Story:Conspiracy of Meerkats Part Five
Conspiracy of Meerkats Part Five
Written by JWolfman and Herrwozzek
Trent Westerlyn paced inside his office within the administration building for the Baltimore Spirits FBA team. Ever since he noticed some of his head feathers withering apart and falling off due to extreme stress, he had taken to wearing a cap even indoors but no amount of attire could hide the pain of his ulcer that developed just recently. The raven huffed loudly, and his eyes gaze over at the Baltimore Sun newspaper with the frontpage sports headline ‘SPIRITS IN TROUBLE?’ and a gloomy photo of Trent just below it. His beak grind against itself and he picked up the newspaper, rolling it roughly before tossing it into the trash bin.
The lawsuit continued to drag on, and there was serious worry that he could risk losing the FBA team that he plotted for years to take control over. Using subtle bribery and ‘hints’ to convince previous owner Samuel Windance to hire Linda Khaldi was merely a plot to firmly bring her father Nasser into the fold and turn him into his ‘enforcer’ and ally. The attacks on Windance’s character and the ‘leaks’ that led to its exposure to the public triggered him to sell the team under pressure. With the FBA team under his control, Trent began plotting to achieve the end game goal, then he was slapped with the fraud lawsuit and then the report by Tashira Rucson further complicated things.
Trent sighed and walked to his office’s personal bar that he had installed soon after he owned the team, and poured himself a shot of whiskey. The buzzing sound from his intercom interrupted him however, and after drinking the shot, he walked to his desk and pressed the button.
“What is it, Deborah?”
His secretary’s cheery voice answered. “Nasser Khaldi is here to see you, sir.”
“Hrmph. Send him in,” Trent said with a grumble and he smoothed over his dress shirt.
Nasser opened the door and walked into the office, softly closing the door behind him. The meerkat had on a coat to cover his suit, which he didn’t bother to take off as he sat down on a nearby couch. “We have a problem.”
Trent sighed and leaned against his desk, crossing his wings. “We have a lot of problems. What is it this time, Nasser?”
“It’s that Tashira Rucson bitch again,” Nasser said with a frown. “She ran off.”
Trent stood up straight and quickly. “What?”
“Honestly I don’t know where she is now,” Nasser said with a sigh, and he massaged his forehead while slouched onto the couch.
“Didn’t you say you were gonna take care of it?” Trent asked and frowned, the black-feathered avian crossing his arms behind his desk inside his office. “You said you were gonna take care of Rucson and now you don’t know where the hell she is.”
“I had someone burn her goddamn apartment down, but then she later tweeted that she wasn’t there!” He huffed loudly. “And… the tweet implied that she wasn’t there for a week or two already. Something spooked her and she ran off before my men could implement our plan to silence her for good.”
“Spooked her?” Trent said curiously and he frowned slightly. He stood up and started pacing again. “What else did you try to do?”
“We kept a distance from her for observation… then a few weeks ago, she received some package and soon afterwards she took a flight to Miami. Likely to see that journalist Will Steinberg…”
“A package…?” Trent asked and then blinked, remembering a key incident. “I… had one of my lawyers send money to her via a protected shell company.”
Nasser paused in silence, watching him with a stare in disbelief. He heard something from him that he didn’t want to hear. “You… what?”
“I figured I could bribe her to shut up, Nasser. It was hush money… nothing like I haven’t done before,” Trent explained, but there was something about Nasser’s expression that immediately sent tense chills up his spine.
“You… used a shell…” The words came out of Nasser’s mouth slowly and quietly, but then suddenly he stood up from the couch and ran toward the avian. Before Trent reacted in self-defense, Nasser slammed him backfirst onto the wall, his paws clenching the collar of Trent’s shirt tightly. He hissed loudly, his eyes flaring in wrath. “What the fuck were you thinking?! Now there could be a trail leading to us!”
Trent knew the meerkat had a temper problem, but he never saw him this angry, and especially never touched him in this manner. He whimpered softly for a curt moment before his bravado came back and he hissed back at him. “I’m your goddamn boss… and you fucking let me go!”
“Let me make this perfectly clear…” Nasser said and growled, the meerkat’s fangs close to Trent’s face. “You’re the one that orders people around… but I’m the one that turns people into bodies with toe tags in morgues. Make too many mistakes, and one day you will have a thin bedsheet cover your face.”
