The Innocent Chapter 4: Leonard and Tajiri
Chapter 4: Leonard and Tajiri
Jodie Slate sat down at the outdoor table of the Providence, Rhode Island coffee shop. The sun was bright and warm against her back. Just warm enough to relax for a minute while she waited for her guest. She put her tea on the table in front of her and added a packet of sugar. Dustin Reynolds would have had a black coffee, but since Jodie Slate was a tea drinker it would have to do. Especially since Dustin Reynolds was declared dead by the morgue at Havenville Penitentiary a very long time ago.
“Good morning,” Jodie said as the man she was sent to meet sat down across the table from her. He was a tall man in his late thirties or early forties. It was hard to tell age on a man who had surgically altered his appearance. He had light brown hair that had begun graying at the edges and his skin was dark from the sun. He wore a pair or round glasses on his face that was surrounded with the stubble of a week or two of not shaving.
“Good morning,” the man grumpily said as he grumpily tossed his car keys on the table. His name was James Lockhart. He had been on the FBI’s most wanted list for most of his adult life. So far he had been lucky in staying out of handcuffs. “Are you going to tell me what you want or just stir your tea like some kind of daft dame?”
Jodie smiled. “I was sent here by an old associate of yours who has requested your services,” she said. She slid a small manilla envelope across the table. Lockhart snatched it up greedily and took the papers out from the inside.
“Oh yes,” Lockhart said. “I was wondering what had happened to him. So he’s running Havenville now is he?”
“Yes,” Jodie said. “And he needs a man of your talent to finish his experiments.”
“And how do I know you’re being completely honest with me?” Lockhart asked closing the envelope and passing it back to Jodie where she put it in her purse.
“Would I have been able to track you down without the Warden’s help?” she asked.
Lockhart laughed. “The Warden,” he mused. “I have to admit the title suits him very well.”
“What do you say to his offer?” Jodie asked.
“Most intriguing,” Lockhart replied. “But it’s been more than a decade since I’ve worked with him.”
“The Warden’s given you more than enough information there to bury him if you see fit,” Jodie said after sipping her tea. “He trusts and values you enough to give you that as a gift to sway your decision.”
“He’s brainwashed you fairly well, lovey,” Lockhart said looking into the eyes of the woman sitting across from him. “I suppose I’ve needed a change of scenery for quite some time now. It grows tiresome working in basement laboratories rather than a nicer and cleaner environment.”
“So then your answer is yes?” Jodie asked.
“Yes,” Lockhart said. “But breaking into a prison as fortified as Havenville is is no easy task, my dear.”
“That’s not a problem,” Jodie said placing a set of handcuffs and a badge on the table. “Jodie Slate, FBI,” she said standing up and putting her hand on the gun on her waist. “You’re under arrest for crimes against humanity. Come along peacefully and you don’t have to get hurt.”
Lockhart laughed. “Most intriguing indeed,” he said.
Wolfsky looked out at the fortresslike walls of Havenville Penitentiary thinking of Xander’s request from two nights before. He knew who Leonard Kelly and Kai Tajiri were from reputation rather than any type of meeting, and the fact that Xander needed to meet them solidified in his mind that the man named Xander Zane wasn’t at all what he said he was.
The man who called himself Xander Zane was indeed a mystery. Usually Wolfsky would distance himself as far as possible (or in this case distance Xander away from him since Xander had taken up residence in Wolfsky’s space), but this man had piqued Wolfsky’s curiosity. He found himself trying to unravel the mystery more and more since Xander had shown up in Wolfsky’s cell so many days ago.
A cloud floated by the sun and the shade engulfed Wolfsky as he sat on his bench. The other inmates left him alone when he was deep in thought. They knew better than to disturbed the beast of a man when he was calm. He had a small stack of hand-written books next to him on the bench. Havenville was equipped with a generous library, but Wolfsky loved reading what was written on the inside of Havenville immensely. He felt it was a way to sneak a look into the soul of the man who wrote it. Wolfsky had even inadvertently started the Havenville Secret Library which was a network of book traders throughout the prison.
Wolfsky had meant to catch up on his reading outside since it was such a lovely day and the inmate written fiction had been quite good as of late, but he found himself much to distracted.
