The Innocent Chapter 9: Leonard on the Outside
Chapter 9: Leonard on the Outside
Jodie Slate was about to make Warden Greene a very happy man.
After meeting a visibly freaked out FBI agent, she was able to get enough information to decipher the fact that they had sent a second Black Agent into Havenville Penitentiary. One of her missions was to find out any information she can about the inmate named Chris Wells, but so far she was coming up short.
The identities and missions of a Black Agent are kept under lock and key, and Jodie had access to neither. She coudn’t ask about Chris Wells or Havenville since it wasn’t the original Jodie Slate’s beat, and she didn’t know Wells’ real name on the outside.
Finding out information on this Peter Frost was proving to be just as difficult as well. He had no desk. No pictures. Nothing. There wasn’t even anything on the internet with his picture. With no picture and no idea on what his name on the inside would be, she had no leads.
It was time to once again put her feminine wiles to work.
Edward Glenn was shifting through the paperwork on his desk with Jodie came in. “I was wondering if you could answer a question for me,” she said in the chair across from the balding middle-aged man and crossing her legs. “There was this guy that used to work here. Frost. What ever happened to him?”
Glenn took off his glasses and stared at Slate for a moment. “He had family troubles and quit,” he said. “His wife moved off to go back to her childhood home, and Frost followed after her.”
Jodie expected this answer. It was almost the cookie-cutter type response she got from anywhere else. “What a shame,” Jodie said almost purring. “He was a good guy. Any way I could get in touch with him?”
“I’m sorry, but no,” Glenn said. “I can’t give out his personal information. Not even to an old friend.”
So he did have the information on where Frost was supposed to be but wouldn’t just hand it over. “Well I guess if you can’t help it’s out of my hands,” Jodie said. “I just wanted to catch up. You want to get some drinks tonight by chance? I’m buying.”
The next morning Jodie Slate came to work early to catch up on some paperwork. She showed her I.D. to the security guards, got her bag searched, and went through the metal detectors before making her way to the field offices. She had the area to herself for a moment, and that was a good thing. She didn’t want anyone to notice her unlocking and entering Glenn’s office. Not until she was long gone anyway.
“That was great,” Glenn said the night before in the same hotel room Jodie used for her last interrogation. “What the hell happened to you while you were on that mission?”
“What do you mean?” Jodie asked coming back into the room. She had two unlit cigarettes in her hand.
“I always remembered you were a bit prudish,” Glenn said. “No offense.”
“None taken,” Jodie said handing Glenn a cigarette.
“I quit smoking,” he said quickly handing it back.
“Oh come on,” Jodie said lighting her own. “What’s the matter? Don’t want your wife to find out?”
Glenn snatched the cigarette out of her hand with a defiant glare that she figured he thought was sexy. Sex with Glenn was fast and sloppy, and she just wanted him to light his cigarette, keel over, and die. That way she could end this disgusting game and get his cards and keys to his office.
So on the morning Jodie Slate entered Glenn’s office, he was currently decomposing on the hotel room bed where died. Jodie snuck in and went to the locked file cabinet under his desk. She quickly jimmied the combination lock open and looked at the small cache of files. There were less than twenty Black Agents currently in the field, so when the name FROST jumped out at her she snatched the thick file and put it in her purse. Then she walked out of the FBI Field Office before someone could question why she had gone in, or why one of the bosses was no dead in a hotel room under her name.
The man once known as Peter Frost sat in front of the glass booth looking at his contact Charles Munson on the morning Jodie Slate walked out of the FBI field office in Boston. Over a month and half had passed since Charles’ last visit. Xander had a lot of information to pass along and no idea how to put it all into code without anyone listening in deciphering it.
“How are things?” Charles said in his annoying monotone voice. Xander didn’t need to figure this statement out. He was looking for an update and looking for it quickly. He knew as soon as he thought he had enough Charles would be out the door. Charles’ disdain for his part in this mission was unnerving Xander. Charles wasn’t the one on the inside.
