it. She pulled out her little address book and looked
for the hotel where she usually stayed. Fortunately, there was a room for her. She
picked up the bags and left the airport, to take a cab.
What she could do? She was worried about Danny, she didn’t know where he had
been carried out and she didn’t know what to do... but suddenly she remembered
Danny’s boss. Looking at her addresss book she found Jack Malone’s number. Not
noticing the time, she dialled.
 
“Malone”
“Agent Malone? It’s... it’s Sandra Fischer, I don’t know if you remember me”
 
“Yes, I remember you. Is agent Taylor with you?”
“Eh... he was. It’s because I’m calling you. I don’t know but two men have taken him
out the airport. They looked to be FBI’s agents. I don’t know anything else”.
 
“Where are you?”
“I’m on my way to the hotel, leaving the Airport. Listen, there is something I have
to talk to you. I have to go to the hotel to leave my things, but I would like to talk to
you, I think there is a terrible confusion”. She said. She was tired but she needed to
know about Danny, she needed to know he was okay”
 
“Well” – Jack said. “let me have your address and I’ll go to the hotel”.
When Jack arrived at the hotel where Sandra stayed, he had to wait twenty minutes to see her 
coming into the hotel with a bag in each hand.
 
“Ms. Fischer”
“Agent Malone, I’m sorry... the traffic... do you know about Danny?” – she asked
immediately.
 
Jack noticed immediately the different behaviour of Sandra. He remembered the
day they were found and how Tom or Sandra didn’t asked about the others. “Yes,
well, eh... I don’t know what he has told you but right now his situation is
complicated”.
“He didn’t do anything wrong, this is pure speculation, coincidence, nothing else”-
she said.
 
“I know, but there is an investigation and leaving the country it isn’t a brilliant
idea”.
“Is he under arrest?” – Sandra asked.
 
Jack nodded. “He is being interviewed. Let’s see what happen. Surely, he is going to
need a good lawyer to get out of this situation”- Jack said seriously.
“No” – she said firmly. “They won’t go so far. If you see him, let him to know that
I’m going to talk to Tom tomorrow morning and we’ll go to clarify this matter.”
“Talking to Tom... I see you’re familiarized with the situation” – Jack said. “Why do
you think he’s doing this, I mean, Tom Pullman?. I could read some of his notes and
Tom appreciated Danny”.
 
“Tom was a weak boy and he didn’t know how to manage in the world alone.
Danny was the smart boy, he knew how to live at the streets, he knew how to do to
get what he needed, but what he needed the most, the comprehension and
kindness didn’t bring to him. Tom used him while he lived at the group home and
Danny let him because he got that comprehension and quiet he was needing
urgently”.
 
“Do you think that Tom can be influenced by somebody?”
“Maybe, I don’t know really, he had the strange hability to make things
complicated. He isn’t prudent, there are things you can’t say because it can be
picking out of context and be misunderstood, but Tom doesn’t realize that. When
we lived at the group home, it happened several times, when Danny came back late
at home because he stayed with me in a bad day, and it happened again with Mrs.
Oldberg’s murder. Mrs. Oldberg was fat enough to be joked about by the kids,
especially Fede and Danny. Sometimes Danny saw Fede with a knife and he said
something about stabbing her, Danny started to laugh and he said it would be
funny to see how she deflated like a tire. When Fede stabbed Mrs. Oldberg, he was
under drugs effects and started to yell at Danny something like... are you seing it,
Danny, she is deflating.... I, I didn’t say anything about it on the trial it was silly
thing, Danny wouldn’t hurt anybody, he only got hurt himself over and over but he
had... he has a sweet heart. Tom didn’t see the anger of the words and wrote that
sentence in his statement and confirmed on the trial.Fortunately, the case was clear,
but look like right now, almost 20 years later, that silly thing can be connected with other 
things and create all this problem”.
 
“Are you going to talk to him?”- Jack asked.
“Sure, it’s the first thing I’m going to do tomorrow morning. Agent Malone, Tom is a
good person and he loves Danny, he always loved him. I know that because he told
me; one of his sons is called Daniel, as Danny. It was something he said a long time
ago, one day we spent the day together at home talking about what we wanted to
do in our lifes. That it means something, doesn’t it?” – she said.
“Mrs. Pullman told me that her husband always wanted to name Daniel to one of
his sons and she guessed it was because of Danny, but then Tom told me it wasn’t
like that”- Jack said, a bit confused.
 
“I don’t understand, he was the one who told me that while we stayed in that
apartment. He hadn’t any reason to lie”. – she said frowning.
“Danny was sure you can help him, Ms. Fischer. I hope he was right” – Jack said.
“Eh, I have to leave you, I’m going to come back to the office, I think it will be a long
night”.
“Alright, tomorrow morning I’ll try to convince Tom and I’ll try to convince that
agents that they are wrong, agent Malone”- Sandra said slighlty smiling.
 
“I know that this is hard for all of you, Danny told me. What you are doing is noble,
Ms. Fischer”- Jack said.
“Danny... he went to talk to me... to London. If he hadn’t done that, probably I
wouldn’t have come back. I think Danny is right, he didn’t make a mistake taking a
plane to London, I think it was his only chance. He had phoned me before and I
closed all the doors, so maybe it’s my fault what he did” – she said.
 
 
Chapter 12
 
New York. 07.30 next morning.
 
“Could you give me a phone book?”- Sandra asked the receptionist.
 
“Yes, sure Ms. Fischer. You’ve come back soon this time”- he said.
“Yes” she said distractely looking through the list. There were several Pullmans,
but only two whose first names started with “T”. She should find out who was the
T. Pullman that she was looking for. She didn’t want to call him, she wanted to go
to his home.
 
She headed for a phone booth beside the reception area and dialled one of the
numbers.
“Hello?”
 
“Mr. Thomas Pullman, please?”
“No, sorry”
 
“Well, I’m sorry I’ve got the wrong number”.
Well, that wasn’t her T. Pullman. She took a little notebook out of her handbag and
wrote the address of the other T. Pullman from the phone list.
It was 8.30 when Sandra got out of the cab. Now that she was in front of Tom’s
home, she was getting nervous. She didn’t know what to tell him, she didn’t know

what would be his reaction. Well, it’s easy, she encouraged herself as headed for
the door.
 
Sandra pushed the doorbell and a minute later, the door was opened.
“Hello, eh... are you Mrs. Pullman?”- Sandra asked.
 
“Yes, what do you want?”- a sleepy Jen Pullman asked. She didn’t understand why
there was someone at the door at 8 in the morning. It was Saturday, none of them
were working and only the kids were awake and watching the tv.
“Hi, my name is Sandra, Sandra Fischer... eh, I’m not sure if this is the right address.
I’m looking for Thomas Pullman.”
 
Sandra thought that Mrs. Pullman was going to slam the door because of her upset
expression. But she didn’t.
“No, you’re not wrong, but what do you want from him?”. – she asked.
 
“I’m an old friend from Miami, I have something important to tell him”
“Okay, come in, please. I’ll call him” – Jen Pullman said.
 
Sandra entered the house, which was very nicely furnished. She went with Mrs.
Pullman to the living room where she stayed waiting for Tom. She glanced at the
pictures of the family, the kids, Tom, unrecognizable with a beard, pictures of a
family in a house with garden. A dream come true.
“Sandra” – she heard at her back. She turned and met Tom at the door of the living
room, looking at her with surprise. “What... what are you doing here?”
 
“I’m here to talk to you, Tom”- she said. “Is there any place where we can talk
privately?”
“Let’s go out”- he said.
 
The weather was pleasant and inviting enough to go for a walk.
“Tom, Danny is in trouble”
 
“I know”- he muttered.
“Sure you know. What happened? What did you say? Danny told me that there are
problems with your statement” – Sandra pressured him.
 
