When Things Go Wrong

by Gunney

Disclaimer: Characters not mine. City not mine. But the story is.

Summary: Ezra has a nice little jaunt through the big apple, at like . . . eleven o’clock in the evening.

The night was dark and rainy. The flickering street light shining of the asphalt and bouncing off the walls of the brick buildings around it. The hiss of tires speeding through the intersection and the quiet patter of raindrops were the only sounds. Quiet. But not peaceful, or serene. It was a cold, uncomfortable night and no person in his or her right mind should have been out in it.

But when was the last time he was in his right mind. He shrugged at his own thoughts, and with the action buried deeper in the long, wool coat. This was not fun.

He hated waiting. Had hated it all his life.

But that’s what you did when you were a snitch. You waited. For information, for criminals, for the law, for death. Not that he wanted death. But he knew, as every snitch did, that death would come for him sooner or later and it would by no means be pleasant.

No, he’d be offed by the angry muzzle of some gunrunner’s angry .45mm without a second thought or wish. It was just the way things were.

Again he glanced down the road, watched a Pontiac Sunbird drive past, and drifted a few feet to lean against the light pole. Boring.

Boring like the drab buildings in front of him, with their flat rooftops, fading bricks and false fronts, left over from the dark-ages and boring. Not like the East Side. The East Side was beautiful, bright, sunlight reflecting off buildings. Everybody wore a suit as they sauntered down the streets in the mornings. And the women.

With their short business skirts and high heels. It was tourist country, but his interest was purely concentrated on the locals.

He loved the East Side. Loved meeting in the East Side. But here, in the West Side you could expect to be mugged. Whether physically or mentally by the drags of the educational society.

Of course he never claimed to be too terribly intelligent. But he knew he had some knowledge, otherwise he wouldn’t be here, waiting.

He checked his watch.

"11:42 . . . Where the bloody hell is he?"

As if on cue two cars turned onto the street. Unfortunately they were from opposite directions. He couldn’t run then, he was trapped. He watched them both, not understanding and suddenly frightened. He tensed inside the coat, his hand closing around the gun in his pocket, his head snapping from one car to the other.

The one to his left stopped first, four doors opening and burly types coming out of three of them. The fourth man he recognized but . . . he was not someone the snitch wanted to see. Not now. Not ever.

"Oh God . . . Mister Gray . . . Jesus," he stuttered. He could feel the slam of the bullet even now. He could see his life flashing before his eyes . . . So it wasn’t that dramatic but still.

"Carter, so good to see you. Come with me," Mister Gray said curtly, nodding to his bodyguards. Each took hold of Carter ‘guiding’ him to the car and shoving him in after Gray.

Carter was shaking, sweating and fidgeting as the doors were locked and he was cuffed to the passenger front seat. He cast a nervous glance to Mr. Gray, decked out in a suit and sunglasses. "I was j-just takin’ a walk, Mister Gray."

The smile was the type that could freeze over hell. "Of course you were, son."

That was it. He was dead.

"Oh God . . . "

* * *


Ezra sat in the other car, leaning forward as they carted the young man away from the meeting spot and into a typically fancy smancy car. Ezra looked over to the passenger seat of his rental, to the package and the picture on top. That was definitely Carter. The problem now was of course that someone else had gotten not only to but a hold of his one and only chance of bringing down the Lechner family drug ring, and were most likely about to do away with him. Ezra swore and hit the steering wheel in frustration. Jumping as he accidentally hit the horn on the scuffed Honda and surprise, surprise, drawing the baddie’s attention.

His emerald eyes went wide as the high beams of the Lincoln flashed on and his vehicle and face were illuminated. Again he swore, as this was a way to go about detective business. "So much for undercover . . ."

A hand holding a rather mean looking automatic snaking out of the criminal’s car drew his attention and as it also appeared well prepared to shoot the Honda full of holes he threw the car into reverse.