With those words, he huffed loudly and let go of Trent. He smoothed over Trent’s shirt for him, and then briskly turned to head for the door. “I’ll find Tashira Rucson. And when I do, I will make her disappear for good.” He then stopped and turned again to face him. “May I give you some advice… sir?”
Trent knew he would give him the advice regardless of his response so he grunted and looked back at him.
“Don’t interfere with my plans again,” Nasser said with a measure of calm, and then turned to leave the office finally. Trent breathed out a long sigh of relief once he was alone in the office once again, and then slumped his body onto his desk chair. He massaged his forehead, wondering if there would ever be an end to this down spiral.
Will Steinberg hobbled towards his car, moving quickly on his leg. It had been another subpar, frustrating day at the office as usual, and the only way he could really show it was in how unusually fast he moved.
“Of course…” Will sighed, spotting his car.
A gray fox dressed in a business suit climbed out of his car as soon as he spotted Will outside on the parking lot, and he waves to get the feline’s attention. “Mr. Steinberg, sir? Can I have a moment with you, sir?”
Will paused, swivelling his head towards the fox. His ears shot up, before he turned away. “Not interested in an interview, sir.”
The fox starts walking toward him. “Baltimore PD.” He pulled out his wallet, opening it to show off his identification badge.
Will blinked, spotting the police badge in shock. He then stopped, before turning to face the officer. “What in the hell are you doing here?” he asked. “Isn’t this way outside your jurisdiction?”
The fox couldn’t help but to smirk and then nodded. “Well yes, but I’m working on a case that might be way outside of the city I work in. Mind if I ask you a few questions?”
“You’re supposed to hand that off to the FBI, though,” Will replied.
“Chances are it might go to the FBI but… every experience I had with those obnoxious snobs always end up frustrating for me, so I would rather not call up the feds unless it’s really necessary.”
Will sighed. “I know my friend Agundio would…” He then paused, before shaking his head and waving dismissively. “Never mind. What do you want?”
The fox sighed. “Forgive my manners, I’m Detective Anderson…” He then pulled out a small photo showing Tashira Rucson and held it up. “You recognize this woman?”
Will frowned, before looking at the fox. “Why do you want to know?”
“I have evidence that she arrived at this building,” he motioned toward the Miami Trumpeter building. “And that she came here to see you. She’s not a suspect for any crime, but I need to find her for questioning. And that she may have evidence that I need to help me on this case I’m working on.”
Will nodded, narrowing his eyes as he looked at the fox. “Well, yeah, it’s true she came to see me,” he said. “I dunno why an envelope from a shell company in Delaware’s of any interest to you, though, unless…”
The fox tipped his head forward, and one of his ears flick. “Excuse me? Shell company from Delaware?”
Will’s ear perked up, and his expression softened slightly before he turned to him. “Yeah,” he said. “Or do you not know the contents of that envelope?”
“No… I don’t. Care to elaborate please? Do you know where she is?”
Will nodded. “She’s staying with the father of a friend of mine,” he said. “I know everything she knows, though, and I’ve even made a photocopy of the evidence, just in case anyone came to clean house. I could take you there myself, if you want me to.”
“I would appreciate that, thank you… is her life seriously in danger? We’re still investigating on what caused the fire in her apartment.”
“She shouldn’t be,” Will replied, gesturing to his car. “She’d been staying in Miami before her apartment went up in flames, and I told her to make sure nobody could track her here.” He scoffed. “Looks like I wasn’t covering her tracks carefully enough, if you’re here.”
“Ms. Rucson pretty much entered the building through the front door. That’s not exactly a good way of keeping secret,” Anderson said and grinned. He’ll walk toward Will’s car. “I have a strong feeling that arson’s involved with the fire… I just need to find enough dots to make connections.”
“Believe me, you’ll find your starting point soon enough.” Will then opened his door. “Come on, we’ll talk more when you see her in person.”
Anderson nodded again. “Thank you, Mr. Steinberg. Thank you for keeping her safe, by the way. I’ve been looking at her work for months, and those accusations on Trent Westeryln… that’s playing with fire. Being from Baltimore, I’m more than aware of his family and how far their reach can be.”
“Well, he can’t touch Miami with his little fingers, so good luck to him there,” Will replied. “Besides, as a fellow journalist, it’s kinda my job to look out for my colleagues, you know?”
“Except for the hacks like FMZ or Briebart?” He chuckled.
Will nodded. “FMZ can go screw off, yes,” he said. “Come on, let’s go..”