Tom remained silent, moving a bit of fallen leaves with his foot. Sandra grabbed his
arm. “Tom, listen, Danny can lose his job because of this and not only him, his boss
and a coworker are in trouble as well. We have... you have to help him”.
“It’s a very difficult situation for me, Sandra”- Tom said avoiding her eyes.
“Tom, why do you say that? Danny did his work. He saved our lifes. He has nothing
to do with what happened. What the hell did you tell them, Tom?” – Sandra
insisted.
 
“You don’t understand” – he said.
“Tom, it’s me, Sandra, this is not about I understand or not, this is about Danny,
about his life and his work. All of this is hurting him... you know how he hates to fly
and he went to London to ask me for help. Tom, I’ve got this for you, I want you to
read it” – she said taking out of her bag five notebooks similars to Tom’s
notebooks.
 
“You told me that you had thrown them away”- Tom said taking the notebooks.
“They aren’t mine”- she said. “They are Danny’s. Yes, I took them before we left the
group home. I wanted to have something from him, and it was the only thing that I
found. He didn’t miss them. They aren’t complete, you know he wasn’t always was
ready for it, but when he wrote something... you can find very interesting things,
especially about you, Tom”.
 
Tom glanced at the notebooks, some of the sheets were blank, others with some
words written, and the last part was more coherent texts with a terrible
handwriting, where he could read some sentences. Memories of the past came into
his mind, a lot of forgotten experiences, some of them hidden in the deepest
recesses of his heart. It was unfair what he did, it was unfair to Danny, to Sandra, to
himself, but he was scared to lose what he had, he was scared to be alone, again.
“When I was at the hospital, I told Jen what happened at the group home, the
connection between us and the reason for that. I never had told her about those
years, it was hard enough to go ahead with our marriage because her parents
didn’t accept me”
 
Tom was talking as looked at the notebooks. Finally, he closed them and handed
back to Sandra. They were in a little park near his house and sat down on a bench.
Sandra affectionately took his hand because she knew it was difficult for Tom to
clarify his feelings, bringing out from the bottom of his heart what they had

suffered through for the 10 months they had spent together. He hadn’t changed so
much, she couldn’t blame him for wishing to be happy.
“Sandra, try to undersand me, Jen, the kids, my work, my life, it’s all I have, it’s all
I’ve got and I don’t want to lose it. I know what it means to be alone and have
nobody love you, you know as well, and Danny too. The day I found Fede... my life
was becoming a nonsensical, stupid routine, I needed to regain my life and my
family, to feel every little detail and enjoy it. Fede made me work in a second. He
made me see the luck I had with Jen and the kids” Tom paused before continuing.
 
“You should have to see Jen’s expression when I told her. I wasn’t ready for her
reaction. She always respected my silence about my past, but when I saw her
expression, I swear to you, Sandra, I felt like my life was being destroyed, I felt
completely lost. I don’t know if it was her reaction or the medication or what but I
started to think that Danny was involved in it and when the FBI asked me, my
suspicions were so real. Danny and Fede were so close, they were friends for a long
time...”
“Until you arrived at the home”. – Sandra pointed.
 
“Yes, until I arrived. But you have to understand, Danny is an FBI agent, he had
access to our identities, he could know our addresses, where we work, all the
information that Fede had got and surely he didn’t get it by himself. The thought of
a kidnapping, that something happened between them because they fought, only
the two needles, the note Danny didn’t receive...”
“Fede sent Danny a note but Danny didn’t go home and didn’t see it, Tom. Fede told
us how he found out about us reading the newspaper. It wasn’t difficult, he had our
names and the places where we work. Once he was out of prison it was easy to
follow us. You have invented a whole movie... why? For what, Tom?”
 
“I don’t want to lose Jen... I thought that if I linked them and it seemed like a
kidnapping, I would stay out of it. She, oh my god, Sandra she called her father!” –
he sobbed – “do you know who is he? She didn’t call him since we got married and
she called him because she was scared of me. Her father is a very important
business man and he convinced me. If it was known that his daughter was married
to a guy with such a doubtful past...”
Sandra couldn’t help but laugh.
 
“What are you laughing about?”
“It’s your imagination, Tom... you’re great, boy... what doubtful past? What are you
ashamed about? Is it because your parents, the group home, your friends?. Tom,
you have fallen into his trap, do you realize that? It’s your life, Tom. I’ll tell you one
thing and I know it hurts but if your wife doesn’t love you because of what you are,
if you aren’t able to trust her with your life, it’s not worth you staying with her.
You’ll be miserable all of your life, you’re telling lies to yourself. You’ll always be
the Tom Jennings of that group home and you’ll be alone even though you have a
family and a house with garden. Can you understand that, Tom?” – she said.
Tom remained silent. Sandra saw him standing up and walking through the park,
with his head down, thoughtful. She started to get desperate, she thought about
Danny being interrogated all night and felt sick. She had touched Tom’s feelings
but she didn’t know if he would change his statement.
 
About ten minutes later, Tom came back and stopped in front of her. “I’ll talk to my wife. 
Where’s Danny?”. He asked. Then, Sandra knew she had gotten to him.
Danny spent all the night in the interview room, with Robert Ruttland. When he
arrived, Jack was waiting him at the corridor.
 
“What the hell have you done, Danny, what were you thinking about?” – he whispered trying 
to stop the feelings to yell at him.
 
“I had to try it, Jack, it was the only way”- Danny said quietly.
He was tired, he had flown twice in 24 hours and he only wanted to rest, but he
was furious because of what had happened. He wasn’t willing to give in, no way.
 
“Come on, agent Taylor”- one of the agents told him, opening a door beside them.
“You can’t enter”- he told Jack.
 
“Agent Taylor isn’t under arrest, there isn’t any reason...” – Jack protested.
“Leave things as they are, Jack”- Danny said. “It will be better like this”.
Danny tried to keep calm, putting in order his thoughts. He didn’t want to see Jack
in front of him during the interview, he had to force himself to defend his position
against Ruttland, he needed to concentrate in it putting his ideas in order and
being clear in his replies. He put his elbows on the table and hid his face in his
hands, closing his eyes. In a way he was glad that he finally had the chance to say
something in his defense. Knowing Sandra was there, things should be easier the
next day.
 
“Good night, agent Taylor” – Robert Ruttland, getting into the room with a coffee
glass. “You are making us to work hard”.
He left a thick folder on the desk, he slowly started to extract all the documents in
it. Danny felt a knot in his stomach but he made an effort to stay calm. ‘Just focus on
what’s important’ – he repeated to himself over and over.
 
After an eternity, where Ruttland was trying to break his temper questioning him
about old cases, finally, he focused on the interview of the case he was there about.
Danny was tired and did not even protest with Ruttland asked him about a case
closed seven years ago. He just replied to each question, trying to stay calm. He
knew all too well the tricks to break a suspect, he knew Ruttland wanted to break
his safety net and open a crack to start to break him.
 
“Well, could you tell me why you went to London?” – Ruttland asked.
 
“No, I don’t think that is any of your busines”- Danny replied.
 
“Come on, agent Taylor, the night is long, don’t make it complicated. You’re tired,
me too. We are in the middle of an internal investigation and your best idea is to
leave the country”
 
“What investigation?”- Danny asked coldly.
 
“Well, as you wish. Agent Taylor, on November, 30 you went with your boss,
special agent Jack Malone to Tom Pullman’s home. Is that correct?”
 
“Yes”.
 
“A policeman told us you were observing the house and made a comment about the
economic position of Mr. Pullman. What do you have to say about it?”
 
“Mr. Pullman has a beautiful house. It’s my way to work observing any detail when
I’m working. In that case, Mr. Pullman was missing.”
 
“Yeah, I know you are interested in the assets of the people you can get some
benefit from. Recently, it happened too with some decorative objects at the house
of an elder woman... Mrs. Henderson, I guess it was her name”.
 
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand”.
 
