#31 – Light Up the Night
- Leticia McKinelle followed Oswald Glendale to a secret laboratory where he is cooking up some weird concoction.
- Oliver Jordan hatched a plan to take over Waterford Holdings by way of foreclosure.
- Frank Denzre admitted to Lawrence Waterford that he was being paid to spy on Lawrence’s eldest daughter, with whom he is in a relationship.
- Frank also outed soon-to-be-Waterford-son-in-law Marcus LeBrandt as a Jordan spy as well.
- Kirk Waterford went to speak with Senator Charles Taylor.
- Police Chief John Godspeed and attorney Elizabeth Marshall left Emerald Heights for Los Angeles to defend Duncan Marshall against a murder charge.
“It wasn’t like I had much of a choice but to go through with his demands,” the senator stated.
Kirk Waterford shook his head, “no one is blaming you, Chuck. The damage hasn’t been done yet.”
Senator Charles Taylor sat in the high backed leather chair across from his old friend and sighed, “if I’d known what you had on Jordan from the beginning none of this ever would have happened.”
“I’ve known that Oliver Jordan was going to make a move on Waterford Holdings for years. He’s been circling, picking off other businesses across the state; the businesses of my friends. And I’ve sat by and watched and done nothing to stop it. It was my foolish pride that kept me from coming here and putting a stop to it.”
“What happened between us, happened a long time ago, Kirk. We were both younger men, then; and neither of us was smart enough to know better than to blinded by pride.” The senator stood and tossed back his drink. “Another?” He asked, raising the brandy decanter in the air.
“Please,” Kirk replied. “I’ve got my driver.” As the senator poured, Kirk continued, “has there been any word on your wife?”
Charles Taylor shook his head, “not so far. Jordan’s man Custone told me that he ‘had information’ that he would give me once this business with Waterford is through.” He swished the remaining brandy in his own glass around and then tossed it back in a single gulp.
“Kidnapping a man’s wife is extreme even for Oliver Jordan,” Kirk added.
The senator chuckled slightly, “you know the damnedest part of the whole thing? I owe the son of a bitch a debt. I never knew how much I loved Vivian until all of this.” He paused, looking contemplatively through the glass of brandy, “Washington is hard on a marriage.”
“So is Emerald Heights,” Kirk added, swallowing his drink and pushing himself up out of the chair. “We can count on you, then, tomorrow to back our play against Jordan?”
The senator nodded, “you can count me in.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Olivia Jordan moaned as she stepped out of the gate and into the concourse at Stanley-Carter Airport in Emerald Heights. “First I have to fly all the way from God damned Singapore on some commercial plane all cooped up with other people’s germs and then my friggin’ father isn’t even here to pick me up?”
“He is waiting in the car Miss Olivia,” the tall thin man replied.
She scowled, “he, like, can’t walk in to greet his only daughter when she flies half way around the world after making him a hundred million dollars?”
“Would you like me to get your bags, M’lady?”
She stopped her feverish, laser-guided walking and spun around on the man, “what did you think we were doing, catching up? Of course I want you to get the bags. Jesus Christ, what else did you think you were here for?” She snapped back around and continued walking toward the exit; exasperatedly she huffed, “I miss servants who don’t speak English.”
The sun had set on Leticia McKinelle. Her hands still gripped the steering wheel of her car in spite of the fact that the engine hadn’t been turned on in hours. She continued to stare at the building – the laboratory – that Oswald had set up in Emerald Heights.
She kept running his words over and over in her head “I will never lose her again.” She didn’t know what they meant, but the sound of his voice had sent chills down her spine. She knew that he was dangerous and she’d seen it with her own eyes.
“But who’s going to believe me?” She said, her voice barely a whisper. “I have no proof. It is his word against mine and… and he has some way to enthrall people.”
“The brother was resistant,” she said, repeating the words that Oswald had spoken to the other man. “He means John… he did something to him. Dosed him with something… something that he makes here in this lab.”
“Just enough to keep my ex-wife from ruining things,” she parroted him again. She chewed on her lower lip, “just enough of what?”
“Aw, fuck.” He said. “What do you want, Kaitlyn?”
“I want to talk to you,” she said, her words slurred by the alcohol she had consumed. “I want to talk to you, fucking Jason Marshall… about your murderer brother.”
“Don’t you think I get enough of this shit at school?”
