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For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 6 July 2007 - 12:04am.

Chapter 13

Rudy Javits had decided that if he could do an investigation on Thomas Baird Gilvaine, he could just as easily do one on Perry Rollins and resolved that he would find every piece of dirt that he could on the man. Being a smart investigator, he knew there were many good sources besides those found in databases or at the newspaper. This time he went directly to research librarian Karen Balfour, who was only too eager to be of assistance, as she had in the past.

In the course of conversation Rudy found that the very man he had been asked to investigate had been in to speak with Karen a few days before. Rudy saw the document that Gilvaine had seen and now he was charged with an intensity that surpassed any he had ever felt before. It was anger and alarm, bound tightly together, inseparable and one. Javits now felt he knew what Rollins had in mind and he knew, too, that the man must be stopped at all cost.

Javits left the home of Thomas Gilvaine without having found anyone present. He had only one clue as to his next possible destination. The phone logs of Tom's latest calls showed only one number that seemed to indicate a pattern—Jenna Smith. It was a slim pattern at best, but it was the only recent repetition in his sparse call history. At times like this, Javits was thankful for the contacts and friends he had made at the phone company. This time they might even help save a life.

Something unusual was going on at Jenna's house as he pulled up to the curb in front of the place. Several police cars were there and the whole neighborhood was watching the excitement unfold.

Javits caught some bits of conversation as he approached the house. "There's no sign of forced entry, ma'am. I can't make up facts I don't have." The officer was already peeved and only getting more so by the moment, it seemed.

Another voice turned his attention from the matter at hand. "Well, if it isn't Rudy Javits." The name was nearly spat with contempt. Another officer had now chosen to target Rudy with his own venom.

"How you doing, Ray? Still beating your wife?" Javits asked as innocently and calmly as if he were talking to an old friend. There was no love lost between these two. They had once been closely acquainted when Rudy had been on the police force. Other officers ignoring the rules once too often had finally stuck in Javits’ craw and when he'd had all he could take, he spilled his guts to Internal Affairs before quitting cold, sacrificing his pension in the process. Some things carried more weight in life than money, he figured. He had never looked back since then and had no inclination to do so now, but Thomas Gilvaine was the one exception that made him wish he still had access to all of their records and resources. Javits was about to rectify that problem, if he could. He would even share information with them—if he felt he could trust them.
Walking confidently into the house, Javits listened in and caught enough of the gist to know that someone had been abducted.

"This isn't about Thomas Gilvaine, is it?" he interrupted.

"No, it isn't," he was told coldly by a uniformed officer who looked distastefully down his nose.

"What? What did you say?"

Rudy turned to face a young brunette in her mid-twenties. She was stunningly beautiful and literally took his breath away for a moment.

"You said Thomas Gilvaine? This has to do with Thomas Baird."

"Uh…yeah. Thomas Baird Gilvaine, that's right. Are you Jenna Smith?"

So puzzled was she at this new revelation that Jenna could only nod feebly in response.

"I'm Rudy Javits, ma'am. I'm a private investigator. Look, can we talk outside for a moment?” Jenna followed him almost as if in a daze and Javits continued when he knew they were alone and out of earshot. “I sense this may be a shock to you, ma’am, but that's his full name. I think he went by his middle name to preserve some privacy. He comes from a wealthy family, back east."

"He's one of those Gilvaines?" She had heard of them, of course. Who hadn’t? They were wealthy, but benevolent. Why was Tom hiding it and why was he living as a poor writer when he could as easily live a life of luxury? And most of all—why hadn't he told her his full name and whatever else she might need to know about him?

"Yes, he's one of those Gilvaines. I need to know what happened here, Miss Smith. If I can, I want to correct a grave error. What can you tell me?" Javits quickly checked again to assure they were not under the cold stares of the police officers he had once worked among. He hesitated to say 'with', because his own agenda had nearly always seemed at odds with theirs.

After relating the events of the last several days, Jenna then stopped for breath and began to cry. Matters only seemed to be getting constantly worse and she wasn’t certain how long she could take this. She felt completely helpless. "Mr. Javits, do you believe in love at first sight and in destiny?"

