Cody nervously shifted from one foot to the other as he stood in front of Frank's office door. He thought it strange that he felt nervous about seeing Frank after working under Frank for quite some time.
Not that Cody was complaining. True, he'd progressed well under Keller, but there was just that something about working for Frank that piqued his interest to come into work every day.
That honing of his skills was what he enjoyed, sharp enough before Keller's death, now developed to such an extent that Cody sometimes felt he could keep at least three steps ahead of his adversary.
Except for this time around. Cody didn't know what went wrong--or how. He just knew he felt miserable about not realizing the problem sooner. He could have stopped things before they got out of hand. When he'd discovered the truth, his stomach churned into a roiling ball of hot bile and he felt faint.
Never, never once did he think things could happen to her. Not her. And never once did he think that someone could stoop so low. "Even crooks have feelings. They love. Look at Sonny and how he loved--and lost." Jake's voice echoed in Cody's mind. Cody remembered when Jake was talking to him about his thoughts of Sonny.
Alex sauntered into the office
just then, on her way from the gym: another grueling workout but a workout
Even Monica, predilected towards baklava several times a week, had needed only one sharp glance from Frank to encourage her to return to a high grain, low protein diet--a diet on which she seemed to thrive. Cody was noticing Monica a lot these days.
His teammate made a motion to talk to him, then noticed where Cody was standing. She smiled encouragement at Cody, wondering what, after all this time, could have Cody nervous about meeting with Frank.
"He won't bite," Alex mouthed at Cody as she entered the kitchen. He nodded in reply and then the unexpected occured.
Frank's door opened. "Yes?" He didn't appear startled to see Cody standing there, one foot in the air.
"Um, I have a problem. Sir."
"Then come in." Frank stepped back and allowed Cody to enter his office. As Cody entered, he looked around. He had to admit he liked the new furniture Frank had ordered. Frank shut the door. "More human," Jake had whispered to him when the furniture was delivered from one of the European design stores down along the waterfront.
Cody went to the chair across from the desk. In buttercream leather, the chair was highly functional, yet seemed futuristic with its sleek Euro design.
It was also comfortable. Cody sat down, followed by Frank a few seconds later.
Frank steepled his fingers, waiting for Cody to begin.
"It's about my grandmother."
"Is she all right?"
Frank raised his eyebrows.
"It's just that, well, I don't know if this is our business."
"What is not our business?"
Cody took a deep breath. There was only one way to find out if the team could take this case and that was to tell Frank. He took another deep breath before saying, "Someone scammed my granny."
Ah, a man of few words! "Someone phoned her, telling her that he was me. He asked her for a loan."
"Did she comply?"
Cody squirmed inwardly. "Yes. She sent the money."
"Sent?" The eyebrows went up again.
"Yes. She sent the money to a post box near my address."
"What else can you tell me?"
Cody was flustered. What else could he tell Frank? "She sent him a thousand bucks."
"From where did she send the money?"
Bing! A light went off in Cody's head. Of course! His nanna was temporarily living in Ohio, on an archaeological research grant. Ellen Forrester, his paternal grandmother, at the young age (as Ellen preferred to refer) of 75, was preparing for her master's thesis on the Mississipian culture. She was currently studying the Woodland Period, around two thousand years ago.
Frank continued. "I presume from your expession the money was sent from out of state."
Cody nodded. "From Ohio. Chillicothe to be exact."
"Adena and Hopewellian culture. She's writing her thesis?"
"How did you know?"
"Ellen dropped by before she left, wanting to see you."
"Forgot about that. I was, uh, rather unavailable." And Cody sorely wished he hadn't been on assignment that day. But crooks do not stop their crime spree to say: "Gee, Cody. Guess we'll stop thieving a moment while you go see your granny." Then Jake's words came back to him. "Even crooks have feelings." Maybe crooks have feelings but apparently they reserved those feelings for their own relatives.
"You were doing your job. She's a hardy woman."
"I suppose. Her mother lived until 98, so I guess nanna has quite some time."
"Enough time to get her Ph.D."
"Do you think she will? Get her Ph.D.?" Cody inquired earnestly. He dearly loved his nanna Ellen but truthfully, her studying for her master's degree took all the fun out of his life this last year. He sorely missed their Sunday afternoons (Frank's grueling work schedule permitting him), strolling along the waterfront, chatting about everything, from antiques to archaeology, followed by dinner at one of the new trendy restaurants.
"I don't see why not," Frank replied to Cody's dismay. He was a bit selfish, wanting his nanna to spend as much time with him as possible. "We know there is someone from around your neighborhood who is pulling a multi-state fraud," Frank finished.
"So we set up a surveillance around my neighborhood."
"With Jake as the decoy."
"Yes. We'll set up surveillance today." Frank inclined his head towards Cody, indicating that Cody was to assemble the team. "Two hours," Frank supplied. "Dismissed."
