So Terry went home, Arnie went to bed, and Truc stared through the file a while longer before sleeping over at Arnie’s place. When Terry got home, he sensed someone had been there; everything was not where he left it (but the intruder didn’t trash the place.) Great.
The next morning he texted Arnie to let him know his place had been broken into, all clean and quiet. Then he headed to work. Arnie woke Truc up and told him about it, and Truc had a quiet sense of professional curiosity, wanting to see the thief’s handiwork. Also, he knew where Terry lived, because it had come up in conversation previously. So, they decided to go take a look.
Traffic was suspiciously fine. They made it to Terry’s apartment building. Truc buzzed all the apartments, knowing someone would let him in (and someone did.) They headed up to Terry’s place on the sixth floor. No new or unusual scratches on the lock.
They looked the place over. Truc noticed the patio door to the shallow balcony, and in the bathroom he saw that the very small window had been opened recently (and it was not often opened.) Looking out, he saw that someone had climbed over from the balcony. And this was on the sixth floor. So, the intruder was a great climber and quite slim.
Arnie meanwhile noticed that the computer had been fiddled with, but it was old and didn’t have anything useful on it. (At a glance, anyway; they didn’t turn it on.) Also a drawer of personal files had been riffled. He headed into the kitchen and saw a delightful little one-serving coffee maker (a cute little Keurig), and a cabinet tumbled full of little cups. He also noticed the water supply had something grainy in it, and that coffee had been made that morning.
Arnie looked at the sediment more closely, but couldn’t tell anything about it. Still, they were concerned. Arnie sent Terry a text that the coffee might have been poisoned, and as a side note, they were in his apartment.
Meanwhile Terry had felt a numbing tingle in his left arm, and realized he was having a heart attack; he downed a handful of asprin and called an ambulance, before passing out.
Terry made it to the hospital so the staff could work on him, but he felt terrible, and was not doing well. Truc and Arnie called his work and found out he had been taken to St. Ellsworth hospital, so they rushed to the hospital, taking the naughty Keurig with them.
Terry was briefly lucid, and his knowledge of science narrowed it down the chemical it likely was, and how to treat it, before he lapsed again into unconsciousness.
They had difficulty finding someone to talk to about the poison, because the nurses were Teflon-coated busy and the doctors had wraithlike abilities to completely avoid contact with people. They consulted Terry’s chart to find that his doctor was Dr. Evan Wilson, and they headed out to the nurse station.
Identifying an unpopular nurse, they gossipped about her next to the nurse station until one of the nurses jumped in enthusiastically. Then they persuaded her to locate Dr. Wilson for them, and she did; nurses were like bounty hunters when it came to tracking down elusive doctors.
When Wilson showed, and they presented their coffee maker, he was alarmed; the current drugs were worse than useless, could damage him if it was this poison. He immediately made the switch to a different treatment, and the improvement in Terry’s condition was apparent.
Time to Go
Truc and Arnie stepped out to finish off contact with the nurse, and Special Agent Waters came by to see Terry.
He warned Terry this was not the first poisoning, and said he hated to see him like this. But the hospital wasn’t safe. And he gave him three little red pills; he left as Truc and Arnie returned.
They recognized the drug as an amphetamine, Red Headed Stepchild, used to get battered fighters up on their feet and drug overdose victims moving again. Terry took the drug, and got an unholy rush of nervous energy. They got him back into his clothes, collected his gun and badge, and checked him out all stealthy like.
Somebody had stolen the handicapped sign, but it was still a handicapped spot, and there was a parking ticket on Arnie’s car.
In the car, Terry was forced to slow down; that led to… unpleasant hallucinations.
They headed back to Arnie’s place, and Arnie had a drug designed to level out an overdose. Terry took it, and his heart didn’t explode, so… alright so far. They determined they had better check on the P.I., Keys.
Elliott Keys, P.I.
They drove over to his place, a home office in the upper back quarter of a divided up former mansion. While Terry fumed and paced in front of the building, Arnie and Truc mounted the two story staircase bolted to the side of the building, still deciding whether to sneak in or stroll in.
They saw into the office, where Keys was passed out drunk at his desk snoring. Truc snuck in and looked the desk over, seeing the detective’s case notebook. He tossed it out to Arnie, who read it over quickly and took pictures of the pages with his phone.
Turns out the detective was hired by Dr. Cook after her meeting with Terry in the hall. She wanted him to investigate Wilcox and Buck. He did, finding that Wilcox was actually a cover identity provided by the Underground, a shady criminal organization.
Keys had contacts with them, so he found out Wilcox’s true identity. He was a con man, Sam Chandler, a native, with a decade long prison record. He got hired at the EPA mid-December and was already indispensable.
Keys looked into Buck, and heard about Terry there too, which was interesting.
They put his notebook back and snuck out, undetected. They collected Terry where he was ranting at a woman on the street, and left. The drugs were taking a toll on Terry, who deflated some in the back seat.
What now? They decided to have a conversation with Bermuda.
Traffic was a gnarled mess on the way over; they forgot about the marathon that started Downtown. Yeah, in January. And it was supposed to sleet later. The radio personalities were making fun of the marathon and hoping it would get sleeted on.
They arrived outside Bermuda’s building just as he was headed to his car to leave; they assumed it was him, as he was wearing a floral shirt, sunglasses, socks and sandals.
Arnie positioned the car as though waiting for his spot, as Truc left the back of the car and circled around Bermuda. He said it was time for a conversation; Bermuda pulled a stun gun, and Truc shook it loose. Bermuda called for the cops, and Terry popped up, all overdosed and looking like death warmed over. They all agreed to move the conversation to the lobby of the apartment building.
Bermuda agreed to talk about Savage D for $200, and Arnie showed up from parking in time to help out with that. Turns out Savage D had a heart attack last night. Who hired him? Bermuda wanted another $200 for that, as it was more dangerous, and they agreed.
Savage D was trying to move up in the world, getting $5,000 per hit against civilians, paid in a brown paper bag. There was no solid evidence or paper trail, but from what he overheard, Bermuda thought he was working for a woman with mob connections named Tanya Stevens. She operated out of the VIP boxes in Fenwick Gardens, the massive sports entertainment venue underground below Downtown. And she has a tough bodyguard.
The Edge of Escalation
They let him go, and Terry called in a favor at the office to have Stevens’ file pulled. He got the main points over the phone; she was supposed to be hired sort of through nepotism, likely connections to the Chicago mob, no criminal record, bodyguard named Marvin Parks who was some kind of Zen master. He DID have a criminal record, big fan of civil disobedience for the rights of marginalized groups.
Hm. They returned to the car, and Terry reluctantly called Special Agent Waters to see if he could bring in Federal help on this matter. He agreed to meet them, at a parking structure on the 4th floor in 30 minutes.
The temperature was steadily dropping, and they found the parking structure’s 4th floor was closed for construction, with an office area already walled in but unfinished. They saw Agent Waters’ rental car, and his thin form waiting for them.
He told them they were on the edge of something big enough to be deadly, and that loose ends were being tied up now to prevent tracing back to anything bigger. He talked to some people on their behalf, and got them the chance to walk away. If they let this lay, then they wouldn’t be loose ends. If they kept digging, well…
Arnie and Truc doubled down and said they planned to see this through, while Terry was strangely quiet. Waters shrugged, wished them well, and drove away, leaving them in the increasingly deep and unpleasant cold…
The End! For now!