About Henry Fellows
On Killing and Innocence: The Chronicles of Henry Fellows
I smile a little, thinking about joking around with some of the less uptight people at our corporate headquarters. Fellows Security, making sure your cell phone conversations never, ever, ever go away. Fellows Security, storing all your personal financial information on a server you didn’t pay for, free of charge! Fellows Security, screw with us, and we’ll open your country’s commodities markets to the hackers of the world! I even made up jingles. It really pissed my dad off. He had no idea how the company worked, in the end. The man was born in a time when a computer filled an entire room. He covered himself with the mantra, privacy and discretion is a basic human right. Really, dear old dad didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. We were way past privacy. Fellows Security was the gatekeeper for secrets. For some reason, scary people trusted us with their terabytes. Let’s just put it this way: Fellows had to help out the NSA on more than one occasion. We had government and military liaisons working right alongside. Ostensibly, we were a defense contractor. Governments worked for us as much as we worked for them. My responsibilities centered around information protection and secure data storage; hence the skills at surreptitious money manipulation. Perks.
I know what you’re saying. Sounds crazy. Agreed. But there are pills for that.
“But impossible,” I say, coming out of my little trance. Everyone’s staring, wondering where my mind has been.
“What is?” Floyd asks.
“What Marie said. We went over this during the trial. If the murders were about getting information, we will never find them. It could literally be anybody. Anybody with secrets needing to be erased, someone who wanted access to data. Don’t you think it was my first thought? None of that crap could even come out. It’s all locked behind thousands of pages of confidentiality agreements and lawyer shit I can’t even pronounce.”
“But it’s our best guess,” Marie says, holding a hand up, like she’s anticipating being interrupted. “Just stay with me. I get it. Needle in a haystack. But someone killed your parents, someone who knows things.”
“That may well be true, but—”
“But they didn’t get it, whatever it is they were after.”
“You guys probably heard all this. My father wasn’t schooled in the day-to-day. He couldn’t have provided access if he wanted to.”
“Were they tortured?” Billy asks. I’m about to tell him to shut up, but the look in his eyes stays my ire.
“Yes, Billy. Cut up into hundreds of pieces. It was on the news.”
“I know. But in the trial, did you ever find out if they were tortured? A cow is butchered, but it doesn’t necessarily imply torture. Get me?”
We all look fixedly at Billy, past the vestures of a tool, blocking out the spiked up greasy hair and the shiny shirt. “Hearing you out,” I say. “But again, we thought of all this. If anyone wanted to get information they could figure out in two seconds that he was incapable of providing it.”
“Right. But he could tell them who could. A person uniquely equipped with both the know-how and the access to get at the deep and the dark. You were COO.”
“That’s a plausible theory. But it’s one that Nina and I explored. Again, nothing.” Annoyance is seeping into my speech. Going over old frustrations can be quite frustrating. They were terrible times, times when I still had enough hope to soldier on. Made coming up empty all the worse. My “chemical dependencies” really ramped up during those dark days.
“Take us through one more time, Hank.” I can see my old handler is fully engaged; might as well humor him.
“Some real nasty guys show up. They case my parents’ estate, find a way past the guards, or pay them to take a break. This makes it look like the killer was somebody they knew, since none of the guards were touched and apparently none of them heard a damn thing.”
“Right. And they were vetted? Thoroughly?”
“Yeah. They were vetted. What do I look like?” Realizing I don’t want an answer to the question, I hold my hand up. “So they drill down on my folks for information, literally, God only knows what, and they can’t provide it.” My lungs reach for air. It’s easy to forget that in all the mystery and strangeness these were still the people who raised me. “So they torture them. Maybe they hurt my mom. That’d be about the only way to get that old cuss to talk. Loved her like nothing else.”
“And he gives you up,” Marie says. “You were privy to most operations of the company at that point, correct?”
“Yeah. I was hands-on with the programmers, in as many places as I could be at once. So operating off of Billy’s line—only thing that makes sense—they go all Nightmare on Elm Street to obfuscate any signs of interrogation. They take nothing. Leave millions in art and jewelry. Make it look very, very personal.”
“But they screw up,” Floyd says. “Don’t realize quite the job they’re doing. Before they can get to you the police already have you in custody.”
“Yeah. Cops had their man from the jump.” I sit back down on the stool in the corner. “If this is the way it went down—and I’m not saying it is—it’s pretty ironic. Getting pinched for their crime, the guy that they did the whole thing for.”
“Which they didn’t know going in. Can’t assume anything, really. Could be they just blew it. Found out you were the guy they needed right then and there. The media made a big deal about your dad being the brains behind the tech. You were relatively obscure, you know. Shit happens on a job. Maybe they just got it wrong,” Marie says. She’s looking up at me now, big brown eyes. She’s changed in a few spots but I think age has made her even prettier. Shorter hair, less of that youthful weight around her jaws. All of a sudden I have the crazy notion of sitting down with her in a café around the corner, talking about the old days, watching normal people walking by. This, after going over my parents’ butchering.
I’m a nutbar.