How does he know what I'm thinking? It's so weird! Cody thought as he stood up.
"No, thank you Cody. We'll get the man who scammed Ellen." When Frank promised something, he always delivered, and a wave of relief washed over Cody.
Cody turned around. "Yes?"
"Drinks at Morton's. Five pm. Tell the team."
"Yes, sir!" Cody smiled; Frank merely ignored him and looked down at the papers on his desk. Cody took that as a signal to go.
Cody left Frank's office, hearing the door shut behind him. He immediately met the stares of Jake, Monica and Alex.
"Well?" Alex asked, her eyes full of concern.
"Drinks at Morton's. 5 pm," Cody replied, grinning despite his anguish.
"He's lightening up," Monica observed.
"And?" Alex prompted. "You were pretty hesitant about seeing him."
"He's gonna help."
"What's wrong?" Moncia now asked. Cody bit his lower lip, then replied:
"Someone scammed my granny."
Meanwhile, in Frank's office...
After Cody left his office, Frank sat back in his chair, steepling his fingers. He lingered there for a moment, then got up and fixed a cup of coffee.
Taking the steaming up back to his desk, he sat down and stared at steam rising from the cup.
Making his decision, he picked up the phone, dialed a number and listened to the ringing.
"Ellen? Frank Donovan. I've
a favor to ask..."
a few weeks later....
On the van's computer monitors, the team watched to the two men and the woman making phone calls from the apartment's home office.
"That's Cammie," Alex said. "The red head is Colin, and the other fella is Brian."
Jake commented, "Good job with the video, Cody."
"Wasn't hard. My apartment is right next door. It was easy," Cody replied.
"Hit a bit too close to home," was Monica's comment.
"Frank?" Cody now asked. Frank invited a response by lifting an eyebrow. "Why did you ask my grandmother to help?"
"I thought she'd like to help catch the people who scammed her," Frank replied.
"Well, yeah. But they already knew her number," Cody pointed out.
Frank merely looked at him.
Cody looked confused. Alex explained. "Frank had Ellen send a postcard telling Harvey Anderson her 'new' cell phone number."
"So, you set up a sting?" Cody inquired. "Isn't that entrapment?"
"No," Frank replied.
"Why not?" Cody asked.
"Harvey Anderson doesn't exist."
"He needed to make sure we had the right people. The cell phone number was non-existent," Alex supplied.
Monica continued the explanation. "When Cammie came across that postcard in the building's mailroom, she asked Brian if they should phone the number. She was wanting more money. Here. Here's the tape," Monica said as she pulled out a surveillance video tape and popped it into one of the vcrs.
She pushed the play button, then fast-forwarded the tape until she got to the part she wanted Cody to see.
"They didn't actually steal any mail," Alex offered. "They just looked through the mail."
"Will they get charged for that?" Cody asked, turning around to look at Frank.
"Depends," was Frank's reply. "Perhaps breaking and entering."
"Here it is," Monica commented, turning up the volume.
On the screen, Cammie and Brian were riffling through the tenants' mail in the mailroom. When she found the postcard in the Anderson slot, she pulled it out, looked at it and squealed.
"Brian! Look!" Cammie showed the postcard to Brian. He looked at it, turned it over, and read it.
"Dear Harvey. Your old granny finally came into the 21st century. I got a cell phone! You'll have to show me how to use the text messaging function. But please call your grandmother. 555-9212. Love, Granna Erlene."
On the tape the team was watching, Cammie was getting excited. "It's what we need!"
"No," came Brian's reply.
"Why not? We're here. This is the third time we've used this building."
"No. Look at the post mark. It's out of state."
"So?" Cammie asked, pouting her very pink lips.
Brian sighed, then to Cody's amazement, looked straight into the camera for a moment. Brian looked back at Cammie. "If we get caught, that Wisconsin postmark gets the feds involved."
"Police, feds. They're all the same," Cammie said, then reached up and hugged Brian. "Please? It's an easy mark."
Brian disentangled himself from Cammie's embrace. "Cammie, doll. You don't understand..."
"What's to understand? We got a number, a couple of names. Pretty please?" Cammie entreated, then pouted again.
"Will you listen a moment?"
"All right. But I don't have to like it."
"See, if we get caught doing an out of state job, the feds get involved. And we get sent to one of the Club Feds."
"How will they know it's out of state?"
"The post mark. See here, this is postmarked Wisconsin. She'd have to send us the money from out of state, which gets the feds involved."
"You just said that!" Cammie replied.
"I'm trying to make my point."
"That other old lady sent us something from Ohio and nothing happened," Cammie pointed out.
"And that's why I don't want to risk it. See, I was talking to Ricky."