“Travis case. Days later, once the case was closed, you asked your boss, agent
Malone, to pay a visit to Mrs. Henderson again. What did you want to do?”
Danny smiled. “If I don’t remember wrong, that objects gave us the lead to find Mr.
Travis and, if I don’t remember wrong, the firm that sold that porcelaines was
stealing from Mrs. Henderson and a lot of other naive people, too, who think that
those porcelain figures had some worth. No, I didn’t want to go to Mrs.
Henderson’s home to suggest any business deal to her or steal something from her,
if you’re insinuating that” – he said. He could tell him that he was checking if there
was microphones in Jack’s office, it was that obvious. But he didn’t, not yet.
“Returning to Pullman’s case. How did you find out Federico Guzmán was involved
in his disappearance?” – Ruttland asked.
 
Danny looked at the documents on the desk. “I did my statement about that case, I
know you’ve read it”- he said.
“Yes, you talk about some notebooks you found in his desk. How those notebooks
ended up at agent Johnson’s home instead in the file box?”
 
“If you read the reports, we didn’t find anything in those notebooks to help us to
find Mr. Pullman, which was our priority in that moment. I... I left them behind and
Agent Johnson found them and kept them to send back to Mr. Pullman. I suppose
that with the stir you have caused, she didn’t find it right to do it at that moment”-
Danny replied.
 
“Yeah, I’ve read it and I’ve read about your friendship with Mr. Guzmán, I’ve read
about two minor offences, some reports about stealing alcohol, some reports from
the group homes where you stayed about failure to comply with the rules, and
damage... not mentioning the murder of the director of the group home, Mrs.
Oldberg. Most of things you did with the help of your friend, Federico Guzmán.
What do you have to say about that?”
“I’m not going to deny those reports, agent Ruttland. But it’s something that
happened a long time ago. I don’t see what it has to do with this”.
 
“Well, it’s a different point of view. What I see is that you have a close friendship
with Fed...”
 
“Seventeen years ago, I shared a room with Federico Guzmán in a group home and
yes, we shared something else, for approximately one year and a half, but that fact
doesn’t prove that we kept contact contact today. Guzmán was found guilty for
murder and none of us knew anything about him since that day. Have you read that
or have you read only what is important for your case, agent Ruttland?”
 
“Yes, I’ve read it, too. I’ve read that you went to the trial completely drunk and your
statement was declared null... Were you trying to help him?”
 
“Listen, we were 17. We saw a murder just in front of us. You don’t know anything
about me, I liked Mrs. Oldberg and I wasn’t able to face Guzmán, but, as I told you
before, that happened a long time ago.”
 
“The other witness did well, they didn’t break down so quickly as you, agent
Taylor, in spite of the fact that they were a girl and a boy with street experience
immensely small in comparison to yours. What I read was that Pullman got
protection from you but you were the only one to break down”.
 
“What do you want me to say. I wasn’t so strong”- Danny replied crossing his arms.
 
“You said that you liked Mrs. Oldberg. Did you like her when you and Federico
Guzmán pictured how she was stabbed?”
 
“Words, not facts. I know I said a lot of silly things, I know I did a lot of stupid
things, most of them I don’t even remember. I don’t know why are you asking me
about that, I don’t know what that has to do with this case”.
 
“It has a lot to do with it, Mr. Taylor. Mr. Guzmán left prison, in New York, a city he
didn’t know, he got detailed information about Tom Pullman and Sandra Fisher,
two people that had completely changed their lives, their names. He sent them a
threatening note, kidnapped them and tried to kill them with overdoses and I don’t
know what you were doing there yet. Could you explain to me why, if Federico
Guzmán wanted revenge on all of you, he treated you differently?”
 
“You should be questioning him, but sadly he’s dead. Fede Guzmán sent a note to
me, at home, probably in the morning of November, 30, after I left home to go Tom
Pullman’s home. I know it because I found a note in my drawer, recently, that
either someone put there after having searched y house and I’m not going to
question the legality of that, or someome invented it to... make me nervous,
maybe?”
 
Robert Ruttland remained silent so Danny decided to take advantage.
 
“Listen, Ruttland, you and I both know what is happening here. I’ve also been
finding out things and I know that someone is very interested in keeping Tom, or
rather, his wife, away from what he considers people of doubful reputation, people
who shared Tom’s youth... people like a brilliant art historian with a outstanding
work history and an FBI agent who has let his life be his work since he entered in
this unit”.
“How dare you to insinuate...!” – Ruttland was flushed and getting very nervous.
 
“I’m not insinuating anything, I know it and I can prove it if it’s necessary”- Danny
said quietly, not mentioning Martin or Deputy Director Victor Fitzgerald.
“We have Tom Pullman’s statement”.
 
“Yes, I’ve read that statement, Ruttland. It’s regrettable how a person can be so
influenced”
 
“Tom Pullman said that you got into the room with Federico Guzmán and then you
both had a discussion”- Ruttland said, taking the interview up again.
 
“No, as I told in my statement, Guzmán pointed a gun at me, handcuffed me and
took me to that room. We didn’t havea discussion. Then, he beat me to death”.
“But he didn’t kill you”.
 
“No, I was lucky and I could save Tom and Sandra, or at least, got the attention of
the SWAT team, and thanks to their quick intervention, Tom is alive”.
“I see... agent Taylor, how do you get on with your brother?”
 
“What kind of question is that?”- Danny asked. For a moment, he startled, but he
was able to control his nerves. He was too tired and his reactions were getting
worse. In other circumstances, probably he would have done some stupid thing.
From the outside, Jack was looking and listening to the interview. He had missed
the beginning when he had been talking to Sandra Fischer, but he noticed Ruttland
asked over and over about the same matter, trying to find a crack on Danny. Danny
was doing really well, at least his strenth could be used to cause some doubt in the
investigation and the case could be closed because the absence of conclusive
evidences, even though it wasn’t the best. The consequences of this Victor
Fitzgerald had told Martin, worried him as much as how long Danny would get to
keep his temper, trying to keep the interview without a break down or break
Ruttland’s neck, something that Jack would have done pleasantly. He glanced at the
watch. It was 07.00 am. During the night, Ruttland had left the room to take more
coffee or go the bathroom. At that moments, Danny stayed alone in the room, but
he didn’t do anything, except rest his head, leaning it on the table between his
arms, and close his eyes. Jack couldn’t read his expression, except the tiredness,
but he knew, because the way he was defending himself, Danny was trying to keep
a concrete attitude and the concentration was the only thing he could keep to go on
like this. He was doing well.
 
But, when Ruttland asked him about his brother, Danny’s expression changed.
Maybe Ruttland didn’t see it but Jack knew very well Danny and he knew about the
difficult relationship between Rafie and Danny and he also knew that the
relationship was starting to work out, helping them to find a solution to the
nightmares that plagued their dreams, the unsolved conflicts from their
complicated childhood. Jack was sure that the gift that Danny brought to the office
on Christmas day, was given to him by Rafie.
 
“Agent Taylor, your brother... Rafael Alvarez, is that right?, was in Rickers when
Federico Guzmán was sent there. We have been asking around and well, what a
coincidence, both were seen talking several times like great friends. Listen, agent
Taylor, I’m going to tell you what happened... the whole damn truth. You’re a good
man, I don’t deny it, but sometimes blood is thicker than water, isn’t it? Your
brother, Rafael told you about Federico Guzmán, your childhood friend, some time
ago. You were in trouble at work, your coworker almost died in front of you, your
boss got angry with you when you almost made a school explode with a boy inside
and a lot of agents around. A lot of them saw how your boss slammed you against a
police car, yelling at you. What did you think? Surely you would be fired from FBI.
Then you started to think, and you started to think like the hot-head boy of 17 you
always were. But now you are an FBI agent, you have access to information and
you have your friend Guzmán as backup. Both of you exchanged information using
your brother, Guzmán owed you a favor, you destroyed your statement in Mrs.
Oldberg’s murder trial. But Guzmán changed the plans. Once he got Tom and
Sandra, once he faced them he wanted to revenge. But you became a problem. So
he decided to kill all of you and sent a note to get you in the place where Tom and
Sandra were taken. Meanwhile you were waiting for the call he had to make to Jen
Pullman asking for a ransom. But that call wasn’t made and you started to suspect
that maybe Guzmán wanted to warn you about something and had left a note to
you at home. So you told your boss you had to go back home, but your boss didn’t
allow you to go and you didn’t get the note Guzmán left for you, but with very
different intentions. He got nervous and sent you another note at your work, but
this time he wrote the wrong address because you, surely, would send all the FBI

to that place. I think you were sure that something was wrong. When you realized
Guzmán’s intentions, you decided to start acting as the FBI agent and to forget
what had been your original plan”.
 
