Mourning Dew -- Chp. 11

Chapter 11 –

Hank tapped his pencil’s eraser on his arm as worked on the surprise quiz in French class. Jean couldn’t help but notice he was frustrated. She focused her attention back on doing the surprise quiz and easily answered the questions. It was relatively easier for her than the rest of the class for many reasons. She had picked up Spanish after the age of seven, meaning that the skill set she used to learn Spanish were the same skills she was applying now in learning French. French was turning into a fun language which made it enjoyable to learn, except when she was often corrected for having too thick a Spanish accent. But, even that was beginning to change as she practiced her pronunciation every night in front of a mirror. In fact, she now found it a great way to ignore the mundane chore of her Blessed Time.

Jean got down to the last question. It was so simple for her. The hard part was hearing ‘him’ instead of ‘her’ when ever the word ‘elle’ was spoken. But when it was written, knowing it was a female reference was easy. ‘Elle apprend la langue Francaise.’ Then she conjugated the verb ‘Apprendre.’ It was very much like the Spanish verb Apprender. The main thing was to learn the different verb endings. And Apprendre could be conflated with the Spanish version, so she studied it every night so she wouldn’t mess up on it.

She got up and placed the quiz on Madame Renaud’s desk. She took note that she was the first one up there with their quiz completed. Madame Renaud took the quiz and looked at it. She winked at Jean and gave her a thumbs up meaning that she scored a ten out of ten. That didn’t escape Hank’s notice. He was more than a little frustrated with the quiz. He kept tapping his pencil’s eraser against his shoulder to keep it quiet but it communicated his anxiety well enough that it hurt Jean to see him suffering so much. Student after student went up and dropped off their quiz. Finally, Hank stood up last and dropped his off. Jean could tell by his body language, he had not done well at all.

At the end of the class, Jean stopped him and asked him as they left classroom, “Hank, would you like to study together?”

Feeling awkward that he wasn’t the superior student that he wanted to be, Hank stammered out, “Would you? I really need the help.”

She gently put her hand on his arm. “Of course I would. This is my third language. So, I have already developed the skills to learn a language. You haven’t. It was frustrating to me when I was forced to learn Spanish. I could teach you techniques for learning French that I used to learn Spanish.” She said shyly looking down from his pride hurt eyes, “That is, unless your mother thinks otherwise.”

Hank seemed more focused on her than his academics when he asked, “Were those your ... possibly ... your folks this morning?”

“Maybe.” Jean didn’t want to lie, but she knew that the family was covering her origins in order to protect her from being an object of conflict and dissension. The reasons for her looking down now were that she was trying to hid a tear falling down her cheek over the thought of being attacked for something she had no say in.

Hank misread the tear rolling down her cheek as her missing her parents. He thought it must be breaking their heart to send their daughter away like that. Maybe he should comfort her, he thought. “They seemed nice. I could tell they really love you.”

“They are nice. I really love them too. They are courageous and noble. And so is Senor Juan. I wish I was as courageous and noble. I think I am a coward in comparison.” she said painfully the one truth she clearly she had to state.

Hank was beginning to see how much she could be the fragile flower that his mother warned him about. He asked worriedly, “Will you have to go to Mexico and testify?”

“Perhaps. One day. They think my statement will be good enough to get him to confess.” And then, he realized she wasn’t a coward. She just was scared, like anyone else would be.

“Okay, the reality is what can I say to my mother that will convince her that things will not go wrong again.”

Jean’s tender reply was, “Just tell her the truth. They can go wrong. But, if we are chaperoned by my grandmother, I will have someone to help me if it goes wrong. But, I don’t think it will. If you and I know now that my trigger is seeing a child hurt by a man, then we just avoid that until I get better.”

“Sure.” The way it came out showed how resigned he was to accepting the obvious shadow hanging over their young love suffocating it from the warm spring sun and spring showers. His mother, in his mind, took the form of a high dark thunderhead with its ominous ferocity dominating the landscape. Trying to convince himself it would work, he offered, “So, if we just study, until my mother relaxes, I am sure that will be okay, do you think?”

Was this an olive branch that could work? “Yes, until it can become something else.” she said with hope rising in her voice.

