Red Flag Part 2
Commissioner Dale Caulfield sat deeply engrossed in his laptop in his office in the ORP’s small wing for program D.28;
Protection Program when the knock came at the door. He called out “Come in!”
without looking up. It was Nina. Ontario
She quietly filed in and sat down, knowing better than to interrupt the commissioner when he was concentrating. The wait was short as he leaned forward and pushed the laptop between them, turning it so she could see the screen.
“We have a bit more of a history with Corran than I’d like.”
Nina began to read a list of names he had open in a database. She blinked at it in surprise and then her gaze snapped to the commissioner “Five? Are they all still living there?”
Dale shook his head “No, they’re not even all still alive.” He held up a hand to anticipate her next question “We didn’t lose any by our own errors. One died in his sleep of old age ten years ago. He was the first in the program to be relocated there. Irwin Thomas. I believe his granddaughter still lives in the area. She doesn’t know of course as Thomas wasn’t the original family name. He was born Irwin Sampson in the Republic of Haiti, tried to leave a life of drug trafficking there, only to have it follow him here.”
Nina nodded and then listened attentively as he continued.
“Number two was Annie Richardson, formerly Anne Louise Walker. She was an unwilling accomplice in a series of homicides in the 1980s. She survived that horror, and the trial and the relocation, only to die in a freak car crash a month after the killer’s incarceration began.”
Nina winced “That’s so horrible….”
“It was a tragic irony…or twist of fate for Annie. Number three was Colin Lambert, and like your Amber, he was in protection for cooperation in a trial relating to the crimes of a motorcycle gang. Colin sadly wasn’t a fit and couldn’t keep his new location a secret. We had never changed his identity but he went back home when he heard about a funeral of a friend and his former gang buddies shot him on sight”
Nina closed her eyes and her head hung “I really hope we don’t have a repeat of that pattern.”
“Me too.” He gestured back at the screen. “The last two were a mother and daughter pair. They were a transfer from the States. We took a fair few of theirs in the 1970s and 80s related to a crack down on New York Mafia activity. The mother has passed away, but the daughter still lives there. She was actually the one we were protecting.”
At this Nina straightened up and tuned in, looking critically at the screen “Stella Hardy?”
Dale gave one short nod and began to explain.
“Stella was born Estella Maria Francesca Potenza in
Brooklyn. . She was the illegitimate child of the famous
mafia boss Constantino Paul "Big Paul" Castellano and Maria Potenza.
Maria was Castellano’s housekeeper. He was shot in 1985 by John Gotti, another
mob boss. Stella was hiding in the closet in her father’s office, but she saw
the whole thing. Her testimony was key but it seemed there was no place to hide
after so the Witness Security Program run by the US Feds sent them here. And we
settled them in Corran. Stella voluntarily left our program after her mother
died. She feels it’s been long enough as her new identity that she’s no longer
in danger. She’s made a life for herself, owns a business even…some kind of
coffee shop I think it was.” New
Nina had been looking pained and then brightened “It’s a tea shop. I’ve been in there. I’ve met her and she’s delightful. I’m so sorry to hear about her childhood though.” She began to rationalize “OK, so she’s left the program and the former clients are no longer with us. Can we not keep this plan for Amber then? By the way, she’s chosen a new name and I’ve started the paperwork so you’ll need to update your files.”
Dale turned the screen back around and leaned into his hand with his elbow on the desk while he scrolled on the built in mouse “We can…” he offered hesitantly. “We just have to be careful. I don’t want any place getting a reputation that puts a community of innocent people at risk.”
“I absolutely agree. I will say though, Corran seems the perfect place to disappear.”
Dale chuckled “Maybe I’ll take my next holiday over there then. Nice and quiet on a good day. Today though, after you left, they closed off the other side of that highway due to a shooting. Uniforms are on it.”
Nina’s eyes went wide “Jesus….that’s surprising in a place like that.” She exhaled and changed the subject “How was your holiday at your brother’s anyhow?”
“Not quiet. But good. Ian knows everyone in that town, and he has to chat with them all every day. Takes hours to get a block from home. It’s a good life for him and Jean though. The kids are grown and moved away. I think they’ve got a bit of empty nest syndrome going on. Caught lots of fish. Even brought some haddock back for my freezer.”
“Oooh I love haddock. Will you share?” She teased.
Dale smiled at her almost shyly “Well you’d have to come over so I could cook it right for you…”
Nina eyed him “Are you offering me a home cooked meal then?”
“Will it make up for pairing you with Lysenko? I know you’re still pissed about that. I am sorry…there was no other way to do it.”
Nina laughed “It depends how good your cooking is Dale. I am surviving him. Do you know I caught him singing John Denver today? He actually sounded pretty good but then he pretended it never happened.”
Dale cracked up “Martin Lysenko is full of hidden talents I’m sure. We should call him in so he’s not sitting out there all day. Especially with the traffic delays and the highway being blocked off. If Fleetwood’s finished closing, then he doesn’t need to stay.”
Nina pulled out her phone “Damn, that’s a lot going on for Corran.Want me to text him now? He was planning to rely on his leftover coffee cup for bodily functions so I best catch him before he spills in the car.”
Dale rubbed at his right eye and muttered “Dear god….” with a breathy chuckle.
Nina tapped away at her phone screen and then waited as a reply came back “He’s on his way.” She looked up as Dale also did from rubbing his eye and their eyes locked for a moment. There was an awkward silence after and finally Dale fumbled back at his laptop.
“What name is Amber Price changing to?” He asked as if reaching for something safe and tangible.
Nina cleared her throat and re-crossed her legs, smoothing her skirt self consciously “Oh uh…Chloe, Chloe Tremblay.”