Although Liz is in custody, not everything is as fine and dandy as Shay would like Marka to believe. A phone call from one of the agents at the hospital tells him that Frank has escaped. Ordered to stay behind, Marka decides to see what she can find out from the journals. With Rochelle’s help, she starts to read about the events prior to Clay’s death.
Finally, she relented, handing Marka the journal. She wasn’t sure how she felt, reading about Frank’s exploits with another woman. She was rather pleased to see that she’d done all of that and more with him already. Unfortunately, it wasn’t getting them any closer to finding who Liz worked for.
“Ooh, look at this!” She pointed to a scribble in the margin. “Can you read that?”
“Looks like it says Bastian,” Rochelle said after squinting at it.
“Looks like that to me, too,” Marka said. “I wonder who that is.”
“Good idea.” She dialed Shay’s number, but got voice mail.
Concerned, she left a message for him to call her back immediately. Strange that he wouldn’t answer his phone, but perhaps he was on another call and couldn’t stop to take hers. Frustrated, she called Cherry. Again, no one answered at the blue house. Deeply worried now, Marka bit her lip and tried to hold back the tears.
“I feel so helpless,” she told Rochelle. “I know Shay said to stay here, but I can’t. Not when Frank’s in danger.”
“Frank’s in danger? Sounds to me like everyone else is,” Rochelle said honestly. “I know he’s your man, sugar, but from what I’m reading here, he’s a highly trained killing machine.”
“Frank is the kindest, gentlest person I know. If he’s on a mission, it’s because of what that woman did to him.”
“Maybe you can get her to talk.”
“I doubt it. She’d think it was amusing to taunt me about her and Frank. I think I’d end up wanting to kill her with my bare hands.”
“Damn near did that already. Dr. Ninja Deathlock, that’s you.” Rochelle beamed at her. “How’d you learn to do that?”
“Watching Lethal Weapon one too many times.”
“Mm mm mmm. Mel was good looking in his prime.”
“He sure was. Anything else about—that day?”
“Not in this one. How about yours?”
Marka forced herself to concentrate while Rochelle flipped through one of the other journals. She looked for key words, names mostly. Clay was mentioned dozens of times. He and Frank had been as close as brothers. How horrible that he was dead. Frank blamed himself so completely, she wondered how he managed to look his sister in the eye.
“Oh, God,” she whispered. With a trembling hand, she pointed to the entry.
The pages were tear stained and it looked like blood smears across the middle of the page. The words painted a horrifying picture of the day that Clay died.
It was like hell erupted at my feet. I saw the explosion before I heard it—a flash of orange light that erupted into a fireball. The flames rose so high, I could feel them as we flew above it. I forced the pilot to land by threatening to shoot him and fly the bird myself. He set us down and I ran into a raging battle. I ordered him to call it in before I hopped out.
Fighting through the flames and bullets, I found Clay. He was in bad shape. I knew he was going to die and it was my fault. All this was my fault. I oversaw the sweep myself. That road was clear before we started out.
I lost my mind that day. I don’t remember much of what I did, except a lot of people died by my hand. They tell me I’m a hero. I’m no hero. I’m the man who let my buddies down. I’m the man who watched his brother die in his arms. I’m the man who has to tell his little sister that the man she loves is coming home in a box.
He went on to describe how he had planned the route, seen to the mine sweeping personally and overseen every possible aspect of the mission. That was Frank—calm, efficient, controlling. He left nothing to chance. The fact something went wrong and people died, angered and frustrated him. That his body was damaged in the process didn’t upset him, except that it kept him from finding out what had happened.
Liz came by. She said she had information about the bombing. She’s going to bring it by later. She keeps saying it’s not my fault—everyone says that, but she promised to help me find out the truth. She’s taking me to meet a witness. Maybe he can tell me what really happened.
Marka gasped, her hand going to her mouth. She pointed to the incriminating entry.
“That’s not enough to hang her. There must be more.”
“Probably, but it’s enough for Shay. I wish I could reach him.”
Alarm bells rang, their deafening clanging filling the small room. Rochelle reached for her weapon with one hand, her radio with the other.
“Talk to me,” she yelled over the din.
A garbled voice answered her. Marka couldn’t hear the words over the alarm. She sat, hunched over, her hands over her ears. Gunfire erupted in the corridor a few yards away. Rochelle pushed Marka under the table before going to the door. She locked it from the inside. Yelling, followed by more gunfire, moved past their room and down the hallway.
The alarm lessened, or Marka grew used to it. Rochelle talked continuously on her radio. She made Marka stay under the table and took up a defensive position by the door.
© Dellani Oakes