It had been three days since Xander had made his request. Wolfsky hadn’t said anything, but Xander hadn’t brought it back up. Either he believed Wolfsky was a man of his word and knew he’d come through, or he was too intimidated to keep bugging Wolfsky. Either way Wolfsky intended to make good on the deal. He just found himself trying to figure it all out before attempting to get Xander in touch with those two.
Wolfsky knew precious little about the pair of men he was asked to contact. He would be able to identify them if he passed them in the rec yard or in the halls of Havenville, but he had never had any kind of interaction from either one.
He knew Leonard Kelly was the guy to go to if you ever needed anything made (although the cost was very high). Leonard Kelly had been somewhat of a terrorist of sorts when the government caught up to him in his New England hideaway making explosives and some kind of robotic apparatuses.
Kai Tajiri was a completely different story. If what little Wolfsky knew was correct he was a member of some Japanese mafia outfit and was doing some work in New York when he got pinched for a double homicide. On the inside having him on your side meant having access to Havenville at night. He was somehow able to get out of his cell after lights out and sneak around undetected (which was something known to very few people).
Wolfsky resolved to make contact that night after chow. He knew the pair was above them in Upper C and had a cell in the mid thirties or so. Wolfsky would even have chow with Xander and point them out. He’d make good on his promise and get a better reading what Xander was up to in the process.
Wolfsky smiled to himself. He was finally able to relax. He picked up a composition book from his stack of books and continued to read the murder mystery saga written by the convicted felon from Lower A block.
Xander waited in the chow line with Wolfsky in front of him. Wolfsky had advised him in the past to not be around him in the mess hall and to stick to his own kind to not arouse trouble. He discovered that Wolfsky was the exception to his own rule (which was often the case with Wolfsky). When Wolfsky came back to their cell with his stack of hand drawn books he told Xander he would point out Tajiri and Leonard tonight in the mess hall. It turned out the duo was also in the C Block on the upper level. Xander got his tray of gray meat in grayer gravy the small cardboard sign labeled as “Salisbury Steak”. He sat down at the long table on the small attached stool next to Wolfsky and took a bite out of his bread while Wolfsky surveyed the room with his hands folded over his tray. Someone not trained to notice the look in Wolfsky’s eyes might have assumed he was praying over his meal.
“Second table from the back wall,” Wolfsky said. “About a quarter way down. The one in the glasses is Leonard Kelly. The Asian man sitting to his left is Kai Tajiri.”
Xander observed the two men eating their meal without staring and causing suspicion. Leonard Kelly was a shorter man with brown hair and thick black rimmed glasses. Tajiri was only slightly taller with jet back hair and a goatee to match. The two seemed to be speaking in hushed voices over their meal.
“Any way I can meet with them somewhere private?” Xander asked.
“Private?” Wolfsky asked. “In Havenville?”
“I thought you’d be the guy in the know,” Xander said before taking a sip of warm water from his brown plastic mug.
Wolfsky was quiet for a moment with his hands still folded over his untouched meal. “Wolfsky knows a place,” he finally said with his gaze back over to Leonard and Tajiri. “You just have to hope those two want to meet you.”
“Good point,” Xander said. “I don’t suppose you’d know how to reach out to them without looking desperate?”
Wolfsky laughed a little and started to eat his cold meat. “Wolfsky already has,” he said as a small piece of paper landed between the two from behind them. Wolfsky opened it and read it briefly before eating it along with his meat and gravy. Xander thought it might be an improvement on the food. “Chapel,” Wolfsky said once his food and paper were swallowed. “One hour.”
Dusk was nearing when Wolfsky and Xander found their way to the Chapel located outside the West yard of Havenville Penitentiary. The place was deserted except for two guards who patrolled the front area holding their stun guns in front of them ready to fire on anyone who made a ruckus. They were also watched by guards in the towers who were armed with things much deadlier than stun guns.
Wolfsky led Xander to the back row where they sat. The place seemed deserted, but Wolfsky had told Xander that the Chaplan had lived here and would likely be around to comfort anyone in need of him prior to lights out.
“Are you sure they’ll come?” Xander asked as they say in the pew.
“Not at all,” Wolfsky said. “Wolfsky only knows of them through association. I’ve never done business with either of them.”