“Everything is going fine,” Xander said keeping his temper under control. His statement was code for: I have made progress.
“That’s good,” Charles said. “How are you coming along?” Code for: What have you found out?
This was where the conversation would get tricky. There wasn’t any real way for Xander to say exactly where he had gone or what he saw. “I got a job in the kitchens,” Xander said to fill in the silence.
“Is that so,” Charles said with a puzzled look on his face. Xander imagined he was trying to fill in the code. “What prompted that?”
“Rehabilitation I guess,” Xander said. “Trying to score points for the parole board.”
Charles got the same dull look on his face as if he was trying to do calculus in his head. “Anything else?” he asked looking annoyed. Xander thought he heard one of the guards shift his weight.
“I’ve been moving around the prison when I get the chance,” Xander said taking a risk that Charles would somehow understand. “There’s some very interesting things around here. Some of the guys have been showing me around.”
“Oh,” Charles said with a strange look. He was getting harder to read. “Well I should be going.”
“So soon?” Xander asked with his annoyance getting the best of him. “You only just got here. Are you sure you don’t want to stay and chat?”
“It’s a long drive back,” Charles said.
“It was a long drive to get here.”
“Look,” Charles said. “I really need to get back on the road.”
“Fine,” Xander said slamming the phone back down. He turned his back on Charles not caring if he ever showed up again.
Leonard was tinkering with a small device when Xander came into his cell and leaned up against the wall. Leonard could see right away he wasn’t happy. “Penny for your thoughts,” Leonard said with a sigh.
“It’s nothing,” Xander said. “My friend comes in, gets so little info, then bolts. It’s infuriating.”
Leonard lifted an eyebrow. “This wouldn’t be your friend from work, would it?” he asked.
“That’s him,” Xander said.
“Who needs him,” Leonard said. “Once you’re on the inside they stop visiting quickly. I haven’t had a friend come in to see me in years. I can’t even remember their faces. Fuck ’em.”
Xander was confused. He knew Leonard had a few associates on the outside before the arrest that drove him behind bars, but he didn’t know he considered any of them friends. His profile had said he was a loner and didn’t work well with others. The members of the group he was in all testified that Leonard worked behind all their backs to his own ends. Just his relationship with Tajiri would prove them wrong, but maybe being on the inside changes people more than just on the surface.
“You never told me about what got you locked up,” Xander said.
“I’m sure you know,” Leonard said.
“I know what a piece of paper says,” Xander said. “But that’s not always the full story.”
Leonard sighed and put down the small device he was working on he pulled his blanket over it so nobody walking by would see it. Xander thought it resembled a small phone of some kind. “It’s almost never the full story,” he said. “What do you really care any way? Aren’t I just part of the job?”
Xander considered it for a moment. It was true he had originally contacted Leonard and Tajiri as part of his job, but after what happened in the Quarantine Wing the pair began to grow on him. “You’re not just part of the job,” Xander said. “And I really want to know what happened.”
“Well then buckle up,” Leonard said. “What you’re about to hear is the long and sordid thrill ride that is the life of Leonard Kelly.”
“It was all for a girl,” Tajiri said from his bunk.
“Can I tell the story?” Leonard said spinning around. “He wants to hear it from me!”
“Alright, Capone,” Tajiri said going back to his book. “But it was all for a girl.”
“Come on!” Leonard said turning away from a smiling Tajiri. He looked Xander in the face and began to tell his story. “Like most of the all time great crimes, it was all for a girl.”
Leonard walked through the streets of Hartford, CT on a cold Winter’s day. He was bundled up fairy well, but the wind still froze him to the bone. He ran into the red brick building at the end of John Street and met the friends he had made over the last month.
They called themselves The Ducks. Leonard thought it was such a stupid name for a group of people trying to overthrow a government (or at least make a small dent in Connecticut’s government), but the group agreed on naming themselves something inconspicuous. If Leonard had been part of the group in the beginning he would have suggested something better like “The Geese”.
