Judge Wilcox popped some high blood pressure pills in his mouth as he observed his visitor from across his desk. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead amidst the cold room even though he was doing his best to remain calm. It was unsettling to have him in the building, much less in his office, a man renowned for his investigative skills.
He was on to him, but he was in his office, the judge thought, not at the attorney general’s office, doing the needful.
He wanted a deal.
‘Am I right, Judge Wilcox?’ his visitor asked, with his elbows on the desk and his palms crossed in front of him.
The judge remained silent, but his heart pounded wildly against his chest.
‘Look, I didn’t give him anything. If I had, we would have slammed you with the mother of all charges.’
‘What do you want?’ the judge cut in angrily.
A smile broke on his guest’s face.
‘I want the street woman and her kids out of Wallace’s life.’
The judge shook his head nervously like the situation was out of his control.
‘I can’t get my hands dirty like that,’ he declared as he tried to calm himself.
‘Dirtier,’ the visitor corrected. ‘Your hands are already covered with mud. A little dirt won’t make a difference.’
The judge gave him a wary look. ‘It’s out of my control.’
His guest rose from his chair, and his gaunt figure terrifyingly towered over the judge.
‘Tell your brother to find a way.’
The judge swallowed a lump in his throat.
‘My brother is dead, and he was the muscle. I stayed clear of the streets. I don’t have the means to do what you want.’
The visitor sighed. ‘I know where he is, judge. Do you think I’m a fool?’
Timothy heard the decision he made in that sigh and panicked.
‘I’ll handle it. Give me some time.’
The visitor retrieved his coat from the rack and put it on.
‘I’m not a patient man.’
‘Two days,’ the judge offered.
‘Fine,’ his guest said as he walked towards the door.
‘Don’t say I’m not generous.’
The judge watched looked on as his guest closed the door after him and placed his face in his palms, realizing that he was now between a rock and a hard place.
He retrieved a burner from his desk and dialed a familiar number.
‘We need to talk. It’s urgent. Are you home?’
‘Yes, I’m home,’ Herbert replied as he watched the judge’s visitor leave the courthouse from across the street.
‘I’ll be home in twenty minutes. Something’s come up.’
He was home in twenty-five, and Herbert was waiting for him by the fireplace, with a glass of bubbly in his hands.
‘We have a problem, Heb,’ the judge said, moving swiftly towards him.
‘What was he doing in your office?’ Herbert asked, taking another sip.
The judge stopped in his tracks. ‘Were you at the courthouse?’
Herbert didn’t respond.
‘You were supposed to stay off the streets! Don’t you know his men were looking for evidence against us? He knows you are alive!’ the judge retorted, hitting the glass out of Herbert’s hands.
‘Relax, old man. If he was in your office, it means he wanted something.’
Herbert skipped past the broken glass to the bar to pour himself more champagne.
The judge fell on the sofa with a loud thud.
‘This Christopher Wallace individual is a real person of interest. He wants Sarah and the kids out of the way. Why? I don’t know.’
Herbert handed him a glass, and he drank its contents absent-mindedly.
‘Then our interests are aligned,’ Herbert declared with a cheerful note as he sat beside his brother.
For a few seconds, the room was silent as the two men pondered on the latest obstacle in their path.
‘You can’t kill Christopher, Heb. We have to keep him happy,’ the judge said, staring into the fire burning wildly in the fireplace.
‘There are fates much worse than death,’ Herbert uttered. ‘I will cut his heart out instead.’
A thought flashed through his mind, and his lips curved.
‘Tim, did you press the button?’
The judge looked at his brother wide-eyed. ‘I did! I forgot.’
‘Perfect. It goes down tomorrow,’ Herbert announced with a steely look in his eyes.