Richard Maxwell walked down the hall of the building. It was just another day at work. It wasn't necessarily a cushy job, but it paid his apartment rent and put food on the table, so he couldn't complain too much. However, he couldn't shake that old, restless, feeling.
He walked to the elevator and pressed the down button. The doors rolled open and he walked in. He sighed quietly. He'd settled down and gotten a job at this computer software company, but it wasn't what he wanted to do.
He - well - missed the times back when he was chasing Blackgaard. He had a mission, a focus, a goal to chase down that was bigger than himself. It made him feel like he was 'worth saving'. Ever since Whit had told him that, he wanted to prove that it was true.
He walked into the reception area and straight for the door.
"Have a lovely weekend Mr. Maxwell!" said the chipper receptionist, Ms. Stables.
"Thank you." Richard smiled politely.
He walked out the revolving door and into the parking lot.
He opened his car door, sat down, and started it up. As he looked over his shoulder while backing out, a shockingly familiar figure sat up.
Richard hid his surprise. "Myron." He turned around and shook his head. "The one time I left my car doors unlocked." he muttered, "Good thing I didn't leave my keys in here too."
Jellyfish sneered. " Forget your crummy car, I came for something else anyway."
Maxwell fought to stay cool and continued driving. He had a hunch where this was going, but decided to play dumb.
Richard snorted. "You should have gone for my car."
"You testified against me in court, remember?"
"Because you tried to murder me." Maxwell interjected smoothly.
"Yeah. Pretty gutsy move for you."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Yeah well, I'm settling that score. Now."
Richard smirked. "Sorry, I won't go along with that."
"You don't have a choice. You're going to do exactly as I tell you, GOT IT?"
The way Jellyfish raised his voice told Maxwell that he was not to be denied. He gripped the steering wheel. "Alright alright! Where are we going?"
"Nevermind that Ricardo. Just do as I say. Take the next left."
"Ricardo" glanced back and saw Jellyfish's gloved hands fingering a long knife. Chills ran up his spine. His suspicion was confirmed. He felt sick. Maybe I SHOULD have gone to the Witness protection program when I had the chance. I should have known Jellyfish would want revenge and come after me! I should have…. but no. I have to focus. God, help me find a way out.
Everything was deadly quiet for several minutes, outside of Jellyfish's occasional instructions as they drove across the Chicago cityscape.
"Go across that bridge over there. But not too fast, there's a cop."
AH-HA! Thanks, God! "As you wish." he glanced back at him. "Seems you and I were in this situation a few years ago, Myron."
"Yeah, but this time there ain't nothing you can do about it." Jellyfish gloated.
They were about 40 yards from the cop car now.
Richard sat back and smiled. "I wouldn't be too sure." He said quietly.
"What was that?" Myron snapped.
"I said… I wouldn't be too sure!" At that moment, Maxwell slammed down the accelerator, and cut his wheel hard. The tires squealed, and the car swerved violently. Jellyfish flew back and crashed against the door. The car hit a lamppost. Hard.
Richard jumped out and ran toward the officer."Hey! I need help!"
He turned around and his eyes widened. Jellyfish was running toward the bridge guard rail, then he vaulted over it!
The cop spoke into his radio, "Hodges, get me backup immediately! Some guy just jumped off the bridge, over."
They both ran to the edge and looked down at the river. There was no sign of him.
"Do you think he made it?" Richard panted.
"I don't know."
Hours later, after a full witness report and police investigation, no sign of Jellyfish was found anywhere. Every fiber of Richard's being was tingling with apprehension. How did Jellyfish know where to find him? Did he know where he lived? Where was he now? The police found no trace of Jellyfish in the river or the surrounding area, so they could only assume he got away. He had more questions than answers, and he wasn't sure where to find them.
Richard stayed at a hotel overnight. He didn't want to push his luck. If Jellyfish could discover where he worked, he could discover just as easily where he lived, if he didn't know already.
Maxwell was confused. He didn't know what to do, where to go, or who to go to. He wasn't sure who he could trust. Richard decided to take a walk outside to see if he could come up with a logical conclusion as to what the next step should be.
He meandered for quite some time, lost in his thoughts, straight into a rough area of town. There were many abandoned buildings, and very few people lived there.
The place was eerily quiet. Richard shuddered. The place gave him the creeps. He was about to turn around when he heard the sound of shattering glass. Curiosity got the better of him and quietly walked toward an old, run-down, apartment complex.
The door creaked open and Richard gasped. There was an old table that had fallen over with one leg kicked in. A bunch of broken bottles lay on the floor, but it was what was next to them that caught him off guard.
It was a person. He was tied up and gagged. He gave a muffled cry and looked at him with pleading green eyes.
"What in the world?" Richard walked to him, broken glass crunching under his tennis shoes. He grabbed his pocket knife and cut him loose. The man took the gag out of his mouth.
"We have to get out of here!" He said urgently. He practically shoved Richard out the door. "Run!" he shouted, "Run as fast as you can!"