Danny was going to protest. It was the most stupid story he ever had heard. But
Ruttland didn’t let him to speak.
 
“Come on Taylor, it’s late, you’re tired and me too”- Ruttland left in front of him a
sheet and a pen. “do yourself a favor and write your confession right now. You
don’t have escape. Maybe if you confess, you can do something for your brother”.
Danny remained silent looking the sheet. He pictured Rafie’s hopeness face the day
he came back to prison for the last time before the parole. He pictured Sylvia and
the kids, he couldn’t believe Rafie couldn’t get the parole because of him. He knew
the district Attorney would have serious doubts about the case but it would be too
late for Rafie and he didn’t know if his brother could cope with it. He took the pen
in his fingers and after play a moment with it, thoughtful, he started to write.
Ruttland smiled in satisfaction and stood up.
 
When he left the room, stared at Jack, who remained staring at his agent. He
couldn’t believe it, he couldn’t believe Danny was writing a confession.
“I always said that a little pressure is good. Sooner or later, the most stubborn
person starts to speak”. – he said.
 
Jack didn’t see him, he couldn’t do it, he had smashed his face in and that wouldn’t
be a great idea. If Danny wrote that confession, Sandra couldn’t help him. He
wanted to get into that room and take out Danny from there but he couldn’t do it.
He was only allowed to listen the interview from the outside, he could only get
information but he couldn’t talk to Danny.
 
It was 09.00 am in the morning. On the 12th floor at FBI building a new day at work
was beginning. It was time to come back to the office and tell his coworkers about
what had happened, before the news cames to them in the form of gossip.
Robert Ruttland left the interview room at nine in the morning. He was exhausted,
but fortunately, it seemed that his job had worked out. He knew being strong, and
he was strong when it was necessary, in his opinion, and he had got good results.
He entered in his office and picked up the phone. He had to inform his boss that the
case was closed.
 
“MacAllister” – a sharply voice said.
 
“Sir, it’s Ruttland. I’m calling you to tell you that agent Taylor is writing a
confession”.
 
“Y..Yes?”- his boss exclamed surprised.
 
“Yes sir”- Ruttland hesitated, equally surprised because his boss reaction. “I’ve
spent all the night in the interview room, since we took him at the airport and
finally he has agreed to write a confession. He is doing it right now. It’s what you
want, don’t you?”
 
“Yes, sure, of course, it’s just that... I didn’t think... well, in any case, agent Ruttland,
once more I have to congratulate you for your fantastic work. When you have
complete your reports, come to my office, please”.
 
“Thanks sir, I’ll do it”- Ruttland said and hung up.
 
His boss, Tony MacAllister was surprised, but at the same time satisfied. The FBI
wouldn’t lose anything with that Taylor and he had done a favor to a good friend
that, surely, would result beneficial for his interests. He didn’t share his life style,
but MacAllister was an ambitious man and he didn’t stop at nothing when he had
to get friends to give the step to politics. He left his office in Washington and
headed to a near café, two blocks from the office. He asked for a coffee and to use
the public phone. He had memorized the number of his friend, Peter Wright, who
always thought that his son in law was a problem.

Sam, Martin and Vivian were in the conference table exchanging information about
the case they were working when they saw Jack approaching them.
 
“What happened?”- Sam asked noticing the tired and disheveled aspect of her boss.
 
“Is there any news about Danny?”- Martin asked.
“Let’s go to my office. I don’t want to talk here”- he said as reply.
...............................

 
“First, I want to tell you” – he started once he closed the door – “that Danny is here.
I didn’t want to call you last night because I didn’t think this matter would go until
now and I wanted to talk to him, but they didn’t allow me to.”
 
“What?” – Vivian asked “Where is he?”
 
“Right now, he is in an interview room. He was arrested last night at the airport
when he came back from London and the OPR agents have been interviewing him until an hour,
approximately”. He said.
 
“Oh my god. But why? This is nonsense” – Sam said.
 
“I know, I know but...”- Jack tried to find the right words. He couldn’t believe what
he had seen some minutes ago. “Danny is writting a confession and I can’t stop
him”.
“What? Why?” – Martin asked.
 
Jack told them how for all the night, Danny had replied to all the questions and how
he was proud of him because his replies and attitude with the OPR agent.
 
“Everything was going okay, until he was questioned about his brother”- Jack told
them.
 
“Why?” Sam asked. “What his brother has to do in this matter?”
 
“Ruttland said that Guzmán and Alvarez spent time in prison, in the same prison, in
Rickers. It seems that Rafael Alvarez worked as go-between Danny and Guzmán
when Danny got the information about Tom Pullman and Sandra Fischer location,
to tell Guzmán.”
 
“That’s stupid”- Martin said in an upset tone.
“I know, but Ruttland told Danny that he’ll help Rafie with the parole hearing if he
confesses. I know that Rafael Alvarez has a parole hearing next week and he has a
good chance to get the parole. With this case, he wouldn’t get it and knowing
Danny, I guess he would be able to lie in order to help his brother”.
 
“What about Sandra Fischer? Danny went to London to come back with her...”
Yes, it looks strange that she is our only hope at this moment. Danny got to
convince her. She was with him in the airport when he was arrested. She called to
tell me what was happening. She told me that this morning was going to talk to
Tom Pullman, to try to convince him to change his statement. I think she knows
him well, I think they know each other very well, I hope she convinces him in time,
before Danny gives OPR that damn confession”.
 
Robert Ruttland remained silent in his office for a while, thinking about the case.
The conversation with his boss had brought him a bad feeling, it wasn’t a
complicate case, it was out of place that the praise had been so effusive... he had
spent a long time to get that confession though. Why MacAllister had wanted a
deep investigation of all Malone’s team and in special on agent Taylor he didn’t
understand at the beginning, but he trust his boss. Now, he had a good impression
of the case but everything had been starting with Tom Pullman’s statement. What
happened with Sandra Fischer statement contradicting some aspects of Pullman’s
statement? Ruttland ran a hand through his hair and opened the folder of the case
looking for Fischer’s statement, to check something he had read but hadn’t
considered before... He also checked Malone’s report and remembering what
Danny Taylor had told him, the only contradiction was Thomas Pullman’s
statement, the reason for this investigation. Not knowing why, Ruttland was
getting nervous and a thousand questions crossed his mind. However when Taylor
came back to work he kept behaving suspiciously, hiding the evidence, like those
notebooks, the calls to the Art Gallery and Sandra Fisher’s home in London, his
quick travel, that made him to think that possibly, in some way, Taylor was
involved in a dark issue with Guzmán. MacAllister had given him a clear case, he
trusted him and he had work with total conviction. He never had doubts about his
boss, but now...
 
He stood up and looked at the clock. Probably, agent Taylor had finished the
confession. It was late and he was tired, probably it was the reason for his
confusion. He left the office to head for the interview room when he saw walking
towards him SAC Olczyk with agent Malone and two young and very familiar
people he didn’t expect to see there... Tom Pullman and Sandra Fischer.

Danny finished writing his statement and reread it carefully. He was signing it
when the door opened.
 
“Hey Danny” – Martin said, coming in.
“What... what are you doing here?” – Danny was surprised, he just was waiting for
Ruttland came back to give him his statement.
Martin approached his coworker and leant a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s get out of
here, Jack asked me to take you back home”.
 