“It’s colder than a witch’s tit,” Leonard said closing the door behind him. He quickly got dirty looks from half the members. There were twelve all together (himself included). A few of them still reminisced about the days and weeks they camped out on the New Haven green as part of the 99% protest. Leonard still had trouble trying to figure out what they were trying to accomplish with that movement, and every time he asked all he got was a long-winded explanation on how the rich kept everything for themselves and didn’t share. It was a little ironic that they were protesting people who were working for their fortunes by not working for months on end.
But Leonard wasn’t there for them. He was there for Penelope. Penelope Saunders. One of the few girls that didn’t go rummaging through her purse for her pepper spray when Leonard came by to talk to her. She always smelled like flowers and was always friendly. The only problem was since she was best looking woman of the group (which admittedly only had three females) the other guys would constantly hover around her. The fact that the other two women of the group were married to each other didn’t help matters.
Leonard had met Penelope by chance two months earlier in a community college class. Leonard was taking some engineering courses (he was pretty bored, but he needed the credit to get a better job). When it came time to pair up in the lab, nobody would sit with Leonard. It was their loss, really. Leonard would resolve to do all the work in order to not speak to whatever jerk would sit with him, but he was blessed when Penelope Saunders sat at his table.
“Mind if we pair up?” she asked. “I don’t really know anyone here.”
Leonard was taken aback right away. She had strawberry blonde hair and stunning blue eyes. “Not at all,” Leonard said after a way too long pause.
“Good,” Penelope said setting her bag on the chair beside her and sitting down. “I hope you’ve been paying attention. I’m completely lost.”
Leonard smiled and began setting up the lab.
Penelope partnered up on every lab class they had from that day forward. They even began studying for their quizzes and tests together in the common rooms of the small school. Soon after they had a regular meeting time and would discuss life as well as their schooling. This was how Leonard first heard about The Ducks.
“We’re taking back our freedoms!” Penelope said excitedly. “You should hear their ideas.”
Leonard wanted to shake her and yell in her face. She was wasting her time with these people. He’d heard a hundred stories about a hundred groups who had tried doing this kind of stuff going back as far as he could remember. They never got anywhere and usually gave up at the first major adversity they’d come across. They were the worst place for Penelope to be, and Leonard wanted no part of it.
“You should come to a meeting!” Penelope said suddenly. “The group could really use someone as smart as you!”
And that was how Leonard had come to be one of The Ducks.
“How are you, Pen,” Leonard said taking off his jacket and draping it over a chair.
“Good,” Penelope said. “We were talking about our protest at the capital next week!”
Penelope was clearly excited, so Leonard suppressed his frown. The Ducks (ha!) wanted to wear masks and protest at the capital holding up signs about unfair wage laws or something of that nature. Leonard was often bored with the causes the group chose. They voted to take him on because of his knowledge of how things work and how to create devices, but Leonard knew they took him on because they’d do just about anything Penelope asked of them. All they really did was plan, and when they weren’t planning they would talk about planning or talk about what to do after they did what they planned. After that, they usually smoked weed and talked about how the government fucked them all over.
“Look,” Leonard said interrupting the group that was looking at a map of Hartford. He didn’t see what the point was since they’d have no trouble locating it. It was the big white building in the middle of Hartford, after all. “If you really want to make an impact we have to go bigger. There’s only so much a group of twelve people in duck masks can accomplish.” Leonard was pleased to see Penelope beaming at him. She had the same frustration about how slow the group moved.
“And what does the little white-collar in training want to do,” Cody asked. He was the clear leader of the group even though there was no vote on it. Leonard assumed he was leader just because he was tall, ruggedly handsome, and the biggest jerk there.
“I can rig a small explosive in the five-gallon drum,” Leonard said.
“Whoa!” Cody said. “Are you talking about setting off a dirty bomb in the middle of Hartford? We aren’t terrorists!”