“That would be nice.” Hank smiled. “Besides, maybe taking things slow isn’t so bad if it means we end up speaking the same language together with the same meaning.” Hank found her to be honest in her feelings. Maybe too honest.

Jean blushed. Still, she couldn’t help but put out a thousand watt smile and whimsically tilted her head looking up into his eyes at last. “A truly romantic and a sweet poetic way of looking at it. Those are things I love about you.”

Her sweetness and frankness were so appealing to Hank. That were things he loved about her too. Thinking of their being together again, his puppy dog eyes barked and yipped back at her in their hopeful and innocent excitement too.

***

“Just sit there there. Not a word please. No matter what. You are now on the inside and all will be explained about what you are about to see. Just watch and then I am going to share with you the internal files off site.” Jason sat as he was told. The stern voice of Bishop was novel. But he felt curious as to what Bishop was up to at that moment. Why had he gone to all this trouble, he wondered. Even down to his disguise.

Cam came in the door with Jean holding his hand. Bishop greeted them along with Claudine. “It is good to see you both. Claudine will you have Jean do the signing in the conference room. The statement from the FBI is ready for you to sign.” As they turned the corner, Bishop turned to Jason and put his finger on his lips to signal to stay quiet. Jason sat there with his mouth hanging open. As he raced ahead and opened the door for all three, Jean stopped and gave Bishop a hug.

“Thank you.” she said. He hugged her back and winked. After the door closed, he turned to Jason who sat there dumbfounded.

Bishop said in a low voice, “Come on Jason, there is a short time to catch you up to speed. We have a special trip to make. Say nothing until we are alone and I give you the okay, understood?” Jason nodded. It helped that Jason had been picked up and disguised earlier that day. No one would recognize him at the moment. He looked like a tramp the police brought in for questioning.

They headed out to Bishop’s car and drove to an abandoned office building a couple of blocks away. After looking around, Bishop ushered him into the building and they went through a beat up door finding a man in a suit sitting at a table waiting for them. He stood up.

“Jason, this is agent Morrison with the FBI. Okay, you can talk now.”

“And I have total access?”

“As promised.”

Jason looked at Bishop shaking his head in disbelief. “That girl. She is the one in the photo, isn’t she?”

“Yes, she is. That is Camy Laignaux.” The look of shock on Jason’s face was unmistakable. Bishop continued. “On the table there is the case file and Morrison and I are here to answer all your questions. But, most importantly, you don’t need to take notes. You will have access to this information as though you were one of the investigators. We will tell you how later. Just right now, read the case file. It will answer many of your questions.”

After an hour, of reading and answering questions, Jason shook his head. “Fantastic job, guys. I am very impressed. But, you took a real gamble letting me in like this, didn’t you? How do you know I won’t betray you?”

“We don’t. It is just my gut. I think you are smart enough to know that Mr. Jack is the one in contact with you and he is hell bent on using you to hurt this poor child for his own twisted purposes. I believed in your humanity and your reporter ethics even before I met you.”

“To not report this?”

“Not exactly, you still have a hell of a story. And I want you to report it. It is your bread and butter. But, I trust in your discretion. There are three murders and a horror story here too. I can’t stop you, but I would like it if you found a way to leave Jean out of this. So, in making this arrangement, we have left that to your discretion. Cam, Jean’s father agrees. He saw you as he entered and knows why you were there. He wanted you to see his daughter so you would see she is real and she is fragile.”

“Can I interview Jean at some point?”

“Sure. If that is what you want.”

Jason looked down at that file, the photos of the missing boys, the pictures of the hacienda, Jean’s statement about the murder of Steve, and the photo Jean chained up to the pillar. Anger was filling his heart. He was as livid as he could have ever been at what had been done to her. “No. I won’t interview her. You have not withheld anything from me and I really respect that. I see this man’s evil for what it is. To report this would be to rape this poor child. You are spot on. I will just report on the murders in Mexico. Anything to get this f***ing b****rd and make him pay. I don’t like being manipulated either. If I had a gun, I would shoot the &*%$#! myself.”

“Well, the same constitution that prevents us from stopping you from telling this story also explicitly forbids us from shooting him willy nilly. But, we can’t help but agree with your assessment about who he is.”