“Home? No, no, wait a moment, I have to give this paper to agent Ruttland, he’s
coming back right now”- Danny said with the papers in his hands.
“No, leave them on the desk, someone will give them to him, if it’s necessary.
Ruttland isn’t going to come back, you have to come with me now, right?” – Martin
insisted again, grabbing Danny’s arm and forcing him to stand up.
Danny brushed off Martin’s arm abruptly and looked at him angrily. “You don’t
have to get me out of here like I was one of your suspects”.
Martin was surprised with his coworker’s reaction. He just wanted to give him
support but Danny’s expression clearly told him to stay away of him.
 
“It’s okay, Danny, I’m sorry”- he said and opened the door.
Both left the interview room and walked to the parking lot where Martin had his
car in silence. Martin had never noticed the distance between the two places was
so long. It wasn’t only Danny’s silence and the way he avoided his eyes that made
the atmosphere tense around them, maybe it was his imagination but he felt all the
people making comments in low voices.
 
Martin drove in silence until he arrived at Danny’s home. Danny didn’t say
anything, and remained all the time with his head leant on the window, frowning
and lost in his own thoughts. Closing the engine, the silence was more evident but
Martin decided to face the situation.
 
“It looks like your friend convinced Tom Pullman to change his statement”- he said.
“I would have done it, Martin, but every single thing I do is misunderstood”- Danny
said in an upset tone.
 
“Well, we never had any doubt about you, you know, but you have to recognize
that leaving the States wasn’t a very intelligent decision. Jack was very angry with
you when he found out”.
 
“I can imagine” – Danny muttered.
 
“He was afraid about the consequences for you, Danny, but finally you did it. You
got to convince Sandra to come back and she convinced Tom”.
Danny said nothing.
 
“Is there something you want to tell me?” – Martin asked.
 
“I’ve said all what I had to tell, I’ve written and signed it. Martin, I’m really tired, I
just want to forget this crap, right?” – Danny said.
 
“Yeah, sure, you’re right. I only want you to know that I’m with you and any thing
you need or you want to tell me, I’m here to listen”.
 
“Thanks” – Danny smiled slightly.
 
Martin saw his friend getting out the car and walk to the building where he lived.
When he didn’t see him anymore, started the car. He just hoped that Danny was okay and this
stupid case was forgotten quickly.
 
Danny got out of the car and walked to the entrance of the building. He went in
knowing that Martin was looking at him. It was something he had to accept. He had
felt the looks on him since he left that interview room. He didn’t know if he was
angry, tired or scared... maybe a little bit of everything.
 
He opened his apartment door, entered and closed the door behind him. He leant
against it, feeling the warmth and safety of home. If it was true that Tom had
changed his statement, as Martin told him, he had nothing to be worried about, nor
had Jack or Vivian, nor Rafie... What had scared him the most was how close he
had been to destroying his life and the lives of people he loved. In spite of how
exhausted he was, the control he had been keeping all night was still strong and he
couldn’t sleep. He went to the kitchen and took a sip of water. He sat down on the
table playing with the glass, breathing deeply, trying to relax and let all the tension
escape.
 
 
Flashback
 
“New York, what do you think, Danny?”
 
Danny shrugged his shoulders. Any thing he was told it was the same. They were
moving as if they were sneak thieves, as if they were the guilty people. Why New
York? He had spent his whole life in Miami and he only knew one reason the social
workers let him to go to New York. He knew Rafie was there, he had left Miami when
he got out of prison. But Danny didn’t want to be with Rafie.
Jessica Dawson worked with social service for 15 years now, and for the last three
years, Danny was under her care. She knew him well enough to know what he was
thinking.
 
“Daniel, you have to think of this as a gift, do you understand? You’re a smart boy and
intelligent, you could get the best our of you if you want. You have a wonderful
chance to start again, to head your life, Danny. You’re 17, you’ll go to a good center.
They will help you to find a job and you’ll study what you want. New York is a world
of opportunities for you, I’m sure of it, Daniel”.
 
“Why do I have to change my name?” – Danny asked.
 
“It’s a judge’s decision, not mine. It’s not only about you, Tommy and Sandra will
change their names and they will be sent out of Florida. He wants to disconnect the
three of you from the Mrs. Oldberg disgrace. He doesn’t want your future affected by
this...”
 
“We have done nothing wrong...”
 
“I know Danny, but when time has passed, things can be confused and finally you
would stay linked to this sad event, not only Tom and Sandra, but also Fede, the four
of you. Things are difficult right now, it isn’t necessary to make things more difficult,
okay?”
 
“If you say so...” Danny grimaced.

 
When Danny arrived in New York, the city was immense and dark at the beginning,
but that feeling was over soon. As Mrs. Dawson told him, the center, his new home
was different, it was really good, or maybe it was because he knew that he would stay
a short time, or maybe it was because he wasn’t a kid anymore. No, he wasn’t a kid
and he had to take in charge of his life, even though he didn’t know how to do it. He
never got worried about it, he never thought to reach the age of 18. Actually, if he
was sincere with himself, he was sure that he would be dead before he had to manage
on his own. He always thought he deserved it because of he had done to his parents,
to Rafie, his family. But there he was, close to finishing his school period and almost
turning to 18, with a big question mark about his life. However, Danny had a natural
talent to touch people to the heart and he didn’t turn up his nose at anything. He got
some casual jobs and usually got a place to stay in some lodging or some coworker’s
home, or even at the place where he was working. But he wasn’t always welcomed
and he lost some work when his boss found him sleeping at the back of the store with
a bottle of liquor still in his hand. The alcohol helped him to live more or less quietly,
let him to sleep without those terrible nightmares. It had been a long time but he
went on living some of the tragics events of his childhood. The mistreatment of his
father on all the family, Rafie with overdoses almost dead, the begging of his mum
diying in that damn car, the first time he spent a night in a cell of some police station
completely drunk, Mrs. Oldberg’s murder. All of them were usually his roomates
during the lonely nights. Trying to escape from his past, Danny become an
introverted young man, fearful of friendships, fearful of the questions about
something he didn’t want to tell, he didn’t want to remember, he couldn’t or he didn’t
know how to answer.
 
He was close to 20 years old when he got more stable job at a Public Library and got
enough money to rent a tiny apartment. It was the first time he had a safe place to
sleep. He didn’t spend time at home, he liked walking, getting to know the city,
making contact with the different cultures he felt attracted to. It was at this time,
when he received a letter from social services telling him that his brother, Rafael was
in Rickers, a New York prison he had heard named watching TV. However, Danny was
fighting to build a new life and he knew that he couldn’t contact Rafie because he
would risk everything he had. The thought that he could be in the same situation as
his brother plagued his nightmares. He started to go to a bar near home and started
a friendship with one of the waiters. In that place he got what he wanted and he
didn’t realize the damage he was doing to himself. He got over easily and nobody
noticed it in the Library. He got a sholarship to study at New York University and
started to study Law, something that got his attention while he was reading books at
the Library. He felt a kind of fascination while he read how all the parts involved in a
case played with the leads to explain a lot of theories and at the end, only one person,
the judge, made a decision about the life of other person. It was dangerous,
interesting, he liked it. However, an event came to signal his destiny. Lately, Danny
spent hours studying at the Library to pass the BAR exam, once he had finished his
studies. He had got a friendship with a kid that always went to the Library once he
finished school. He liked naval history and Danny always selected some books for him.
Two or three days a week he spent some time at the library doing his homework and
then reading those books. His name was Mat.
 
Danny was putting some books in order when he noticed his boss talking to two
other people. They seemed like FBI agents, because of the way they were dressed and
he froze when his boss pointed to him. As they approached him, he felt a knot in his
stomach and got very nervous. The woman was talking to his boss, as his coworker
took notes. She seems to be the agent in charge.
 
