This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.
A little while after Agent Greenwood pulls away, Felix wanders back down the hallway. “Is she the woman on TV with the FBI badge? Because she sounds like the woman on TV with the FBI badge.”
“If not,” John says, “she’s a very good impersonator.”
“But, to fill you in,” John continues, “you need help, and apparently things will go better if you turn yourself in.”
“Okay, thanks. I’m seriously considering it.”
As they’re talking, they notice that there seem to be a number of people hanging around the house: one man is sitting on a nearby bench reading a newspaper; a second, young-looking guy in a hoodie is just loitering around; a third man is yelling into his cellphone. None of it is overtly unusual, but John’s is typically a quiet neighbourhood, and they all seem a little too perfectly inconspicuous.
“I think I’m going to not be by the window for a while,” Felix says, suiting his own words and shuffling backwards. “Sorry, I might not be leaving for a while. Can’t walk Duke.”
“That’s alright, he gets your share,” John says. “Isn’t that right, Duke?”
“What do we do, though?” Shannon asks.
“I can run support!” Felix says with an enthusiasm that suggests he’s trying to convince himself it’s a good idea. “From here! I can tell you about vampires and–”
“Or,” John interrupts, “when I leave, they send someone over with a lockpick to open the door and find you here.”
Shannon raises her eyebrows. “So are you suggesting that as an alternative, or are you saying that we should all just wait until they go away, or what?”
“Or we have to get Felix out of the house in plain sight.” Turning to Felix, he adds brightly, “which is good, because you’re small, and I have a big suitcase.”
“You don’t think they’ll notice the suitcase?” Shannon says.
“There is that,” John admits.
The group debates stuffing Felix into one of Duke’s old dog crates instead, but that seems even less likely to escape the notice of the Feds, since they’d only wonder why he needed to move the dog around in a crate. John points out that he was going to see his grandmother this morning anyway, and suggests that he could bring Duke with him, pretending not to know that Duke would be turned away at the door. It still seems dicey, though, especially since there’s the possibility that Duke might bark from the house and alert the Feds that there’s something else in the crate.
John seems to reach out a decision. He hands Shannon a spare key and starts packing the previously-mentioned suitcase.
“So… what are we doing?” Shannon asks.
“I’m going to take this suitcase and leave,” John says. “And hope that after a while you follow me.”
“They’re not all going to follow you,” Shannon points out.
“It’ll increase your chances, I hope.”
“It’s not a bad idea,” Felix agrees. “Thanks. Talk to you… soon.”
“You have my number,” John says. “Good luck.”
When John leaves the house with the suitcase, a pair of the loitering individuals approach him. Pretending he doesn’t see them, John gets into the van; they start to hurry when he starts the engine. Still pretending not to notice, John calmly backs out of the driveway, at which point one of the men finally shouts at him. “Hey, hey! Hold up there!”
John rolls down the window. “What’s wrong?”
The man flashes a badge. “Officer Paul Kennedy, police.”
“I have an appointment to make, Mr.–Kennedy?”
“Officer Kennedy,” John repeats. “Can we do this some other time?”
“Now’s the best time. You’re a person of interest in an investigation.”
John sighs. “I have to be present for my grandmother’s transfer. Can I go?”
“I’m afraid you can’t,” Kennedy says. “Step out of the vehicle.”
“All right.” John pulls the van over to the side of the road, steps out, and waits.
“Can we search your vehicle, sir?”
“In all honesty, the thing’s used,” John says. “You might find something in there I don’t know about.”
“That’s all right,” Kennedy says. “We’re looking for a very specific… item of interest.” John notes that a few of the other supposedly-loitering individuals have found some reason to wander closer while Kennedy talks. “You had a suitcase with you. Could you just open it up, sir?”
John doesn’t bother to hide his exasperation. “Sure.”
Felix, watching from inside the house, murmurs to Shannon, “that was a good call.”
She nods, and the two of them take the opportunity to slip out the back door. From John’s backyard, they make it into a lightly wooded area and to a nearby park without incident.
John, meanwhile, has obligingly opened up the suitcase to reveal his grandmother’s clothing and personal effects, which is clearly not what the officers were looking for. “Sorry to have inconvenienced you, sir. Have yourself a pleasant day.”
“Yeah, you too,” John says. “I hope your bus finally arrives.” And then, before the officer can retort, he gets back in the van and drives away.