Feeling now he was part of team trying to take out a bad guy, rather than just an investigative reporter trying to take out bad guys, he queried them asking,“How can I help?”

“Behave as you would normally if there were no agreement and we are hiding stuff from you. In your conversations with us now and dealings from here on out, you have to be an investigative reporter doing what you would have done normally. Mr. Jack, we think, is going to be watching you to make sure you are on his side.”

“In other words, be a suspicious a**hole with a nose for news as well as a hoax.”

The two men laughed. Bishop responded, “Precisely. And, no, you may be one, but I love your reporting. You are a credit to your profession.”

Claudine came into the room, “Is Jason up to speed?”

“Almost. We have some details to work out. Jason, this is Claudine, my very talented colleague. She is about to travel to Hermisillo to work on a lead she has developed. She believes … ”

“Don’t tell me. If I need to know, I can ask.” Jason looked at Bishop who nodded yes.

After a brief discussion on how they could stay in touch, Bishop said, “It’s your call. Even though you are a reporter, you are a member of the team. If you want to do this from the inside, we would be very happy. If you want to stay on the outside, we are okay with that too and we will catch you up after he is caught.”

“Okay, I think it best if I stay on the outside and let Mr. Jack think he can use me. Will you be able to pick up on my signals if I do?”

“Yes. We have our code words now as well as support personal in place. Good luck.” The men shook hands and Jason left the building. He had his story. He also had an appreciation for an honest detective who respected him. And that was worth its weight in gold.

***

“So, where do you want to go on your Daddy date?” asked Cam after he came home from work.

Jean was veritably giddy as she twirled in the foyer and then let out an excited shriek. There was no doubt in Cam’s mind that Jean was all girl. Jean was ready for his question. She had spent time considering where to go and she had a place in mind. “Well, Daddy, I will have to get dressed up, right? So, that means you have to wear a suit and tie. I bet you look handsome when you are all dolled up too.” she gently teased.

“I was hoping it would be a casual affair.” He said vainly hoping he could change her mind.

Nope. She was all woman. Jean was not going to have any of this casual night out. “No way! I want our date to be special.” Jean giggled and excitedly said. “I want to go to Le Cafe De La Princess et de La Grenouille." Pleased with herself, she announced, "I am off to get dressed.”

Jean left her dad standing there shaking his head. What had he gotten himself into. Sandra, who suggested the whole Daddy date thing, came up behind him and put her arms around his waist. “You got yourself into this mess. I would suggest a nice shower and shave before hand. And, of course, your best suit my love.”

Cam looked at Jean racing up the stairs, “A mess at your urging too I might add. Well, anyway, Honey, when did she become so, so …”

“Girly. That is easy. I think when she found out her Daddy was so macho, macho, man.” She tickled his stomach instead of performing the village people song all the way through. He giggled and slapped her hand that was teasing him playfully away.

“Hey, with you ladies are ganging up on me, a guy around here doesn’t stand a chance.” Cam tried feigning displeasure, but Sandra saw through it as well as his mother who was watching all of the this from the living room.

“Oh, Cam, you know you love it. Sandra’s right. Go take a shower and get your best suit on.” He looked at them both and grinned. They knew him too well. “Go for the double-breasted pin strip. I think it will go with any of her outfits.” Sandra winked at him and nodded in agreement with her mother-in-law. The ladies giggled as he pulled himself up the stairs resigned to doing what they asked.

As he passed Jean’s door, he could hear her frantically going through her closet trying to figure out what to wear. He chuckled. Cam trudged on into the master bedroom and took a quick shower making sure to shave and to look nice. On the way down in his double breasted suit and looking like he was going out on a real date, he heard her shower going. He knew that she must have made a choice. Downstairs, both his wife and mother approved of his outfit as well as fussing over him to make him look perfect.

Cam called and made a reservation, per the suggestion of Sandra, for an hour later. He thought they would be there in thirty minutes, being the restaurant was ten minutes away, but he bowed to the superior knowledge of his wife. And, of course, she was right.

Cam heard a cry from upstairs, “Mom, do you have any primer or concealer. I am running low. I need some help.”