"Yeah. Word came back he's doing three to five in state. Ricky didn't squeal on us, doll."
"That was nice of him to take the rap, sweetcakes." Cammie reached up and ran her finger along Brian's lips.
"Nice? He let us walk for that Albany job after we split on him."
"I don't like robbing stores and I didn't like Ricky."
"That's why we're doing this type of job, doll."
"I gotta admit, I like this better. No physical stuff. But I don't understand about this fed business."
"He got some friends on the inside who told him about this crossing state lines business. We get a stiffer sentence if the feds catch us."
"How much stiffer?" Cammie asked, fear creeping into her voice.
"Much stiffer, like no parole. Now that Ellen woman, she is the only one we doing that's from out of state."
Cammie merely pouted in reply.
Brian went on. "You gotta promise me, Cammie. We ever get caught, you don't mention nothin about Ellen Forrester. Nothin. You hear?"
"Yeah. I hear. Nothing about Ellen Forrester. But she was an easy mark. Sent the money overnight by the postal office. Extra cash, too!"
Brian smiled. "Yeah. That was a nice dinner that money bought. But no more about Ellen. We best forget her. We forget her name, even."
Brian smiled, then pulled Cammie towards him and kissed her. "That's my girl," he told her when he was done. Cammie smiled, then pulled back from him. She dropped the postcard back into Harvey Anderson's mail slot.
In the van, Monica turned the tape off. Cody was sitting with an angry dark look on his face.
"They went out to dinner on my grandmother's dime?" was all he could say.
"Morton's. In fact, they were there the night we had drinks at Morton's," Alex told Cody.
"Sat six tables away from us," Jake put in.
In response, Cody just glared at the machines. Then, to everyone's surprise, he stood up, and punched the wall of the van.
"Cody," Frank said quietly. Cody turned to look at Frank."We've got enough to charge them. Want to do that now?"
Cody stopped his ranting. "Yes. I would."
The corner's of Frank's mouth
turned up ever so slightly. "Let's go."
Ten minutes later...
Frank motioned for his team to be ready to enter the apartment the moment he broke down the door of Apartment 4G. With an experienced kick from Frank, the door burst open. Jake and Alex went in first, guns held out, followed by Frank with his gun. Cody, toting a gun, and Monica toting a tape recorder, took up the rear.
"FBI! Freeze!" Jake told the surprised group of three.
Brian stood up, Cammie froze and Colin pushed back his chair.
Brian spoke first. "What's up? We were just sitting here, talking on the phone."
"Mmmm, hmmm," Jake said. "Monica?"
Monica turned on the tape recorder. Brian's voice sounded in the room. "Dear Harvey. Your old granny finally came into the 21st century. I got a cell phone! You'll have to show me how to use the text messaging function. But please call your grandmother. 555-9212. Love, Granna Erlene."
Monica clicked off the tape recorder. Cody spoke up. "First mistake. Had Erlene gotten a cell phone, she'd have phoned Harvey instead of sending him a postcard."
Alex put in, "The second mistake you made was that you picked his grandmother to scam," Alex indicated Cody with her gun.
Cody spoke again. "You're under arrest. Up against the wall," he motioned the gun at Brian.
Brian stood his ground. "You ain't the one in charge, skinny. That tall dude is the man in charge."
Frank raised his eyebrow at Brian. He flicked his own gun towards the wall, then spoke in a low tone, "Face up against the wall, Brian," Frank told Brian.
Brian looked from Cody to Frank, then sighed and faced the wall.
"Cody?" Frank asked, and Cody went forward with a pair of handcuffs. As he cuffed Brian, Alex and Jake were cuffing Cammie and Colin, respectively.
Cody cleared his throat a bit. "You're under arrest for interstate mail fraud and grand larceny."
"Is that all?" Frank prompted.
"And whatever else we can lay on you," Cody added angrily, his dark eyes flashing. "You scammed my grandma."
Frank shook his head, then continued reading the Miranda rights to the three suspects. It was Cody's first arrest and Frank was willing to allow him some personal feelings this time. After all, Ellen Forrester had been scammed by the trio and Frank was willing to bet that Cody was feeling a rush of satisfaction just now.
As Brian turned around, he asked, "Who's your granny?"
Cody looked to Frank. He wasn't sure if he should divulge that information but Frank nodded.
"Ellen. Ellen Forrester."
Cammie looked away. "Sorry, man."
"Tell it to the judge," Alex told her as she led Cammie away. Jake led Colin away and Frank took Brian from Cody, leaving Cody and Monica alone in the apartment.
Cody looked around. "Right next door. And I didn't know."
"We got enough evidence to convict them."
Cody went over and looked at the piles of paper on the three desks. He picked up one sheet. "Mrs Gardener, 555-3253. Andrew. Mrs Michael Anderson, 555-9843. Marybeth. Mrs Arnold Schweitzer, 555-1209. Joshua." He picked up other pieces of paper. "There's a whole pile, just full of numbers and names."