“Danny” – his boss said – “those FBI agents want to talk to you”.
His warm expression calmed him down a little.
 
“Agents Malone and Van Doran. Do you know this kid?” – the agent said showing him
her ID as his coworker showed a picture of Mat.
 
Danny looked at the agent not understanding. “He’s Mat, what happened?”
 
“He’s missing. Your boss told us he usually comes here and you have befriended him”.
 
“Well, yes, he comes here two days in a week, he likes a lot naval stories...”
 
“When was the last time you saw him?”- Malone cut him.
 
“Yesterday, yesterday about 13.00 hours”.
 
“Was he nervous, did you notice something strange on him?” – Van Doran asked.
 
“Well, he was worried”- Danny said not knowing if he had to continue speaking. But
both agents stared at him waiting for more so he told them what he knew. “He had a
discussion with some classmates about a girl he likes”.
 
“Did he tell you the names of the classmates?”
“No, I’m sorry”
“What’s the name of the girl he likes?”
 
“Susan,... I don’t know her surname, I’m sorry”.
 
Well, thanks, Mr...”
 
“Taylor, Danny Taylor”.
 
Next day, his boss told him that Mat had been found. However, Mat never came back
to the Library. Danny didn’t know the FBI had a unit to find missing people and the
work was really interesting. The chance to help people, to help other guys like Mat,
got his attention.
Danny continued with his work in the library and at the same time, studying for the
BAR exam. At the end of the day he spent some time in the bar of his good friend
George, drinking a couple of whiskeys. Lately, he came back soon to go on studying
because the exams were soon.
The day before he barely slept, checking all he had studied. He had to go to the
Community College in Nassau and he was late. He left home quickly but his car didn’t
start. He was very nervous and almost by instinct took the little flask and drank a sip
of whiskey. He started the car not noticing the other car approaching. The cars crashed,
the whiskey was spilt over him and his life took a new turn. He never took his
exam, he ended up in a police station and was lucky that his lawyer got to leave
things in as misdeamenor. All the events during those moments, made him remember
the old times in Miami, his life in the group homes and with Fede Guzmán. In a flash,
he knew he had to change his behaviour. It was time to consider what he was going
to do with his life. He had to face the reality of things, he couldn’t give in to the events
that formed his childhood and youth, that had been owning his life. Danny realized
then he needed help to overcome his problems. A policeman had been talking to him
at the police station and left a brochure in his hands. It was a brochure for
Alcoholics Anonymous . He was 24 years old, he had his whole life before his eyes.
He started to go to the meetings every day but it was a month later when he spent a
whole day without drinking. That day was definitely marked in his personal calendar
as the day his life gave the most important turn. It was also the day he applied for the
FBI. The memory of Mat and those FBI agent was etched on his memory. Why not?
 
End of flashback.

Chapter 13
 
Martin came back to the office after he left Danny at home, with a bitter feeling.
The feeling that their friendship had been broken in some point barely noticeable
for him. Right now, Danny was miles away from him. He realized then that he knew
just a few things about Danny, just what Danny wanted to let him to know. Now he
could say that he knew another little thing about his life, his past. But Martin didn’t
see what Danny saw, the thin line between continuing his life or destroying it
forever, simply because of the convenience of other people. It was that, what would
make Danny a very careful person with his revelations in the future, more careful
with his work and extremely private.
 
During the next weeks at work the change on Danny’s behaviour was especially
noticed. If Danny shared with them the usual chat about work, he took special care
to keep his professionality intact, keeping his feelings apart and working always by
the book and in a very conservative way. He let go to the wayside his usual ounce
of intelligence to break the most stubborn suspect and he only kept the sweet part
of his character for children.
 
At first, the situation was tense, not only because of them, they never talked about
what had happened during the last weeks, but the inevitable gossip in the
building, cruel, false and in any case harsh comments.
 
Almost one month after his detention at the airport, Jack received from his boss,
Alexander Olczyk, the complete report of Pullman’s case. When Jack read it he felt a
sweet punch in his heart, Danny was complete exonerated of all the accusations
and there was a personal letter from Ruttland apologising for the investigation he
had to do to Jack Malone’s team, and especially on special agent Danny Taylor.
Jack was checking the last documents he hadn’t seen, like agent Ruttland’s
statement, Tom Pullman’s new statement and Sandra Fischer’s, who had to
confirm Tom’s statement, and Danny’s confession, a confession that kept him in
suspense for a long time. When he read Danny’s statement he could see what
Danny actually had done. It was a very detailed statement about what he had been
doing since november 29, the day that Federico Guzmán had sent the notes to Tom
and Sandra until the day of his detention at the airport.
 
Jack would have gladly made copies of some parts of the documents, Robert
Ruttland’s letter, to divulgue in the building to stop the gossips.
He picked up the phone and called Danny, who was with Sam talking to the mother
of a boy, whose father had kidnapped him, wondering about the lead they had got,
breaking the restraining order against him.
 
“Taylor”
 
“Danny, it’s Jack, how’s it going?”- Jack asked.
 
“Sam has gone with Mrs. Morelly to look for the keys to a log cabin, where she
thinks her ex is hidden. It seems that Ian likes to go there to fish and if his father
pretends to make things normal, probably they are in the log cabin. We have called
the police to help us”. – he explained.
“Why are they looking for a key?”- Jack asked.
 
“There is only one. Mrs. Morelli told us that her husband was at home some weeks
ago. He had gone with the excuse to get some clothes he had left behind, but now
she thinks he was looking for the keys. If we don’t find the keys, it’s almost sure
they are in the log cabin” – Danny said.
“Oh, well, right. Call me back when you know something. Eh... Danny, I’ve received
the definitive report about Pullman’s case” – Jack said. “I wanted to tell you that the
investigation is closed but I would like to talk to you here about something else.
When you have a moment come into my office”- Jack said.
“Alright” – Danny said quietly.
 
“Eh, don’t worry, the case it’s over, everything is okay”- Jack explained.
 
“Good, I didn’t expect anything different” – Danny said. “Thanks, Jack”
“You’re welcome, don’t forget to come to my office later”.
Four hours later, little Ian Morelli came back to the safe embrace of his mum, as his
father was hancuffed and drove to the FBI building. Sam and Danny came back
together to the office.
 
“It’s sad, Mr. Morelli just wanted to spend some time with his son”- Sam said.
 
“Sam, he has an order to stay away from the boy”- Danny said.
“Yes, but the boy was happy with his father. Mr. Morelli seems a good person”
“Don’t be taken in appearances, Sam. Hey, you know what? Jack called me this
morning, when you were looking for the key with Mrs. Morelli. Pullman’s case is
definitely closed”.
 
“Well, I suppose I have to congratulate you” – Sam said.
 
“Yes, it seems so”- he said and smiled at the first time in the whole day.
It was six in the evening when they came in the office. As Jack had asked, Danny
finished his report and went to his office.
 
“Did you want to see me?”- he asked.
 
“Yes, come in, Danny, please”- Jack said, keeping what he was doing and putting in
front of him the documents Olczyk had given him.
 
Danny closed the door and sat down. He was a bit nervous, they hadn’t talked
about what had happened for weeks and he didn’t know the details of those
reports, even though Jack had told him not to worry.
 
“Well, this is for you, Danny”- Jack said, handing him a copy of agent Ruttland’s
statement addressed to him. Danny looked with a questioning face at Jack, who
grinned.
 
“It’s an apology statement”- he explained – “he apologises because of the
investigation run over the team and particularly over you. Agent Ruttland
explained us that he had acted under the orders of his boss and he never suspected
that he could have acted for his own personal interest. He feels sorry for not
understand before what was happening, when he realized what had happened it
was too late. Tom Pullman’s new statement, Sandra’s ratification and your own
statement signed that morning left the case empty of reasons to continue”.
“Good”- Danny said quietly as reading the report.
 
“Danny” – Jack said- “Danny, listen to me, please”- he repeated seeing that Danny
continued reading the report.
 