“My Daddy is in Califin… Califon… Califinornia trying to save your brother’s ass from the electric chair, bucko.”
“Your murderer brother and his sister lawyer… sawyer lister… what-effing-ever,” Kaitlyn corrected, with a pointing gesture that was punctuated by the slosh of booze from the red plastic cup in her left hand. “Shit,” she said.
“Sit down, sloppy drunk girls are not attractive,” Jason said, hooking his arm under hers and leading her to a bench just outside the patio doors.
“Eff you,” she said pushing her face into his. “I’m not a sloppy drink…”
Jason shook his head, “drunk. And yes you are.”
“I have to stay with my Mom while my Dad is gone,” she said, suddenly sounding sad. “My Mom is such a tool. She wants me to be a girly girl and be all like her…” she breathed in slowly and then exhaled in a single quick breath, “do you like your Mom?” She asked, then her eyes widened, “oh… shit,” she said, drawing out the word for several seconds. “Your Mom’s dead… I forgot.”
“Missing,” Jason corrected.
Kaitlyn lolled her head to the side, “for ten years? Come on.” She brought the red cup to her lips again to drink, but found it empty. She threw the cup to the ground and moaned slightly, “I gotta go home now.” She attempted to stand and immediately stumbled back down on to the bench.
“Oh Jesus, let me help you,” he said. Jason hooked his arm around her and hauled her to a standing position and began to walk with her toward the front yard, “I don’t know why I’m doing this,” he muttered to himself as they neared his car.
“Daddy,” Olivia Jordan said as she slid into the back of the limousine. “That plane flight was hell.”
“I’m sorry, sweetness, both of the Jordan Enterprises jets are in getting painted with the new livery.” Oliver said by way of explanation. “That was poor planning on someone’s part.”
“Someone who, Daddy?” She said through pursed lips.
“Not someone who will ever get to make that same mistake again. I doubt they even have phones where he’s working now.”
Father and daughter shared a laugh as the car began to move. “I can’t believe you made me come home for this thing,” she whined.
“Your mother wanted to see you, too.” Oliver reminded, “and the charity ball is next weekend.”
“I could have come then,” Olivia said, “you know how I feel about the Waterfords.”
“I know, Princess, and that is precisely why I wanted you to be here.” Oliver grinned across the car. He popped open a bottle from the little fridge that was built into the side of the car. He poured out a glass of champagne for each of them and handed one to Olivia, “after tomorrow, my sweet, Waterfords will be nothing more than a name in the history books of Emerald Heights.”
“Oh Daddy,” Olivia said as she leaned forward in her seat, “do tell!”
Kerstin stood in the corner of the sitting room at Red Terrace and watched the bulk of the Waterford family sharing after-dinner pleasantries in a manner that she was accustomed to. These were usually evenings filled with business chatter from the men, society goings on by the women and the bored wails from the children until they were released into the rest of the house to play. Kerstin was lamenting her graduation from the latter group as she took in the gathered crowd over the rim of her wine glass.
As she stood she noticed her father glance over at Marcus for what was not the first time, and cast him a glance that made her curious. No one else seemed to notice and no one else seemed to be in on whatever it was that her father was feeling because no one else seemed to regard him with any more or less interest than was usual.
Ophelia, her only blood-related aunt on the Waterford side, had avoided her entirely since the exchange that they’d had in the dining room earlier in the afternoon. There had been an awkward hush that had fallen over the sitting room when she had finally joined the family after helping Esther set the table for dinner. It had caused her to smile broadly and lock eyes with her aunt for only the briefest moment before the elder woman looked away.
She had turned her attention out through the large, open double doors and was watching the younger Waterford grandchildren run and play in the grand foyer of Red Terrace when her father’s voice caused her to start.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said.
“I was just watching the kids,” she replied, “I remember doing that…” she turned and looked at her father with a sideways smile, “I miss doing that.”
Her father chuckled, “you wouldn’t fit into some of those crevasses anymore, my dear.”
“I’d love to try,” she said, giving a quick glance over her shoulder as one of the girls squealed and dashed away from her brother.
“Listen, have you talked to Frank today?” Her father asked.
“Yes, first thing this morning before he left the apartment, why?” She asked.
“He came to see me this morning,” Lawrence stated and again Kerstin saw him cast that strange glance at his soon-to-be son-in-law, Marcus LeBrandt.