Rudy wanted to answer, 'Yes, from the very moment I first saw you', but he said simply, "Yes."

"Then you'll know why I must find him. I'm afraid for his life. He saved mine and I need to save his, if I can."
Javits softened noticeably as he responded. "Jenna, if I may call you that—I think Perry Rollins is in this up to his eyebrows and I think that's where we'll find Tom. I don't expect any cooperation from the department, I'm afraid." He nodded toward the house.

"Why not, Mr. Javits?" She appeared not only puzzled, but disturbed at this comment.

"Long story, but I think they are in some way involved in the ‘ring evil’, if you will."

"Oh, God, no!" Now there was no mistaking that she was distraught at the thought of any police corruption in the matter.

"Ma'am, try to stay calm. We'll find him as quick as we can and put an end to this, if it’s at all possible to do so, I assure you. You just trust, okay?"

“Mr. Javits, Tom called someone from here last night, as I was getting my things ready to go next door. He asked them for help, but that's all I know. Is there any way you can find out who he called? Would that help in any way?"

Javits brightened appreciably as Jenna divulged this new lead. "It sure would. Wait right here. I’ll be back." He glanced toward the house, thought better of it and went to his car to search Gilvaine’s call record and to use his cell phone.

Ron and Denise came out of the house to join Jenna. Ron was so fed up that he could have spit. "Seems they've checked under every stick of furniture and come up empty. Incompetent fools! They don't even want to consider anything I might suggest, even if it could work and save time for them! They almost threatened to arrest me for interfering!"

Denise, too, piped in. "Jenna, I told you that we'd had some absolutely awful experiences awhile back, before we moved to this house. You need to excuse our attitudes. We don't hate the police. We just get fed up with their slow, meticulous, by-the-book methodology when a little creative outside-the-box thinking would go a long way toward speeding things up. They need to learn to think like a crook."

"From what I’ve just been told, I'm not so sure they aren't the crooks."

Both Ron and Denise registered shock at this quiet, matter-of-fact statement from Jenna. They had no time to respond, however, for Javits now returned and was obviously excited. "Can we go somewhere quiet to talk?" He looked suspiciously at the Jamesons and then back to Jenna.

"You can come to our house, next door," Denise offered.

Javits looked to Jenna for confirmation.

"These are my neighbors, the Jamesons. They're good people—as fine as you could ever ask for and they want to help."
"Alright, that’s good enough for me, then," Rudy replied.

Inside the Jameson's home, Rudy began to tell them all he knew of the Rollins case and of the previous nights’ phone call to Joshua Freed. "I've had his name come up at other times and it was never once to say anything nice about him. He works at the newspaper as a photographer. If Tom called him for help, it means that they met earlier for some reason."

"He may be the one who took the pictures of Tom and Sheila."

As Jenna told Rudy about this detail, he winced. "Sounds reasonable. If so, Tom probably went to see Freed and chew him out. I know I would have."

"And I would guess that Freed might have suckered him in with an apology and an offer to make amends," Ron chimed in. The anger he felt was quite evident on his face.

"Okay, okay! But where did they take him and how do we get him back?" Jenna’s emotions were running high and she was losing her grip.

"If I were to guess, I would say the estate grounds that you described, Jenna." Denise had remained silent until now, but all nodded their agreement with her.

"Getting in there will be entirely up to us, I'm afraid." All turned to look at Rudy Javits.

"Why is that? Why not have the police go in for probable cause now that you suspect this? After all, there has to be some decency and sense of duty in them," Ron insisted.

"I hate to be the one to break this to you, but not all your friendly neighborhood guardians are that friendly. I was even on the force with them until about four years ago. Most of them were scofflaws themselves. There was a lot that never made sense to me until today. Now it all makes perfect sense and it scares me silly."

Ron pressed toward the goal again. "Okay, then I know just the guys who can get in there, if they’re all available. I can count on at least one, for sure."

Javits didn’t even ask for details as to who the men in question might be or how they could accomplish the task. He just knew it had to be done. "How soon can he be here? We can't waste much time on this. I believe it's a matter of life and death." Javits aimed an apologetic glance at Jenna, but facts were facts and he had a strong feeling that this was fact indeed.