Danny lifted his eyes to meet Jack’s and he could see the emptiness in his look, with
surprise. “Danny, I know that all of this has affected you in a very personal way. I
don’t know to what extent exactly but I’ve seen how affects your work”.
Danny frowned but he didn’t say anything.
 
“I mean, you’re doing well your work, I’m not complaining, but you have been
taking so many precautions that it makes me think that you don’t feel comfortable,
that you don’t trust yourself or your coworkers and I wanted to ask you if my
impressions are true”. – Jack said.
 
Danny slightly smiled. “Sincerely, Jack, haven’t you noticed what has happened?
Don’t you know how easy it is to destroy the career, no, the life of a person like me
in a fraction of second? Jack, I spent a long time trying to overcome some things in
my life and build the person you know. A piece of that life I wanted to stay buried
had been put on a table and questioned all my work, all my life. I know that I’m not
the best person in the world and I made mistakes, but I’ve learnt that mistakes
never are forgiven, not because of malicious people that get to take the worst of a
person. I know that this situation will be repeated in the future but I can’t admit
that my faults affect my coworkers, my family. I know and I’ve assumed it, that I’ll
never get a good promotion like possibly Martin or Viv, or surely Sam will get. But
with this case, I had to make Sandra Fischer come back New York , a trip she didn’t
want to do, because it would bring back old and painful memories. You and Viv
almost lost your jobs, my brother Rafie could have lost his parole and that would
be fatal for him and I...” Danny stopped talking.
“You what?”
 
“I don’t know what would have happened to me, Jack, but I have serious doubts I could cope with it”- 
Danny said with broken voice.
 
“Danny”- Jack put his hand on his agent’s arm. “It’s true that these things happen
everyday, but don’t think that it’s because of your situation, because of what you
did in the past. It’s something we have to live with, especially when we have
responsibility in our jobs, or jobs especially desired by other people. But I don’t
want you to think about it. You did a good defense of yourself, you did excellently
Danny and, well, I wanted to tell you that the last statement you signed in that
interview room deserves the most of my respect. You were very sincere telling
things that I knew you didn’t want to tell with such detail and minuciosity that
exonerated you completely. The way you defended our actions, the way you
defended the innocence of your brother and yourself, is deserving of the best of
praises”.
 
“Thanks”- Danny muttered, a bit ashamed. He never wrote that statement to be
praised for it.
 
“Danny, I want you to have the trust you had in your coworkers, in all of us. I know
you have distanced yourself away from us, especially from Martin and I know that
you don’t want this” – Jack said.
 
“I... I can’t avoid it, Jack. Look, it’s that... he doesn’t understand it, it’s impossible he
can understand it. For Martin, everything was easy, he got this work easily, he can’t
guess the effort I had to do and I know that people close to him can destroy it
easily...”. Danny stopped realizing something. “Yes, I think I felt affected by what
Martin’s father said about me and I can’t help but think that there are a lot of
people like him... I don’t know, it’s confusing, it’s unfair, Martin would never do
that to me, but I... I simply can’t. I’m sorry.”
 
“I understand you, Danny, but I would like you not to take it personally. You don’t
know what Victor Fitzgerald has said about me. If I think of it seriously, I would
have left the unit because I would have hit his stupid face.
 
“Listen, working with anguished people because a family member is missing and
giving them support isn’t easy, looking for that person without any lead, knowing
that maybe they are dead, or their lives depend on you, that job needs people like
you, like Martin, Viv or Sam, with a special maturity, feeling and professionalism
and all of you do it perfectly”.
 
"And, what do you suggest I do? Because taking Victor Fitzgerald and all the
people like him seriously, I can’t help but feel that my work is constantly called into
question and I’ll see that my coworkers are taking those responsible jobs, their
own teams, and I’ll go on here fighting everyday, to save not someone who is
missing, but my own work, my own life” – Danny asked.
 
“Well, you have to trust your coworkers as before. You can’t mistrust Vivian, it’s
impossible. Sam? Never. Martin? Please I would like you to trust him as a personal
favor, I’m tired of listening him with a sad face tell me that you don’t talk to him,
you don’t trust him, and stupid things like that. I haven’t time to handle that. And if
you mistrust me... you don’t know what I can do to you”- Jack finished smiling.
Danny smiled as well. “You’re right, Jack, I think I have been stupid with you and
all of you are the ones who don’t deserve my attitude. I think I owe you all an
apology”.
 
“Great idea. What about a drink and we celebrate this?” – Jack said waving one of
the documents. “you don’t know what happy I would be if I could make a copy of
Ruttland’s letter for all the department”.
 
“Yeah, it was a surprise. But it says a lot in his favor, too, at least he knows to
recognize his mistakes, and apologise”.
 
“Yes”- Jack said. “One more thing... I don’t want to interfere with your private life
but, have you heard anything about Tom Pullman or Sandra Fischer?”.
“Yes, Sandra called me to give my bag back. We met in a book store she usually
visits when she comes to New York”.
 
 
Flashback
 
Danny waited for five minutes outside the book store, when he saw Sandra
approaching.
 
“I’m sorry, I had to get out of the cab because there is a traffic jam, I thought I was
late”. She apologised as she tried to control her breathing.
 
“Don’t worry, I’ve just arrived. Let’s go into. It’s cold here”. Danny said.
 
“Yeah, sure”
The sat down in the café zone, at a discrete table. Sandra sat down in front of the
door entrance. Danny noticed it and asked. “Are we waiting for someone?”
 
“I don’t know, maybe” – she said. “how are you... how are things at work?”
 
“Bad, well, no, good, I mean...”- Danny started nervously.
Sandra smiled. “I know what you want to say. For me it was a bad moment but I think
it was for good”.
 
“I haven’t had the chance to thank you for what you did, Sandra. I know that it was
painful for you to come back New York. I know you convinced Tom to change his
statement and I know that it was difficult for you. I’m so sorry about what I made you
do but I was sure it was the only way to clarify things” – Danny said taking her hand
affectionately.
 
“I have... I’ve got something for you. Actually, it’s yours, so I’m giving it back” –
Sandra said, opening his handbag. She took out the little pack of notebooks and
handed him. “Actually, you convinced Tom. When we were separated, I kept your
notebooks because I wanted to have something of you. I never suspected how useful
they would be in the future, now, but when Tom saw them and read what you have
written, he remembered the worth of friendship you both had built and, in spite of the
fear of losing his wife, he talked to her and modified his statement. He is very
ashamed about all of this, and I think he would like to apologise even though it won’t
help” – she said.
 
Danny took the notebooks and opened one of them, it was almost everything in blank,
and only at the end there was some words written. The influence of Tom on him, the
help he received from his friend in the group home, keeping him away from Fede and
the alcohol for a while, gave him a bit of stability and he been able to write some of
his experiences in that little notebooks that Mrs. Oldberg gave them the first day they
entered in the house.
 
Sandra told him the conversation she had with Tom that morning, outside of his
home and the fear he had to lose the only family he had got, the panick he felt when
he saw his wife’s look of desapproval when she knew about his past, and everything
turned back against him.
 
“But Tom didn’t have anything to be ashamed of”- Danny said.
 
“I know it, but it seems that being connected with Fede, with Mrs. Oldberg’s murder,
the group homes... you know what is said about group homes, Danny, we don’t know
what that woman thought, but Tom thought she would leave him”.
 
“But, it’s already over” – Tom said.
 
Tom Pullman stood in front of them. He had just entered and Danny didn’t see him
but Sandra did.
 
“Tom” – Danny said a little surprised, not knowing what more to say.
 
Tom sat down on the free chair in the table. The three of them remained silent for a
moment, until Tom spoke.
 
“Danny, I don’t... I don’t know if you will be able to forgive me. I think I don’t deserve
your forgiveness, but I would like to tell you that I deeply regretted what I did to you
and your coworkers, affecting your professionalism and credibility, based on events
that happened a long time ago, when I didn’t know you, right now”.
 