Leonard sighed loudly. Now he had three quarters of the group giving him dirty looks. “If you want to be taken seriously, you have to take bigger steps,” he said. “You can either be the joke at the end of the eleven o’clock news or the headline of every channel. It’s your choice.”
“But a dirty bomb -”
“I didn’t say dirty bomb,” Leonard interrupted. “I’m talking about making an impact.”
“We should listen to Cody,” Jerry said. Leonard wasn’t surprised. He often assumed Jerry was in love with Cody.
“I think we should hear what Leonard has to say,” Penelope said standing tall. Leonard looked at her and she gave him a big smile. “He’s here to build this stuff. Let’s see what he can build.”
“OK,” Cody said clearly intimidated by Penelope. It was very rarely that anyone would argue with her. “What do you have in mind, short-stack?”
Leonard ignored the jibe at this height and laid out his plan. He would rig five charges around the capital building before the protest began. Cody and the others would make their grand speeches to the world. Some passerbies would listen, someone may even tape him with a cell phone, but mostly they’d ignore them as usual… Until the explosives went off.
They wouldn’t hurt or kill anybody. The five-gallon drums would fire fake money into the air to symbolize the wasted government spending or whatever Cody decided it symbolized. It would make an OK speech a grand gesture. Chaos would ensue, The Ducks would scatter into the crowds and disappear, and their message would get across.
What could go wrong?
The group got started making the fake money. Jerry gave Cody his father’s credit card and he bought the paper they used to make the pile of fake money that Leonard was going to load into his drums. Leonard quickly went to work on the six drums they would be using. When detonated they would spray the fake bills into the air amid a smoke screen that would allow them to pull their masks off and get away from the scene.
“I’ll go through it one more time,” Leonard said to the group of four that would be placing the six drums. No matter how many times he told them the incredibly simple plan, it just would not sink into their brains. “Drop the buckets in an inconspicuous location while the crowd is watching Cody, remove the lids, and walk away.”
“Then they explode?” someone asked.
“No,” Leonard said. “We aren’t exploding the drums. “The blast is directed upwards and will do nothing but shower the crowd with the money after I press the detonator.”
“I thought I would press it,” Cody said looking abashed. The thought of not being the one who pressed the button was visibly upsetting him.
“If you’re yelling at the crowd with a detonator, someone will shoot you,” Leonard said. “It’s best to leave it as a surprise.”
“That makes sense,” Penelope said before Cody could argue. He closed his mouth with a snap.
“Get it in the van,” Cody said. “We go to the capital tomorrow.”
So the van was loaded, and the protest was set. At nine AM the next morning their back van pulled in front in a block away from the capital and they got out. Cody went right to work shouting into his megaphone in his duck mask as people stopped to watch.
“And these men who allocate OUR money think they knew better -”
“This is exciting,” Penelope said to Leonard. “We’re really making a difference today.”
“We’ll be making a statement,” Leonard said. “That’s for sure.”
To Leonard’s surprise Penelope leaned down and kissed him briefly on the mouth. “For luck,” she said. Leonard smiled and grasped the detonator. He felt like nothing could go wrong. If only he was in the right mind to make sure the others removed those fucking lids off of those fucking buckets.
The four who had the simplest of tasks all overlooked one major detail that morning. Not one of them removed the lid of their bucket. They placed the six buckets next to trash receptacles or utility poles so they went unnoticed, but they failed to heed Leonard’s second step and proceeded to walk away, put on their duck masks, and join Cody in all his glory.
Leonard was unaware of this as he listened to Cody spew his nonsense about government spending and fat cats and bla bla bla. He only waited for the signal so he could hit the button and shower the people with money. He was very aware that Penelope was holding his hand as they listened.
“When will the greed end?” Cody blared into his megaphone. “I say it’s about time we give the money back to the people!”
That was the signal. Leonard pulled his hand out of Penelope’s and hit the button. The effect was immediate. With the lids on the buckets they blew outwards instead of upwards. A woman who had the bad luck to be standing near a bucket had her legs blasted off. A man walking his dog was hit by shrapnel and would not survive until lunch time. Cars were on fire, two utility poles fell to the ground sending sparking wires through the cried, smoke was everywhere, and the people were in a panic.