“Yes dear, I will be right up.” Cam watched his wife go upstairs. She was clearly loving this. And, he realized so was he. He would have to tell her later how much, up close and personal, in private, with the door closed and locked.

After an eternity of waiting, Cam, sitting in the living room, stood up to see his sweet little fourteen year old daughter descend the staircase followed by his very proud wife. Jean was in a stunning A line cocktail dress with a princess cowl that nicely hid her youthful breasts. Appropriately modest for a young girl, he thought, but quite sophisticated in how they showed off her well endowed chest. The dress’s olive green went well with her auburn hair too. It was accentuated with a simple belt that had a sequined kind of buckle that beautifully highlighted her mid-drift giving an elegant point of interest that highlighted her slim waist. Her shoes were four inch silver stilettos that were wispy and very mature looking.

And the way she walked in them showed she could be sultry too and quite a catch for a young man. She had a small silver purse hanging from her shoulders. Hanging from her pierced ears were nice tear drop silver snowflakes that glistened as they swayed with her every movement. Around her wrist a was a faux diamond encrusted watch that was as delicate as its wearer. Damn, she looked like her mother, he thought!

After she came down, Cam offered her his arm and said, “M’lady, your chariot awaits.” Jean pinched the side of her dress and curtsied to her dad bowing her head and then just as delicately raising her head and taking his arm. Sandra went ahead of them and opened the front door for them both so Cam could lead her down to his Camry. As he opened the passenger door, and helped her in, she smoothed her dress and turned into the car seat gathering her dress with her knees together as though she had down this a thousand times. She was a natural. Cam was very impressed with her poise and gracefulness.

Jean looked back up at him expressed her gratitude. “Thank you, Daddy. You look so very handsome tonight. Any girl would be blessed to have you as her escort.”

Cam bowed a little and remarked, “And you look like the princess you are.” Jean blushed and giggled. She blew him a kiss. Now he giggled as he closed her door gently.

At the restaurant, he repeated the procedure in reverse. Giving the valet his key, after opening her door, he took her hand and took this little cloud of femininity and ushered her into the restaurant to their waiting table where she ensconced herself on the chair he pulled out for her like she was a feather. He found the feather was light as he helped her pull her chair in too. She crossed her legs, adjusted her dress, and placed the napkin on the table in her with a unified and refined motion of a lady. He noted her nails were nicely matching her dress. He admired how every detail, from her nails, to her hair, to her ear rings all spoke of a lady.

“What would you like tonight?” Cam inquired after sitting down and picking up the menu.

“Oh, I would love some medallions of lamb, if that is okay?” Cam nodded yes appreciating that she was concerned about the price of everything. He didn’t care. She was worth it. But it showed she wasn’t using her womanhood to her advantage. He was proud of her. So very proud to be seen with her too.

He ordered a plain steak with fries. As the two sat and ate their salads, Cam asked, “So, are you going out for cheerleading tomorrow?”

“I don’t know Daddy. I am really scared. I don’t know if I should.”

“How well did you do with ballet?”

“I did okay. Of course, because of the special circumstances, I never danced with others. I just practiced and did solo performances for Mr. Jack with my instructor telling him how well I did.”

“So, what is really concerning you is how well you will work with others since you have never done it before?” added Cam as an observation.

She looked back at her dad as if a light switch had turned on. “I guess you are right. Thanks Daddy. I hadn’t thought of it that way.”

“Does that mean you will give it a try?” Jean nodded yes. “Good. I like to see you try new things and get experience. My little butterfly needs to spread her beautiful wings.” Jean blushed and delicately ate her salad.

As they were served their entrees, Jean confessed, “Boy, I sure wish we could do a father daughter dance for our next date. But, the high school doesn’t seem to have one.” Jean shrugged her shoulders.

Cam sighed and looked at her. “I don’t think that will be a problem. Next month, our church, Fellowship of Life, is doing a father daughter dance. I hadn’t told you, but I have signed us up.” Jean got wide eyed.

Ignoring all decorum, Jean jumped up from her seat and hugged her dad saying “Oh thank you! I love you!” She planted kisses on his cheek. “Now, now. We must behave young lady.” Jean started to correct herself, but, in a second realized that it was her dad not letting go right away as he was planting kisses on her cheek too. She sat back down and continue to have a great meal with her handsome and sophisticated date.