"They'll get a nice long stay in Club Fed," Monica told him as an evidence technician entered the apartment.
"Okay, you two. Donovan wants you outside," Enrique Perez said.
"We'd better go," Cody said,
then he and Monica left the apartment.
A week later...at the Nest, the team is gathered around the table. Ellen Forrester is there as well.
Frank handed Ellen Forrester a brand new cell phone. "No static with this brand."
Ellen smiled at Frank. "Thank you. Thank you so much."
Frank merely smiled then replied. "It's our job."
Monica leaned on her elbows. "Was that why you sent the money? You couldn't understand him through the static?"
Ellen nodded. "At first, I couldn't think why Cody needed the money. Then I thought, well, for whatever reason, he must need it if he's asking. So I sent it. It sure sounded like his voice."
"But with the static you couldn't be too sure," Jake commented.
"True. But how did they know my number? And what his name was?" Ellen looked confused.
Frank looked at Cody, who explained. "The mail for my building comes in the late morning, when most of the tenants are at work. Cammie and Brian jimmied the lock on the mailroom door, then riffed through the tenants' mail, looking for likely candidates."
"But how did they get my name in the first place?" Ellen now wanted to know.
Jake spoke up. "Mailing lists. They bought mailing lists."
Ellen looked positively perplexed. She looked at Frank.
"Mailing lists contain a lot of personal information. Did you purchase anything or send anything via a gift certificate?" Frank inquired of Ellen.
Understanding dawned on Ellen's face. "That ski jacket I sent Cody."
"Yes," Frank replied.
Monica put in, "The mail order company you bought from used state prisoners as their telemarketers to take customer orders."
"I told that nice young man who took my order what a wonderful grandson that I had."
"That nice young man was a state prisoner," Jake observed.
"And you told him my name when you gave him my address," Cody told his grandmother.
Alex chimed in, "Lists were secretly made of all the information gathered from the customers, then sold off to the outside. Some of the guards were in on it."
"I had no idea. I'm so sorry," Ellen sadly said.
"No need to be sorry, Ellen," Frank told her. "It's happened to many people."
Ellen seemed resigned. "What was Colin's role?"
"He ran the ring, getting the lists, and splitting the profits with Cammie and Brian. He was the one who made the actual phone calls about the loans," Cody replied.
"Cammie and Brian called ahead and ascertained that the grandmas were living alone and that they hadn't spoken to their grandkids in some time."
"Colin has a persuasive voice," Ellen told her grandson. "He could have been an actor."
"A regular comedian," Monica said.
"Well, all's well that ends well," Ellen said. "I'm out only a thousand..."
Cody interrupted, "But nanna..."
Ellen held up her hand to silence him. "I was taken in. All I lost was a thousand. Frank says some women lost their life savings. I'm just grateful that I've got a grandson like you." She reached over and kissed Cody on the cheek.
For his part, Cody turned bright red. Frank tried to hide a smile by going to get some coffee, and Jake merely cleared his throat. Alex and Monica just smiled at Cody, making his face turn brighter red when Ellen pulled back and ruffled Cody's hair.
"Nanna!" Cody protested but Ellen merely laughed. Frank came up with two cups of coffee and offered one to Ellen.
"Yes. Yes, thank you," Ellen said, accepting the proffered cup. She took a sip, then held the cup. "You know, Cody, I never quite understood just why you and your father went into the spy business. Now I know."
"It's our job," Cody echoed Frank's earlier words as Frank sat down with his own cup of coffee.
Ellen continued happily. "Now that I've helped to catch some thieves, I've been thinking of helping out around here a bit more." Ellen sipped her coffee again while Cody looked at Frank.
"Nothing wrong with a little help," Frank commented as Cody gaped at him. "Well, Ellen. We'll have you back to Chillicothe in the helicopter. Cody? Want to go along with her?"
"You bet!" Cody replied, relief showing on his face. "Just so long as she gets back to Chillicothe safely."
An hour later, as Frank, Cody and Ellen are standing on the roof, awaiting the helicopter to land. When the helicopter lands, Frank helps Ellen into the helicopter. He stands back to allow Cody to enter the helicopter. As Cody is entering the helicopter, he pauses a moment, then asks:
"Sir?" Cody motioned for Frank to come closer. Frank complied. "Thanks for not allowing my granna to help us," he said into Frank's ear.
"I said there was nothing wrong with a little help. I never said never, Cody," Frank told Cody. "Time's wasting," Frank commented. Cody pulled the door shut, and Frank stepped back. The helicopter lifted up. Frank shaded his eyes, and watched Cody watching him with a stunned look on his face.
Turning to go inside, Frank
allowed himself a small smile.