Screeching backwards and on to Third, he cranked the wheel hard around and chanced another glance down the alley. Bad mistake. The other car was already screaming towards him, nearly on top of him. All headlights and front grill. Ezra slammed his foot on the gas and screamed into traffic.

With the force of a speeding train hitting a herd of cows, there was impact. The back end of the Honda fish tailed, catching only a glancing blow from the Lincoln and shoving Ezra into the left lane of the two lane road. Right into the path of a city double-decker bus and the aging driver within.

The bus swerved off the road and onto the sidewalk, spilling a female’s passenger’s purple purse from the top deck. The purse landed on the windshield of the Honda and stayed there as Ezra sped through the intersection and onto a pothole strewn, brick road. The Lincoln u-turned and sped after him, the passengers within either frightened, mad or . . . crazy.

Down the second alley and onto the main street Ezra weaved his way through traffic and tried to figure . . . "Can’t go back to the Consulate." Left turn. "Hiding a bright blue Honda is near impossible." Right turn. "I don’t know the city well enough to out smart them." Stoplight . . . oh shit.

He sped around the front car and darted into the intersection, speeding in front of the Taxi about to cross and bottoming out on the sharp dip on the other side. Thus he saw his salvation. "Drive-in movie . . . these still exist?"

He pulled into the gravel lot and sped past the ticket booth, tossing dirt and rocks around as he sped through the filled lots. Going as deep into the massive parking lot as he could and parking amongst several rather blue-ish looking vehicles.

He shut off the engine and leaned over the seat to grab his gun, the one of the four that wasn’t holstered. Now all he had to do was wait. Of course it never occurred to him to call for back up, or perhaps ask one of the neighboring cars for a little assistance in hiding him.

He waited. Watching the parking attendants, smirking as the man in the booth sent two suited individuals in his direction. Right behind them . . . a nice lovely . . . Lincoln. The smirk disappeared. The porters were leading the miscreants right to him.

"Uh oh . . " He slid from the car, careful not to disturb the car beside him with his hasty escape. He was about to slip out when he remembered the files. He couldn’t possibly leave them . . . he hesitated for a second then reached in and grabbed them and the briefcase. Shoving them inside, he crouched down and started for the chain link fence not twenty feet away.

Chain link fences. Running from criminals. He shook his head. When was the last time he’d actually stepped back and realized the crud he’d been getting into? Keeping low and relatively silent, his movement graceful even in loafers and Armani, he skirted the remaining vehicles and slipped out of the parking lot. Not waiting to here the shouts or the screech of tires. Or the pop of a gun. He took off running down the road. It wasn’t long.

He darted into another alley, thinking quite frankly that he was tiring of them and noted the particularly accessible fire escape ladder. He glanced around at the repugnant trashcans; his eyes lighting on the drunk slumped against one. The idea came to mind and he wrinkled his nose in disgust of it . . . but then duty called. Didn’t it? What was his mother’s motto . . . ‘There is no excuse for un-gentlemanly behavior’?

"You, Mother," he muttered and made his mind up.

Twenty minutes later the Lincoln flashed its headlights down the alley. Mr. Gray leaned forward intrigued. This man had disappeared into thin air.

"What should we do boss?"

Mr. Gray restrained himself from clocking the imbecile over the head with his Sauer and pointed instead with the barrel.

"Get out, find him and bring him here."

The three bodyguards reacted to their superior’s anger quickly and shoved their doors open, slamming them shot and cocking various weapons in readiness. Crouching they started through the alley. Finding nothing. A naked drunk man, but nothing else. They glanced to each other in dismay.

Who knew what this news would do to them, much less what their boss would do to them? They reluctantly began to turn towards the Lincoln when it pulled out of the alley and onto the street. They again looked dumbly at one another until a voice at their feet spoke.

"You fella’s ain’t sh-een my clothes . . . . have ya?"

* * *

"What do you want with me?"

