Rebecca as Target
As she walks to the door to leave her house, Rebecca glances out the window and sees an unfamiliar black car with men in it. She thinks better of leaving the house. Instead, she calls Jeremy, the bodyguard on call at precinct headquarters less than ten minutes away. As he comes around the corner in his police vehicle approaching her house from Rebecca’s left, the black car takes off heading the other way. Before it can pick up any speed, it’s stopped by an unmarked police car that makes a sudden turn blocking the street.
The men in the car are arrested. Their assault rifle and handguns are taken from them, and they’re taken down to the precinct for questioning. When Rebecca arrives, the police have them in separate rooms, threatening them with long prison terms and offering immunity if they rat out their bosses. They’re not talking. Both sides are angry and belligerent.
“I’d like to speak to them, and both at the same time. You can watch and listen from the window, but I’d need to be in there alone.”
“You’re crazy! You’re the one they were after. How do you know they won’t finish the job they were sent to do?”
“They’re amateurs and they’re caught. If they were pros they would’ve killed you both and taken off. They don’t want to die or go to jail for the rest of their lives. They won’t hurt me, and I need to change the atmosphere.”
Rebecca is in a small room across a small table from Max and Ray. Both are white guys from Othertown. Could be white supremacists. Could be gangsters. She looks at them one by one. Occasionally one of them meets her gaze, but usually they look away. She concentrates on her mantra until the words emerge. “I don’t blame you.” She pauses. “This thing is bigger than all of us. We all play our roles. Some are in power. Some are in pain. You’ve mostly known anger and pain. I’ve mostly known love, warmth, admiration, and now I’m in power. Why have our lives been so different?” She pauses for several minutes.
“Believe it or not, I’m sincerely trying to help you. I’m going to ask you some yes or no questions. When I ask and the answer is yes….” She pauses. Max squints slightly. Ray moves his index finger. “When I ask and the answer is no….” Max scowls. Ray turns slightly to his right.
“Did you get involved in this because you hate black people?” Max scowls, Ray turns right.
“Is it just a job?” Max squints. Ray’s finger moves.
“Are you afraid of your employer?” Squint, finger.
“Is your employer in Othertown?” Scowl, turn.
“Is your employer in New York?” Squint, finger.
“Look. Whether you go to jail or not, you’re highly likely to run into more anger and pain. Your employer is already pissed that you failed. If we take nice care of you for a few days and let you out, a lot of people are going to think you told us something we want to know. Especially if we start closing in on Sarkozi.” She pauses to watch that name take effect.
“But it’s not just this world you need to worry about. Are you aware that there’s a spirit world you go to when you die?” Squint, finger. “Unless you turn yourselves around in this physical world, you’re going to a world of even greater pain than you’re suffering here. Seriously. I know what I’m talking about, and I’m offering you a chance to rise quickly to a higher level – here in this world and in the next.” She pauses and watches the muscles in their necks. “I want you both to abandon the team you’ve been working for and join my team. If you do, you’ll immediately begin enjoying life more. You’ll feel lighter. Colors will brighten. You’ll feel better about yourselves, and you’ll get to know a new group of people who will treat you like human beings instead of like tools or beasts of burden. Life does not have to be what you’ve been going through. I’m offering you a way out. You may not have another chance like this.”
“What’d we have to do?” asks Max.
“I want you to be my bodyguards, and if you agree, I’ll ask you to do everything in your power to protect me from the people who want me dead. I’ll put you on the city police force. You’ll get a decent wage, and the Anytown police will give you all the help they can.”
“She’s lying,” Ray spits out.
“No she ain’t, and you know it,” Max glares at him. “I wanna do it, and if I have to, I’ll protect her against you.”
“Shee-it, you are such a sucker.”
“Look at her, Ray. Look at her!!” He raises his voice. Ray glances up at Rebecca. “Now compare her to that gorilla we work for. Who do you think is the better bet?” Ray is silent, looking down. In a minute or two he looks up at Rebecca. Their eyes meet and stay locked for what feels to both to be a long, long time.
“Are you for real?” he finally says.
“I’m for real. I want you on my team. Please.” Tears stream from Ray’s eyes. No one has ever wanted him for anything before. No one has ever offered him anything. Even as a baby, he always had to scream, claw and grab for everything he got. He’s afraid of the warmth he feels, like he might explode. He breaks down in loud, open sobs, his face on the table. Rebecca reaches out and takes his hand.
Officer Raddick is dazed and confused. “We arrested these guys this morning, with guns in front of your house. They were going to shoot you. Now you want us to put them on the force, with pay? To guard you?”
“Officer Raddick, we’re fighting an enemy with vastly more power and resources than we have. These two are not the problem. In fact, they’re now part of the solution.”
“But how can we trust them? A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”
“I saw them change. I watched it happen. So did Jefferson and Starks, ask them. In any case, please hire them as my bodyguards, but more than that, please treat them like friends, like allies. Try to be nice. It’ll be hard. They don’t know how to be friends. They’re still a bit like wild animals. It’s your job to tame them. Whatever you do, don’t start grilling them for what they know. Treat them like they’re on our side now, and they’ll use whatever they have to help us when the time comes. Please, just try it this way for a while. If you run into trouble, let me know.”
Max and Ray now take turns with Jeremy driving Rebecca to work every morning. They take turns guarding her all day, then drive her home at night. Occasionally, each takes the night shift. After about a week, Max picks her up, they get in the car, and he says, “Mayor Whyte, I have a bad feeling. I think they’re going to try again, maybe soon.”
“When did you first have this feeling?”
“As I opened my door to leave this morning, I remembered waiting outside your house for you to open your door.”
“Stop the car. OK, now close your eyes and think back to when you were opening the door and having that feeling.” She pauses to let Max bring it all back. “What do you see?”
“I see a black car driving fast down the street.”
“Was that car really there this morning?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Please take me home.” As Max turns the car around, Rebecca calls Chief Scalia, “Chief, I have reason to think some guys in a black car are waiting on my route to work. They’ll have guns and they’ll be much more dangerous than Max and Ray. Please send some men out to find them, but warn them to keep their distance. Also, the car could be white or any color, really. You’re looking for a car with two or three men in it. These guys will be extremely hard to take alive, but please do it if you can.”
As soon as he gets the word, Officer Roberts drives past a white car with men sitting in it.
“Chief, I think I just saw them. They’re parked right in front of Pat’s Café. Do I engage?”
“No, when you’re out of sight, circle back and keep an eye on them. I’m sending back up. When the others arrive, circle the car but don’t do anything until the copter gets there. The copter will talk to them. You stay out of sight for now.” Soon, the white car is surrounded by eight of Anytown’s finest and a minute or two later, the copter arrives.
A loud voice from the copter says, “Step out of the car with your hands in the air.” Nothing happens. The copter again. “Open the doors and get out of the car with your hands in the air.” The men inside are calculating their chances, but as soon as they notice the policemen behind cars pointing guns at them, they know the jig is up. They open the door and get out with their hands in the air.
“Mayor Whyte, the men have been captured without incident and are down at the station.”
“Good job, Chief. Thank you. Looking forward to the story – yours and theirs.”
“How did you know?”
“I didn’t. Max did.”
“I’ll be looking forward to that story. So are you going to add these guys to your guard detail?”
“I’m gonna try. I’ll be down as soon as Max can get me there.” Rebecca puts the phone in her pocket, then, “Thank you, Max. I think you just saved my life.”
“You saved mine,” Max replies, beaming. “Now we’re even. But it ain’t over yet. Not by a long shot.”