“Uh…” Lawrence said, “oh, nothing really. Just a… business tip he said I should know about.”
“Daddy?” She asked.
“Yes, my dear?” Lawrence replied.
“Why are you lying to me?”
“No,” she slurred from the passenger seat of his car.
“What now?” Jason asked.
“Not my Mom’s place.”
“Because I’m drunk.” She said matter-of-factly, “and she would murder me.” She rolled her head over on the headrest to look at him, “sorry I didn’t mean that.”
“Stop it,” he said, “so where do you want to go?”
“My Dad‘s,” she said, “I have a key.” The final word lasted a good five seconds as she drew it out.
“Won’t your Mom get mad about that?”
“Not as mad as if I show up…” she stopped talking and suddenly swallowed hard several times in a row. Jason was briefly worried about the interior of the car.
“…smashed off your face?” He offered.
She nodded wildly. “Yeah, that.” She continued, “so take me to my Dad’s place.”
“I’m not your chauffeur,” he said, “but it happens to be more on my way anyhow.”
“Where are you staying while your aunt is in Californica?” She asked as the car began moving forward again.
“California?” He said, correcting her, “I’m staying at home.”
“At your sister‘s house?”
He turned and looked at her, she was still looking directly at him, “that’s where I live.”
“Yeah, but you get to stay there alone?”
“Right now I do. My niece and nephew are with Cassandra, so I have the house to myself.”
Kerstin heard the front door click and instinctively turned to make sure that one of the children wasn’t trying to make a break for it. Instead she saw her grandfather making an uncharacteristically quiet entrance. He smiled at his granddaughter but in a way that made her feel more like she caught him than that she was being greeted.
He took a few steps toward the sitting room and then gestured for her. She glanced at her father, who noticed her movement, and then looked out into the hall and raised an eyebrow. “Granddaddy,” she said as she stepped up alongside the elder Waterford.
“Can you get your father for me?”
“I think I already…” she said, as Lawrence appeared in the hallway as if on cue. “…did.” She smiled.
“I need to speak with you,” Kirk said to her father and gestured toward the stairs. That meant the upstairs den, which could only mean they were going to talk business.
“What’s going on?” Kerstin asked.
“Nothing,” Lawrence asserted. “We just have some business to talk about.”
Kerstin nodded, “I know, that’s what I mean. You’ve been shooting daggers at Marcus all afternoon,” she noticed that Kirk and Lawrence shared a look as soon as she said Marcus’ name, “and you said Frank came to see you today about something having to do with the business. And then grandpa was missing at dinner and just gets home now and comes into the house without being announced? Something is up and I want to know what it’s all about.”
“Kerstin, it’s nothing just go back…”
She set her jaw, “no. You’re going to tell me what’s going on, or I’m going back down to the sitting room and I’m going to repeat everything that I just said to the whole family – and we’ll talk about it, too.”
“Kerstin Anna Waterfo…” Lawrence began, but Kirk held up his hand to stop him.
“Lawrence, we might as well tell her. It has as much to do with her as it does anyone in the family. Maybe more.”
Leticia‘s fingers felt stiff as she pulled them off of the steering wheel and pushed the door to the car open. She slipped silently up to the edge of the building and returned to the window under which she had placed a crate. She popped up and looked inside.
She could see the man that Oswald had been speaking with moving back and forth along a long bench covered in equipment. She watched as he added compounds to the mixture that appeared to travel along the bench in stages, using what looked like a series of large eyedroppers he took measured amounts of this and that and added it to the processional until it dripped out of a tube at the end and into an otherwise non-descript beaker.
On his way back to the other end of the assembly line the man knocked over one of the beakers and it fell to the floor and smashed. The scene played out silently in front of Leticia due to the panes of glass, but the man’s animated reaction told her he was not pleased. She watched him dash out of her view as she continued to study the laboratory.
Her attention was wrenched from the scene when the sound of the door to the laboratory being opened reached her ears. She gasped and tumbled from the crate and fell back into the shadows.
She watched the man dash passed the opening to the alley and she lept up and ran to where she could see out. A large van was parked down the street and she could see the man throw open the doors and climb inside. She looked toward the door to the laboratory; it was slightly ajar.
Without thinking about it she quickly rounded the front of the building and entered the laboratory.
Her senses were quickly assaulted with the eye-burning smells of chemicals undergoing various reactions with one another. She could hear the drip of the formula that was being created at the end of the line of tubes and vessels of chemicals. Two Bunsen burners were evaporating some part of the concoction at the beginning and in the middle of the process.