They both tore off racing down the street. They ran down to the end of the neighborhood when there came a thundering BOOM, a splintering crack, and a shattering crash. A huge cloud of dust overtook them and debris flew everywhere. The two darted around a corner, shielding them from the flying wreckage.
Maxwell turned around with a look of shock and horror. "Did it just-?"
The man swallowed. "Yes. The building was rigged to blow."
Richard collapsed against the wall and put his hand over his heart. He sank to the ground and silently thanked God for protecting them.
"Why were you in there?" He asked.
The man sat down by him. His hand trembled slightly, as he brushed a lock of his brown hair that fell across his forehead. "I flew in here from Virginia early this morning. I was on my way out of the hotel when two masked men manhandled me into a blacked-out van."
That sounds familiar. Thought Maxwell.
"They put me in that apartment building. They started the timer on the bomb and left. About 1 minute later, I heard you walking by, so I kicked that old table leg in and knocked those glass bottles over." He looked Richard in the eyes. "You saved my life. Thank you so much."
Richard smiled modestly and shrugged. "Happy to help." He felt like there was more he should say, but he didn't know what. He stood up. "Should we go to the police?"
The man stood up as well.
"No, there was nothing we could have told them, anyway. I'm trained to listen for helpful things, but they barely said anything. They knew what they were doing."
"Trained?" Richard raised an eyebrow.
"Yes. Oh, I'm sorry, I guess I never properly introduced myself. I'm Agent Robert Mitchell, with the FBI."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Richard Maxwell."
The two men shook hands. Mitch studied Richard for a moment. "What were you doing here, anyway? This area is abandoned, and you don't look homeless."
Maxwell chuckled. "I'm not. Actually, there's a whole story behind that. But, first I think it would be smart if we get out of here."
"Yes!' Mitch agreed emphatically.
They walked through the streets of the city, talking in low voices, so as not to give out too much information to listening ears. Richard told Mitch of Jellyfish's first attempt on his life, and how he ended up in the hospital as a result of it. He also explained that he was a key witness at his trial.
"My testimony added several years to Jellyfish's sentence. He hinted not-so-subtly that revenge was what he was after in our little run-in yesterday. And still is, as far as I know."
They walked into a little corner cafe where they ordered coffee.
"I'm not sure what to do."
They sat down in a booth by the front window.
"It's a perplexing problem alright." Mitch agreed. "I'm not sure there is a lot you can do. I mean, you can try to go to Witness Protection, but I can tell you upfront that you probably won't qualify." He looked out the window and thought hard for a minute. He watched the bustle of the city on this rather dreary day.
Richard sat back in the booth and thought. He stirred his coffee absently. He didn't have a lot of people he could go to. His past often lent itself to loneliness when it came to trustworthy relationships.
A lightbulb went on in Mitch's head. "One solution does present itself, though it's not very practical. You could skip town and lay low for a while! I'm going to travel to a small town a few hours away from here, and you could come along with me if you like. It's called Odyssey."
Richard's jaw dropped. "You know about Odyssey? I used to live there!"
Mitch laughed. "No way! I lived there for a couple of years. I was even engaged to a girl, you don't know Connie Kendall, do you?"
"Connie almost got married?! It HAS been a while since I've been there."
"And you must know John Whitaker."
Richard grinned. "Doesn't everyone?"
"What a coincidence!"
Maxwell shook his head. "No. I learned a long time ago that there is no such thing as coincidences."
Mitch nodded. "Whit always said that." He smiled sentimentally. "Whit was always such a great example of faith in God."
"Yes. He was one of the first ones to show me what the love of Jesus looks like played out in life." He remembered vividly the time he had almost died in a burning building, but Whit saved him, even though he knew all that Richard had done. He still remembered the way Whit looked at him and said 'Your life is worth saving.' Those words had stayed with him ever since that terrifying night.
"So, shall we go?" Mitch pulled Richard out of his reverie.
"Yes." He put some money on the table and they left the Cafe.
They got a hold of a rental car company and found a good car. Afterward, they went to Richard's apartment. He packed a couple of bags and was about to exit his room when he stopped short. He wanted Jellyfish to know that he had been outwitted. He thought for a moment, then smiled mischievously.
He shoved a couple of rolled-up blankets under the covers of his bed. Ah, the old blankets for hobbits trick.
They were on the road about ten minutes later. As they traveled, they talked about family, interests, all things computers, listened to music and laughed as though they were old friends. About 6 hours later, they pulled into town.
The phone rang loudly. A bony hand picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" The voice turned deadly, "What do you mean you FAILED?" the voice rose until it was almost shrill. "I told you specifically we had to do this without a mistake to get him out of the way!"
"A tracking device? Hmph, it's almost like you knew you were going to mess this up or something." He said sarcastically. "Well, do you have the coordinates? Ok." He scribbled them down hastily. "What? No, I'll send somebody else. Yes, do get him on the line."
There was a pause for several moments as he waited.
"Yes, I have a mission for you. You know the man you're after? Good. We have his current location in a town called…." he looked at the paper. "Odyssey."
There was a pause.
"I don't care. That's your specialty! Just do whatever it takes to get him out of the way!