For dessert, she had chocolate mousse and Cam had crème brulee. As he escorted her to their car, they bumped into Mrs. Renaud coming in with her husband. “Oh my word, you look so enchanting my chere petite Mademoiselle Laignaux. Monsieur Laignaux, I so enjoy having your daughter in my French class.”

Jean giggled as Cam put his arm around her and squeezed her tenderly as he thanked her teacher for the nice things she said. “Merci Madame.” she said courteously in response too to her wonderful teacher.

“Of course, do you know you have competition Monsieur Laignaux?” Mrs. Renaud winked at Jean. “I can tell Hank is smitten with you.” Jean smiled and blushed. “And it looks like the feeling is mutual.”

Jean didn’t protest one bit at the moment, but on the way out to the car, Cam could see she was sad. “Don’t worry Princess, I think Hank will find a way for you to be together again. There is something about him that tells me that.”

With hope in her heart, she remarked, “Oh, that would be so nice, Daddy. I really like him.”

Cam hugged her knowing that just as he was reclaiming his princess from an awful dragon, he was about to lose her again to another man. But this time, he mused, it wouldn’t be such a devastating loss as it would be a devastating gain.

***

After Jean had gone to bed, he came into the kitchen for a glass of water. Sandra came in for a cup of sleeping tea. “So, how did your Daddy date go?”

“Wonderful. Why did you have me go on a date with her?”

“Because, my dad did it with me. By taking me on a Daddy date, he taught me how a real man treats a lady and trained me to understand how men should behave around me. It was his way of letting me into his world view of how men were to behave and helping me get over being overly depressed after my first high school prom.” She thought of her confession to Jean about how she lost her virginity. It didn’t seem to be the moment to explain why to a dad who was overly protected of his teenage daughter.

“I must say. I actually enjoyed it immensely. Thank you for suggesting it.”

***

“Grandmama, how did Granddad die?”

Jolted awake by such a question so early in the morning, she took her coffee and looked pale as she sat down to talk to Jean about his passing.

“He had a stroke about six months after Camy was kidnapped. Camy was his little champ. He loved taking Camy for walks and seeing Camy grow. It broke his heart when Camy disappeared. He died about a year after that.”

Jessica and Sammy came into the room. “Why don’t I drive you to school and we can talk more.” she whispered into Jean’s ear. Jean signaled that would be good.

***

“Hey Artemis, what have you got for me?”

“I went down to the factory in Mexico and talked to the staff. I found someone who dealt with someone matching Mr. Jack’s description. Using some of my skills from the old days, I managed to get a revised sketch done of Mr. Jack for you.”

“Can you email me it?”

“Already done. Check your inbox.”

“Thanks. You went above and beyond of what I asked you.”

“No problem. Knowing what this mad man did, I just couldn’t do the bare minimum. How is she doing?”

“She is doing well. If we can get this bastard before he does any more damage, then I think she will have a good life ahead of her.”

Bishop pulled out his laptop and up popped the new sketch. Looking at it, he said out loud, “Damn. I have met you in the last few weeks. But where and when? You look so familiar.”

Picking up his secret phone, he texted Cam. ‘Have something for Jean to look at. When can I see her?’

‘After cheerleading tryouts this afternoon. Figure about 9:30 pm.’

‘Have her meet me at neighbors across the street. Time you met them anyway.’

‘Deal. See you then.’

Just then, he got a text from Tucson. ‘Results in tomorrow. Will be entering it to CODIS right away.’

A knock came at his door, he opened it and smiled.

“Somebody call dial a prayer?”

***

CODIS didn’t cough up anything yet for Bishop as he had hoped. None of the DNA samples yielded anything. Was it a dark hole they fell into? Only time would tell.

A week later, Bishop picked up Claudine at the airport. She had little to report except that they did find the place that did the outfits. It was as she suspected. He had the outfits hand made in Mexico. She had a sketch done of the purchaser. Looking at it and the one Artemis did, they looked very much alike.

At his wits end, Bishop signaled Jason with a simple word left on his desk at work by a pre-arranged method. “Wildcard!” It was a hail Mary pass. Would it work?