"I can vouch for these men fully—they’re the best there is in a pinch. I’ll contact them immediately."

"I can vouch for them, too. I staked my life on them once and I would do so again without hesitation," Denise added.

"Alright, then all we need is the layout of the estate and a plan of action. I’ll go right now and get the architect’s plans from a friend at City Hall," Javits said with an air of authority. As far as he was concerned, they were going into the next phase. “Meet you back here as soon as I have them.”

They planned all that day and into the night. Javits poured over the layout of the grounds and building with them and Ron received commitments from his cousin, Hunter, and his old army buddies, Bill and Mose, that they would indeed be there.

"Mose and Bill are going to bring along a few ‘surprises’, they said." Ron chuckled at the thought, knowing that if these men called them surprises, they would most certainly be so to the average man.

Denise smiled. "Well, this ought to be quite interesting, knowing those two. What about Jon-Jon? Any word on him yet?"

"Haven't been able to get hold of him, but I have left a message and Bill says he'll keep trying to reach him as often as he can. I want him here. We need his expertise, too. Oh, and Mose said we should call him sometime when we aren't in great danger. He said it would be nice to be invited for a simple barbeque for a change."

"Why, that monkey! Just wait until I see him." She pretended to be angry, but none were convinced.

"No, he never said that, babe. He actually said he was looking forward to the excitement." Ron winked at Denise and smiled.

"I never know when to believe you or not. You're such a tease."

Jenna was getting very depressed and it was showing. Until now she had held her peace, except for the earlier outburst she felt was needed to get everyone on track. Now she felt she had to speak again. "It doesn't sound as if you intend to act tonight. What if Tom doesn't have beyond tonight for us to act?" She was nearly in tears, though she fought it bravely. This man that she had known so short a time had completely captured her heart and her imagination. She knew that if anything were to happen to him, she would want to die herself.

Javits tried to reassure her, though he knew no words were sufficient to allay her fears altogether. "Jenna, I know a few things about these people—this type of people. They don't do these things haphazardly. There will be a scheduled ‘celebration’ to invite others of their kind to attend. Preparation takes time and it will be when all the others are available. In the meantime, they will keep him here, I think." Javits poked a finger at a spot in the diagram of the lower floor of the Rollins mansion.
"Why there?" Jenna prompted.

"It's a room with all the indications of a holding cell. There's a toilet and a sink, but it doesn't bear the mark of a standard restroom. It's behind the wet bar, too, which is very strange. It appears there may be a set of shelves here to cover the entrance." Again he pointed.

"I was in the room where the bar is. If there is another room behind the bar, it’s very well hidden. All I saw were shelves along that wall," Jenna remarked.

"The architect's drawings don't lie. That's our target, for sure. Pretty much everything else looks normal." Javits looked confident, but Jenna still had one more question and Rudy's reputation with her could hang on how well she would accept his answer.

"Mr. Javits, How did you get involved in this? It's obvious the police didn't call you."

Rudy looked crestfallen and cleared his throat nervously before speaking and only then after prolonged hesitation. Jenna waited nervously, but no more so than Javits himself. He swallowed hard and proceeded to explain.

"I was initially hired by Rollins to do a complete background investigation on Tom...." Jenna winced visibly, but Rudy held up his hand to beg her to allow him to continue. "I knew he was up to something not quite above board, but in a momentary lapse of reason, I took the job. When I saw how he treated people and especially when I put together more pieces of this evil plot he's hatching, then I knew I owed it to Tom to do all I could to stop Rollins. I was too late to warn him, though. I'm sorry for that, but I'll do all I can to make up for it. I feel obligated. I owe him and I owe you. I understand completely that you're angry. I would be, too, if I were in your place. I hope to make full restitution before this is over, though." Javits waited quietly for her to answer and everyone’s attention now moved to Jenna.

She closed her eyes and lowered her head in silence. A tear squeezed from her eye and she wiped it before it fell. Sniffing softly, she raised her head again and spoke directly to Javits. "If you can get him out safely, I will consider you an honorable man. Barring that, promise me that you will do all you can—all within your power, even if it means risk to you personally.”

"That's what I mean to do, Jenna. Thank you." His voice cracked as he repeated, "thank you."



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