A paper clipboard sat on the edge of the workbench and she approached it. It contained the header “Formula 7 Primer Reagents” and a long list of chemical names that she didn’t recognize and couldn’t pronounce. She pulled the phone out of her pocket and dialed Kerstin Waterford. The phone rang only once before going to voicemail. “Kerstin, I’m in Oswald’s lab. I mean, he’s got a lab! He’s… I dunno what he’s doing. There’s a bunch of stuff here that looks like he’s making a drug… maybe that’s how he’s fooling everyone. I’m going to see what else I can find… call me!”
Another stack of pages caught her attention and she headed toward them but was halted by a voice behind her.
“Who the hell are you?” It exclaimed.
She turned around to see the man she’d watched through the window.
And his gun.
“I… I don’t understand,” Kerstin replied.
“But I don’t know anything…”
“He didn’t know that,” Lawrence said.
She shook her head, “but Marcus has been around for years and I just met Frank.”
Kirk nodded, “but you met Frank right after moving out of Red Terrace, which Marcus already had covered…”
Kerstin’s phone began to ring; she pressed the cancel button without looking at it. “So then… Frank was… he moved in to The Rockwell in order to spy on me?”
“Honey, I think he moved to Emerald Heights just to spy on you.” Lawrence crossed the room and sat on the arm of the chair in which Kerstin sat. He rubbed her shoulder, “I’m sorry, Kerstin.”
“I still don’t understand,” Kerstin said. “He said he was a businessman.”
“Kerstin, dear, he was lying to you.” Kirk said.
“Now, Dad,” Lawrence said, “he did come clean in time to give us a chance to try to stop Jordan’s plans.”
“Oh come on, Lawrence,” Kirk replied, “he probably figured that there was nothing that could be done at this late an hour. I bet you he never went back to that apartment after he left Red Terrace and he’s on a Jordan Enterprises jet to God knows where as we speak. We’ll never hear from him again.”
“But…” Kerstin whispered, “he’s got a cat.”
“Holy fuck!” The man said, “how did you find this place?”
“I followed him,” she said, “what’s going on here?”
“I’ll ask the questions!” He exclaimed, “now tell me what are you doing here?”
“I… I came here to see what he was doing…” She made an abbreviated gesture toward the equipment on the work bench, “I knew he was doing something… something to people. I had to find out what.”
A crackling noise behind her made both of them turn their attention to the contraption that was brewing up the Formula 7 Primer. “Shit,” he said, calling her attention back to the gun. He jerked the gun to the side in an indication for her to move out of his way; she did.
She watched as he sped over to the contraption and added another measured dose of one of the chemicals to one of the beakers suspended above the Bunsen burner. “That was close,” he said turning back toward her, “this is very delicate stuff.”
“What is it?” She asked. “I read the clipboard… what’s Formula 7?”
“This is,” he said, “well, the Primer at least. The Activator part of the formula is already synthesized.”
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“No, I don’t suppose you would, would you?” He turned his attention back to the formula, adding another squirt of one of the elements into the reaction where it was called for; the gun still trained, although absently, on Leticia.
“What does it do?”
“I can’t tell you that,” he said, “that’s… it’s a secret.”
“It’s makes people compliant,” she defiantly.
“How did you know…” he said as he spun half-way around. His foot caught a piece of the beaker that he’d broken earlier, and forgotten about, and slipped out from underneath himself. He pitched backward and the gun was suddenly aimed at the ceiling.
Leticia flinched a step back and bumped into a stool. She wheeled around and grabbed the stool and held it in a defensive position as she watched the man’s arms pinwheel wildly as he lost his balance completely.
He hit the ground with a thud that was drowned out by the sound of the gun going off. Leticia screamed and threw the stool forward in fear. The stool flew toward the workbench and crashed into the glass vials and beakers and tubes and sent the whole thing tumbling to the ground.
One of the Bunsen burners was pulled over in the tumbling wreckage of scientific equipment and immediately the entire framework burst into flames.
Leticia ran.Tags:Jason Marshall, Kaitlyn Godspeed, Kerstin Waterford, Kirk Waterford, Leticia McKinelle-Glendale, Oliver Jordan, Olivia Jordan, Oswald Glendale, Senator Charles Taylor