Leonard watched in horror as people fled the scene. He was vaguely aware of a young girl running and holding a stump where here right hand used to be. It was chaos. He had intended The Ducks to make a statement today, but he had no idea this would be it.
The rest of Leonard’s life before his incarceration went by in a blur.
In his haste to get away from the site Cody had run off without his van. The creepy black van parked a block from the bombing site was the first place the cops looked, naturally. They found the extra duck masks that Leonard and Penelope hadn’t worn along with more than enough information to link the van to Cody. Once they had Cody (who was hiding at his mother’s house), he quickly turned everyone else in to save his own skin.
“It was Leonard Kelly!” Leonard heard Cody yelling as he was brought into the police station in handcuffs. “He was supposed to make a device to spread money out. We didn’t know he planned on blowing people up. He’s insane! You need to find him before he bombs again!”
Leonard was quickly labeled by the media. Now he was a “home-grown terrorist”. He was a criminal. He was a monster. He may not have wished to harm anyone, but he was guilty of making the bombs that did the damage. When the people labeled him, he didn’t argue it.
His trial seemed to stretch on forever. He knew there was no way he’d be found innocent, but they reveled in the media frenzy that came around the Hartford bombing. Leonard even began to think the friends and family of his victims where relishing the TV time they were getting.
Then the time finally came. He was found guilty (it was on all the channels) and bussed off to Havenville Penitentiary where he would spend the remainder of his days. His friends had washed their hands of him, and The Ducks (convinced that he meant to bomb the capital) would not speak to him either. The members that were rounded up all pleaded ignorance and were all given light sentences after they all testified against Leonard. Cody was actually given house arrest and had to stay inside his mom’s house for two years.
The only light at the end of Leonard’s tunnel was when he was told he had a visitor at the end of his first week on the inside and he saw Penelope on the other side of the glass. Leonard picked up the phone quickly and Penelope did the same. He noticed her eyes were red and puffy. Leonard assumed she had shed many tears for him.
“Pen,” Leonard said. “Thank you -”
“How could you?” Penelope said. “How could you hurt all those people?”
“You really don’t think that I would -”
“I didn’t want to think you would,” Penelope said. “But you did. You wanted to make a statement. Well I hope you’re happy with yourself in there.”
“It wasn’t me!” Leonard said. “If those idiots did like I told them -”
“Cody was right!” Penelope said. Fresh tears were spilling down her cheeks. “He told us how you tried to turn everyone else in to save yourself. You coward!”
“That’s not -”
Penelope made to get up, but Leonard stopped her. “I love you!” he said into the phone. She stopped.
“You love me?” Penelope asked with a snort. “Is that what this was all about? You were trying to impress me?”
“Yes,” Leonard admitted feeling more defeated than he did the day they said he was guilty.
“You didn’t need to bomb a city to impress me,” Penelope said.
“I didn’t -”
“Don’t!” Penelope said. “I’m not interested in your excuses. I thought you were a good guy. Goodbye, Leonard.” She then hung up and left. It was the last time she ever came to visit.
“Holy shit!” Xander said when Leonard had finished his story.
“Holy shit indeed,” Leonard said. “Blinded by love. Foiled by idiocy. This is the life of the wayward soul of Leonard Kelly.”
Xander couldn’t help but laugh. He knew why Leonard was in Havenville, but he didn’t know it from his point of view. He knew it was six years ago, but the thought of Penelope’s only visit still weighed heavily on him. He thought of his wife and how things ended. She wasn’t even allowed to visit. He wouldn’t see her face until his mission ended, and he didn’t even know if she’d let him.
Silence filled the cell with the exception of other inmates moving around above and around them. Xander realized he didn’t know what else to say in response to Leonard’s story.
“So,” Leonard said breaking the silence. “What’s our next move?”