***

It was a few days before the DNA tests were going to be completed on Camille. Jason walked into Dr. Larson’s office at the city morgue and sat down. “Can you tell me how DNA works. How does it help identify who is whom?”

“Well, it is blueprint for making you you. It turns out that when you have children, they get half of your blueprint. And in turn, they pass on to their children half of their blueprint of you.”

“Sounds easy.”

“It isn’t and it is. You see, half of the blueprint that you pass to your children is random. Say you have A B C D. You could pass to your boy, A and D, you could pass to you daughter B and C. But, your wife will pass A B C D genes on too. So, she could pass both her B to both children as well. In whatever mixture your child gets, you and your wife will pass along enough DNA to your two children that we can identify them as brother and sister.”

For the next forty-five minutes, Dr. Larson explained how DNA, CODIS, and popular websites like GenTreeMonster.com work. But, for Jason, he got most of the answers he was looking for with the next series of questions. Of course, they were rigged and no one was the wiser. Ironic, since neither Jason or Bishop knew that Paul was really Mr. Jack.

As Jason sat there and finished listening to him, he looked at the photo on Dr. Larson’s desk. He knowingly asked without showing it, “Is this your daughter?”

“Yes, so she has half of my DNA and half of my wife’s DNA.”

Jason picked up the photo and asked, “Does she look more like you or your wife?”

“My wife. So she takes after her good looks.”

“Which aren’t Larson. What are they?”

“Laignaux. Her maiden name is Laignaux.”

“Really?! Thank you Dr. Larson. I appreciate it. By the way, have you and your family ever taken a trip to Mexico?”

“Yes. Two years ago. We went to Cancun. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, nothing. Did you go to the farmer’s market by any chance?”

“Yes, we stayed there a week and enjoyed cooking our own meals.”

“Well, thank you Dr. Larson. You have given me a ton of information. I appreciate you giving me your time to help me understand how DNA works in criminal investigations.”

Jason left and wrote an email to I. B. Anonymous …

I. B.,

I visited with Dr. Larson at the morgue and had a long talk and asked questions about how DNA identification works. I saw a picture of his daughter. She is a Laignaux. She looks exactly like the girl in the photo you sent me. They were in Cancun two years ago. They visited a farmer’s market.

I suspect you are a fraud trying to extort money from the family. I need more proof than just DNA.

Jason

***

At almost the same time, at Langely, the supervisor looked over the work his tech had done. Then he sternly commanded, “Hack into the New Orleans network and upload this to CODIS stat.”

The worker began to do as she was told. “What is the reason for uploading I should give?”

“She was involved in serial prostitution making her eligible for uploading to CODIS since, according to three strikes you are out, she is a felon. So, her blood samples were processed for DNA as part of normal procedure.”

“Very well done. Now we need to work on the Mexican matter …”

***

Bishop got a call from Claudine early the next morning sounding very excited. “We have a hit on CODIS for one of the samples from Tucson.”

“Is it a total match?”

“No, it is a sibling, a brother. He is dead, Bishop. I am trying to get the records now.”

“Doesn’t mater if we can’t talk to him, does it? Email me the particulars when you can. This changes everything doesn’t it, Claudine?”

“Yes, it most certainly does. We finally found our link to a real person. Now all we need to do is find what brother it links to and I hope we will have our villain.”

“Oh, Claudine?”

“Yes?”

“Good work. You are one hell of a detective. I appreciate your hard work.”

“Thank you. That means a lot coming from you.”

The chase was on. Bishop sent an email message to their boss. In the next thirty-six hours, they could have Mr. Jack thanks to the CODIS hit. Bishop felt it in his bones.

***

As Paul left the office that morning, his phone beeped. He scanned the latest message briefly plus an older one. He winced and muttered some expletives. He texted a message that said, ‘Get Plane ready and fully fueled. File flight plan to ELP tonight.’ Looking around after he pressed send, he quickly went back into his office and grabbed a bag under his desk. Then he rushed out and got into his car and headed out in a hurry.

He had things to do. He wasn’t planning on coming back or going away alone.

Copyright © 2017 by AuP reviner



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