Xander almost asked Wolfsky if he would wait outside, but thought better of it before the request slipped from his mouth. He found it amazing enough that Wolfsky had come so close to the truth and still chose to go along with what he had proposed. He wondered what Wolfsky’s true intentions really were, but pushed the thought out of his head as Leonard and Tajiri entered the chapel.
“Could’ve picked somewhere less depressing,” Leonard said sitting in the pew in front of Wolfsky and Xander. Tajiri sat down next to Leonard without saying a word. “You dragged us over here, now make it quick. If we’re not back by lights out they’ll toss us all in the hole for a day. And for the love of god, if you ask me to make you a fucking fifi I’m going to go nuts.”
“I need your assistance,” Xander said simply. “This isn’t one item or one request. I need the two of you to help me carry out my mission to dig up as much dirt on Warden Greene as possible, hand it over to my superiors, and shut down the illegal operations that are going on in secret in this facility.”
Not to Xander’s surprise his request had caused silence. He knew laying out the request was risky, but according to intel from Chris Wells these two were worth taking the risk.
“Who the fuck are you?” Leonard asked quietly.
“Xander Zane,” Xander said. “In here at least. Outside I’m undercover FBI.”
“And we’re supposed to believe that?” Tajiri said with a vague Japanese accent breaking his silence. “The FBI put me in here. What makes you think I’d want to help you.”
“I didn’t come empty handed,” Xander said. “For Leonard I have a job offer upon his release into FBI custody. We have great interest in you and your expertise in home-grown terrorism, bomb making slash disarming, technology expertise, and your over all genius.”
“You know how to make a guy blush,” Leonard said.
“For you, Tajiri,” Xander continued. “Your freedom. On the one condition you leave United States soil never to return.”
“Not possible,” Tajiri said. “I’m in for double homicide.”
“We don’t believe that,” Xander said. “We have reliable intel that says you took the fall for your boss Tanaka in exchange for your family being relocated and kept safe.”
“Fuck off,” Tajiri said. He stood up and walked out of the church. Leonard got up and followed reluctantly.
“That went well,” Wolfsky said. He was so quiet during the meeting Xander nearly jumped when he spoke.
“It could’ve went better,” Xander agreed.
“You’re looking at Tajiri’s situation the wrong way,” Wolfsky said. “You should know how the people he worked for operates.”
Xander thought on it for a moment. His job was to make the deals with Leonard and Tajiri. Not to modify them if at all possible. He realized then that Tajiri’s incarceration for his boss’s murders was what was keeping his family alive. Tajiri’s family wasn’t being kept safe. They were being held hostage. Xander cursed himself for not thinking it through sooner.
“I don’t suppose you had a deal for Wolfsky too?” Wolfsky said with the hint of a smile on his face.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t,” Xander said not knowing to take what Wolfsky had just said a joke or not. “Getting you involved was coincidental and out of necessity. If I make it back to the outside I can try and work something out if you’d like, but I can’ make any guarantees.”
Wolfsky laughed. “The FBI doesn’t have anything to offer Wolfsky,” he said. “Nothing Wolfsky’ll take anyway. Wolfsky’ll stick around though. This is the most interesting thing to happen in here in a long time.”
Leonard Kelly put down the small piece of metal he was tinkering with. With luck he’d be able to fashion some kind of small grappling device that would help Tajiri get around the prison easier at night. Every time Tajiri snuck out of their cell clad completely in black he put is life at risk. And why not? Death during his life sentence in Havenville would guarantee his family’s safety.
Leonard was only six years into his thirty to forty five year sentence for being what they called a home-grown terrorist. He hadn’t killed anyone either, and only a few people had been injured. He was only giving back to people what was their’s to begin with. When Robin Hood did it he was a hero. When Leonard Kelly did it he was a terrorist and an anarchist. And why did he do what he did? For a girl. It’s always for a girl. A girl that hadn’t even visited him when he went down for the cause. HER cause. Conjugal or otherwise.
And then Xander Zane walks into his life and everything changes. Well, everything could change. If he agreed to help (and Xander was successful he supposed) he’d have his ticket out of here. Sure, Leonard would be released to FBI custody and forced to work for them like a nerdy Hannibal Lector, but he’d be able to breath the air on the outside of these walls again. He’d be able to get a bacon double cheeseburger and a strawberry shake instead of mystery meat, stale bread, and water.