“I guess I deserved your mistrust and your bad opinion of me”- Danny said.
 
“Absolutely not, Danny. I think I knew you very well then, and I always considered you
as my best friend. The way you defended me from the others showed me the great
heart you had and that quality is always in a person. I said what I said because I was
afraid”
 
“You were afraid to lose your home with garden” – Danny said smiling, remembering
the first time he had been in his home.
 
“I was afraid to lose my family”- Tom said- “Since I lost my parents I never had
someone so close. I knew Jen at the University, I never talked to her about what
happened with Mrs. Oldberg, like the social worker asked me, in fact, I avoided
talking about anything. That brought us a lot of problems, and discussions with her
parents. When... I was in the hospital... when I had to tell her... I didn’t... you can’t
guess her expression... I thought I would lose her forever, I thought that I would stay
alone again and I was unable to cope with that”.
 
“I understand what you mean, Tom. I experienced something similar one time, but I
haven’t had the luck you have got. At least, Jen trusted you and got married to you. I
can tell you that when I was in your home, when we were investigating your
disappearance, I noticed that she loves you... a lot. You have two wonderful kids, I
don’t think you wanted to put in risk your family because... because of me”- Danny
said. He didn’t want to finish like that but...
 
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry Danny, I hope that with my new statement the case has been
clarified and there aren’t any consequences for you”- Tom said.
 
“Don’t worry, it’s over. Right now, I have a couple of days off, three days and then I’ll
return to work, so I’m taking it as a reward not as a punishment”.- Danny said.
He understood Tom, but he would have acted differently. On the other hand, he knew
Tom enough to know that he never would have been moved by bad faith. Simply, Tom
was like this. He shook his hand with a smile and Tom shook his with relief.
They had a coffee and then Tom said goodbye. He had to go back to work.
 
Danny and Sandra stayed alone in the café. “How long are you going to stay in New
York?”- Danny asked.
 
“I’ll leave this afternoon” – Sandra said.
 
Danny looked at her in surprised. “You told your friend Julie that you would stay for
two weeks and you have spent only three days”.
 
“I didn’t expect the FBI to take you at the airport, Danny. That hastened everything, I
wanted to talk to Tom but I wanted to stay with you both and maybe to make some
arrangements in the Art Gallery, here in New York. But after this... I need to go back
home”.
 
“I understand” – Danny said.
 
“It’s... London is my home Danny, same way New York is home for you. Being here
with you and Tom made me relieve old memories, memories I don’t want to live with
anymore. I have a good job and a happy life there, I have friends, home, a very stable
life. All of this has destabilized my life. I need to go back home and go on with my life...
the life I’ve got”.
 
“Things are going well for you...”- Danny said smiling.
 
“Well isn’t enough, you know Danny, I’ve always been positive and right now I have
everything I could dream about. I’m... I’m very happy”. Sandra said shyly smiling.
 
“I’m happy for you, Sandra” – Danny said. “Eh, well, like I guess this could be the last
time we would see each other, I want to give you something. I don’t know if you like it,
being an expert in art, but I would like you keep it with you”.
Danny took out of his bag an envelope and handed Sandra. She, curious, opened and
extracted a school paper of drawing. Sandra started to laugh but her emotion was so
deep that she turned to crying. “Oh, Danny... it’s... it’s incredible” – she said as sobbing
and nervously lauguing. “How is possible you have kept this for all those years?”.
 
“You told me that some day you would be an artist. I didn’t know the worth of the
picture in the market... you never know.” – he said smiling.
It was a drawing Sandra had done when they were at school and she had given him.
It was a picture of Danny, sitting down on the stairs at the entrance of the school, the
same place where she fell in love with him. She had painted this picture and given it
to him some days later, as gratitude. Sandra drew very well and Danny always kept
the gift like one of those little treasures he had received in the life with so much love.
 
“But... oh, no Danny, I want you to keep it, it was a gift for you” – she said.
“I know, it counted so much for me, it’s because of that I want you to keep it now. It’s
my little gift for all you have done for me these days” – he said.
 
“Thanks”- she said- “Thanks a lot Danny, you know that I’ll always keep it and give
the worth it deserved”.
 
Sandra leant forward to kiss him on the cheek. -. “Hey, would you like to hear a tale?”
she said breaking the little tense moment between them.
“Sure, why not?”
 
Both stood up and headed for other zone of Lucy Dovier’s book store, where Theresa
has just started to tell one of her magic tales to a group of children sitting down on a
comfortable carpet. Danny and Sandra sat down on a chair and let their minds
become involved by the fantasy and magic of the story. Danny took Sandra’s hand
and looked at her. She looked back at him with a smile, she would never forget Danny
and Danny knew that Sandra would be always in his heart.
 
 
End of flashback.
 
 
As they had planned, at the end of the work, they got together at a nearby café
where they used to go some times. Jack had informed them, after talk to Danny,
about the result of the investigation the OPR had done and his wish to celebrate it
at the end of the day.
 
“I think that it’s the first time I’ve seen an OPR agent writing a letter of apology” –
Martin said.
“It’s the least he could do”- Vivian said. “I’m still thinking about the measures for
security at home after I knew that they entered my home and I didn’t know it”.
 
“I thought that it was illegal”- Sam said.
“It was” – Jack said.
“Well, but the truth is that we have got to keep our integrity after this upsetting
matter, especially our dear coworker, present here, that fought to defend what was
fair when everything was against him and made possible we are here to celebrate
it”- Martin said, raising his glass and looking directly to Danny.
 
“Well, well, don’t exagerate” – he said a bit ashamed because his coworker’s words.
 
“Actually, I, like special agent Ruttland, I owe you an apology.”
“No Danny, you don’t owe us anything”. – Vivian said.
 
“Yes, yes. I know that during this time my attitude has been a bit rude with all of
you and it wasn’t fair. I know that without your help and support I wouldn’t have
been able to keep strong and I’ve spent a hard time getting onto this fantastic
team. You know that, for me, you’re my family and I would like to keep it that way”.
“You would have done the same for us, Danny” – Sam said. “I, and I guess Vivian,
Martin or Jack, respect your decisions and we love you. You’re a great professional
at work and best friend. It’s a fact we value and appreciate and nothing and nobody
will change it”.
“Oh, gosh, I don’t... I don’t know what to say”- Danny said. He knew his coworkers
aprreciated him but that moment it was strangely close to him and made him
emotional. However, he kept his feelings back.
“What about a good dinner?”- Martin said, getting him off the hook.
“Good idea”- Sam said. “I’ll pick up a menu to read what they have for us”.
 
“I have to go at home, guys”- Vivian said. “Reggie has a cold and Marcus will arrive
at home late tonight. I don’t want to leave him alone such a long time”.
 
“Oh, well, Viv, other day I’ll invite you to something” – Danny said.
“Okay, but don’t invite me to see a Met’s game, please”- she joked.
“I promise”- he said. “Wait, I’ll go with you to the door”.
 
Vivian looked at him in surprise but she didn’t say anything. Danny went with her
to the street and called for a cab for her.
 
“I wanted.... I wanted to thank to you, Viv. I know you too a lot of risks to keep
secret about some things and it means a lot to me”- Danny said seriously.
She put her hand on his cheek and smiled. “You deserve that and more, Danny. You
don’t realize how important you are for us, not only as coworker but as friend”.
 
“I’m starting to realize it tonight”- Danny said, trying to hide a stupid tear. “No, if
you’re going to do that I’ll start to cry like a child and I’ll have to thank Ruttland for
tightening the screws on me”.
 
“You can cry whenever you want Danny, but always if you feel happy”. – Vivian
said with a smile, pressing his arm affectionaly. Then, she opened the cab door and
got into. “See you tomorrow, Danny”.
 
“See you tomorrow, Viv”- he said and stay at the entrance looking the cab driving
away.
 
END.