Ezra smiled from behind the speaker, his gun placed cozily behind Mr. Gray’s right ear. "Right now . . . only your silence and cooperation friend. Keep driving until you reach the pier and take your time." His voice was cool and under control despite the stink of the clothing he wore. He tried his best not to loose anything important as he turned to face the shaken Carter.

"None the worse for ware I assume," he noted and Carter nodded, trying to lift his hands, tugging on the chains of the cuffs.

"I’m sorry friend. I can trust you just about as well as Mr. Gray, right now. Can’t take any chances. Turn left here."

"Wh-who the h-hell are you?" Carter managed, swallowing several times around the lump in his stomach, which had since risen to his throat.

"That will all become apparent in time. Right now you needn’t worry yourself," Ezra answered quickly, staying forward in the seat and watching the passing street signs. "Turn right and stop the car."

The pier smelled just as bad as any other pier. The two fish houses either side were obvious and most likely proud of their rotting exteriors. They looked old enough to have survived both world wars. The whole thing creaked with each wave from the harbor and if you stood there long enough you might detect a slight sway.

Ezra’s stomach didn’t need any help.

"Out of the car if you don’t mind, Mr. Gray." He ordered, stepping out with the crime boss, matching his every move until he had him cuffed to the driver’s side mirror. Watching the well-dressed man carefully Ezra walked around the front of the car and to Carter’s side opening the door and reaching in to unlock one of the cuffs.

A fist sank into his stomach like a sledgehammer, knocking his breath away and bringing up the tiny dinner he’d had. Carter’s move was both stupid and costly. Finding Ezra’s dinner all over his front and a gun grinding against his skull seconds later. Carter groaned and started complain loudly, to which Ezra paid no mind and angrily re-cuffed the fool. He slammed the door shut, and leaned against the car exterior to gather himself. The sick taste in his mouth causing him to gag a couple more times before started to wipe his mouth off with a sleeve. Stopping as he recalled where the sweatshirt had come from and amended the move with Mr. Gray’s kerchief.

"Now, you will stay here. Be a good little criminal and do nothing unintelligent until noon tomorrow, understood?" Mr. Gray simply stared back. Ezra could care less. "Good." The undercover agent then turned back to the car and the informant still struggling inside.

"You are coming with me."

* * *

Twenty minutes later, on Miss Consternation, headed through the harbor Ezra was finally getting answers.

The informant had taken about as long to get himself cleaned up, and was still complaining about the ill treatment when Ezra told him that he was Carter’s connection.

That got little reaction at first and Ezra felt like clocking the man over the head, but realization soon sunk in and Ezra allowed himself to relax a bit.

He sat back on the deck chair over looking the waters and reholstered the gun. He put his head in his hands and sighed, feeling tired and suddenly not caring that it showed. He’d been undercover and alone for far too long to give a damn.

"Hell, I figured you was one of them Lechners. Scared the hell outta me really."

"And as I find that extremely interesting and most enticing, might I inquire what you’ve found out. You may or may not have noticed but we are currently enjoying the pleasures of a stolen yacht, it’s approximately twelve o’clock AM and I am not in the best of moods."

Carter eyed the southerner for a good long time. It might have been interpreted as a searching gaze, but in truth he was only trying to figure out what the man had been spouting about.

"Anyway . . . I got all the information and evidence yer gonna need right here." And he pulled forth the file folder, labeled ‘Blackberry’, and containing twenty logs, two pictures and a roll of film. He handed it over and sat back on the other deck chair, grinning smugly.

Ezra avoided making any smart comments, mostly because they wouldn’t be appreciated in present companies and took the folder, running through its contents. To say the least he was impressed, and Carter’s analyses had been true. This was all he needed to put them away.

"Thank you, Agent. For your contribution. Now leave the folder there on the chair and step back please."

Ezra swore hearing the voice, Not seeing the owner because that person was behind him. He knew instinctively there’d be a gun at his back but he started to stand when he realized that Carter was also staring at the person and starting to stand.