All that stood in his way was a stubborn Japanese man named Kai Tajiri. A man who had been his best friend and confidant for the last six years of his life.
“I’ve been thinking about that Xander guy,” Leonard said quietly to the silent Tajiri. He hadn’t spoken since they left the chapel and made their way back to their cell before lights out.
“What of him?” Tajiri asked.
“He seems legit to me,” Leonard said. “It may be a ticket out of here.”
“If you want to join along in the boy scout’s mission go right ahead,” Tajiri said. “Knock yourself out. You know I won’t hold it against you.”
“Come on,” Leonard said. “I’m sure if you ask nicely he’d let you stay in here when the job’s done. You know what’s going on here. You know about quarantine wing and max lockup. You’ve been saying for years that someone should take down Warden Greene. Now you have a chance.”
Leonard was greeted by silence that either meant Tajiri was done with this conversation or he was giving consideration to what Leonard had said. “We’ll meet one last time,” Tajiri finally said. “I’ll hear the boy scout out. If I like what I hear I’m in.”
Xander awoke the next morning feeling pessimistic about gaining the trust and assistance of the two men he desperately needed. He had gained the trust and assistance of Wolfsky by revealing his true intentions, but Xander still worried that he only had Wolfsky until he grew bored of this game. He definitely wasn’t expecting what was waiting for him between the bars of his cell.
Xander reached out and grabbed the small piece of paper with an X on the front of it. He carefully unfolded it and read the note inside that looked like it may have been written with a tiny pin. The note simply said ‘Washroom. 10.” He imitated Wolfsky by putting the paper in his mouth and swallowing with a handful of sink water.
Wolfsky was able to sneak Xander into the washroom fairly quickly. The rows of huge washers and dryers lined both sides of the rooms and would be full of convicts looking to earn a nice little note in their file by doing the prison laundry usually, but today it wasn’t in operation. Xander breathed in the air with the scent of cheap detergent as they waited.
Before long Tajiri entered the room followed by Leonard who had an odd look of satisfaction on his face.
“I’m glad you decided to talk again,” Xander said. “I didn’t mean any offense…”
“Look,” Tajiri said cutting Xander off. “Whatever I decide to do for you, I need to stay here in Havenville. Your offer is nice, but I’ll be staying. I’m guilty, and that’s all that is to it.”
“Understood,” Xander said.
“If you have the chance make sure your fed buddies understand that too,” Tajiri said.
“I’ll be sure to pass it along,” Xander said unsure how he’d relay it to Charles next time he’d stop in for an update on Xander’s progress.
“What we’re trying to say is that we’re in,” Leonard said. “Nothing would bring me greater pleasure than shitting all over the Warden’s smiling face.”
“Colorful imagery aside,” Xander said. “I’m glad you’ve decided to help. We have a lot to discuss and plan.”
“Not so fast,” Leonard said. “Tajiri and I aren’t so sure we could trust you just yet. I think you need to give us a little something in return.”
Xander tried not to sigh. He could see working with Leonard Kelly was going to be harder than it seemed on paper. “What do you have in mind?” he asked.
“Background,” Tajiri said. “You know us. How about we get to know you.”
“Not your whole life story,” Leonard added. “Just enough so we know we’re joining a righteous man on a holy crusade.”
“Wolfsky would also be most interested in learning more about you, Xander,” Wolfsky said.
This time Xander did sigh out loud. Rule number one was to not blow cover under any circumstances. Of course the guys who wrote the rules weren’t asking three convicts to help overthrow a Warden that was actually a criminal mastermind and an all around evil son of a bitch. He was asking these three to put their lives on the line and all they asked in exchange was a story. They already knew who he was. That alone would get Xander killed.
“Is this area secure?” Xander asked.
“Yes,” Wolfsky said. “Nobody but us will be down here today. Nobody will hear.”
Xander didn’t know how Wolfsky knew that for sure, but he figured not to question his information. Not yet anyway. There may come a time where Xander would need to know how exactly Wolfsky’s network of information worked, but today wasn’t that day. Today the three men who were now on his side only wanted to hear of the man who’d be leading them.
“Alright,” Xander said after thinking a little bit. “The best place to start would be around nine months ago.”