"What the . . ." Carter started then was blown back and apart with the report of two well placed shots. His body fell back against several deck chairs, flinging them to the sides and sending something crashing into the water below.

Ezra whipped around. Apparently another dumb move because even though his hands were visible, Lechner reacted. Pulling the trigger twice before she stepped from the doorway and onto the deck. Each move like that of a stalking lioness, the stout highheels and flowing silk gown doing nothing but good for her form.

The bullet ripped into his shoulder and slammed his body back just as it had Carter’s. White-hot pain visited him in a most unsavory manner and he blacked out for a moment. Opening his eyes again he found himself flat on the deck, something . . . or someone straddling his middle and jabbing a hot into his shoulder. Gratefully it wasn’t a , he heel of the woman’s shoe was no different.

Ezra gagged a couple of times trying to see, feeling her manicu grab his chin, his face turned towards hers.

"You intrigue me, Mister Standish," she said as though examining a historical specimen. "You are a most handsome man. Strong, well trained, bold." She ran her hand along his face, then moved the heel of her shoe a little, smiling almost gently his he paled again. "Very strong." He hadn’t yet made a sound, and didn’t appear to be planning to do so. "I wish I could change your mind."

Ezra glared, trying not to scream with the bolts of lightning scorching through his entire body. He couldn’t feel the blood running down across his chest and soaking through the disgusting shirt he was in, but his temper and the pain were both rising in amazing proportions. "Just do it . . . "

"Oh, do you wear Nike’s? Frankly I hadn’t noticed." She said innocently as she cocked the gun and stood and backed off a step. She leveled the barrel at the agent's head and smiled sadly. "Just think of what our children would have looked like?"

Ezra raised his head of the floor to look at her. It was almost comical. Not that he was about to die after tracing this person through the streets of New York for over a month and a half. And certainly not that he was in extreme pain and had gotten absolutely nothing for his effort. It was comical that as he was about to die, instead of seeing his life pass before his eyes, or wishing and regretting. He was watching a helicopter make it’s way across the sky and marveling not only on how close it was, but that he could have almost sworn he’d seen Larabee in there.

It didn’t even occur to him that the crazy woman standing over him was brandishing a gun, or that she was changing the aim of the barrel from his head to his leg. Nor that she was about to pull the trigger when a light from above blasted her face and a slug buried itself in her shoulder.

All he noticed was the pain in his shoulder, that had amazingly begun to die and the face of Chris Larabee pressed against the glass of the side door. And how incredibly hog-like Chris looked that way.

* * *

Chris swore heavily and again screamed at the pilot for them to take it down. Take it down. There wasn’t time. And judging from the amount of blood pooling beneath his agent, they could’ve already been too late. Nathan was behind him, frantically putting together some scant supplies from the helo’s first aid kit and asking if that was Ezra. Buck only wanted to know what the hell he was wearing and why.

The trip to the hospital was a harried one, with Nathan trying to keep Ezra still and stable. Between the laughing the silence Nathan didn’t know what to expect from the undercover agent or his body, and wasn’t anxious to find out either. What seemed like an eternity passed and every two seconds Ezra asked where he was.

"A helicopter, Ez. Now hush up and let me do my job."

Ezra would then push Nathan’s hands away and try to sit up, which of course upset the compresses. Nathan would push him back down, mostly likely causing the man extreme pain, as he had also managed to break his collarbone. And Ezra would remain silent until.

"Where are we, Nathan?"

Finally they landed and carted off the wounded Agent, while across town the boat was confiscated, Mr. Gray and his smuggled Lincoln were taken in and Carter was given a respectful burial at sea.

Now the only question to be answered was how had Ezra managed to get halfway to the Statue of Liberty when he had started out on Fifth Street, Manhattan, New York?

Comments to: clechner@columbus.rr.com