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SPECIAL thanks to Danielle :-) for editing and her encouragement. You're the best!
AND a very special thanks to Greg Blufton for coming up with the title for this story. It's much better then the one I had originally.
End Of The Pursuit
Turning off the 134 freeway, I drive slowly past vendors hawking flowers from the side of the road until I reach a sign which says.
"Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood, California."
Looking at the large cemetery with pine trees, spreading it's way up the side of the hill, it seems so serene, so peaceful. A fitting place for Jarod's final resting spot. Pulling up to the white information booth in front, I roll down the window of my rental car and ask for direction.
"I'm looking for....the name of my friend is, was Jarod. Where can I find him?" I glance over at the yellow roses lying on the passenger seat.
"Jarod? Is that the first or last name?" The woman asks.
"No last name, only Jarod." I reply. In death as in life he still is only Jarod. It takes a few minutes before she returns and hands me a map of the park with a route drawn in ink to his permanent home. No chasing today, no taunts, I know exactly where to find him.
Slowly I pull the rental into the flow of cars headed through the black iron gates and enter. There's a church on one side and a large expanse of green grass on the other that covers the hillside, interrupted with ribbons of asphalt roads. The place is filled with people, a Sunday ritual for most. There are even stop signs at the intersections. A minivan rides my bumper and honks impatiently as I stop briefly. My God, don't they realize the person they are going to visit is dead? Do they think they will get there and find a note saying, "Sorry, I missed you."?
As I turn and wind my way up the hillside, I reflect back on this day. It's been one year since my last confrontation with Jarod. The one that cost him his life. We had deciphered the clues he left at his last lair and caught up with him before he had planned. The remote cabin in the mountains which made an ideal hide out for him also proved to be an advantage for us. Lyle and a sweeper team approached from the back, Sam and I took the front. Sydney and Broots were to stay in the car. As Jarod ran out the front of the cabin, I remember yelling at him, telling him to stop. He keep going even after I fired a shot in the air. As I fired a shot into the ground next to him, he turned to face me. Telling me he knew I wouldn't shoot him, it wasn't in my eyes...or my heart.
Sydney came from God knows where, placing himself between us as Jarod climbed in the jeep. As he gunned the engine I pushed Sydney aside and aimed straight for Jarod. I pulled the trigger not once but several times. The windshield of the jeep shattered, the look of surprise that crossed his face turned to horror as his hand reached for his chest. Bright red blood seeped through his fingers and yet he kept going.
"What have you done Miss Parker?" Sydney cried and my cold answer.
Lyle looked at me with amazement and surprise. "I didn't think you had it in you." He said.
Broots sat silently in the car. A sweeper team was sent out to locate Jarod. From the look of his wounds he wouldn't get far. It took five weeks before the burned out vehicle and Jarod's remains were found by hikers. The police theorized the jeep had plunged off the road, down the side of the steep mountain, caught fire and burned. The Centre had the remains flown back for DNA testing as well as dental comparisons. Even in death they still expected him to escape. The DSA's and silver haliburton case were found in the cabin, a prize themselves. Loose ends tied up neatly with Lyle taking most of the credit.
As I make my way slowly up the hillside, I reflect now on the present. Jarod's death did not free me. Instead it tied me even more strongly to the Centre. My verbal contract with Daddy and Raines to return Jarod to Centre in exchange for my freedom was null and void. Without them present I had no witnesses to our pact. And tho' Mutumbo wasn't pleased with Jarod's death, he wasn't unhappy either. I was re-assigned to look for his clone.
I pull next to a curb marked "Peaceful", park and open the car door. Reaching over I pick up the flowers and step out. Looking at the map once more while stepping onto the grass, my black heels sink into the soft turf. Walking down the rows, checking the markers, I finally find the gravesite.Bending down I gently brush away the pine needles with my fingertips, exposing the simple inscription on the head stone,
"Jarod. Beloved son and friend."
No date of birth, only the date of death. Sydney had lobbied hard for Jarod's remains and interning him here instead of Blue Cove was as Sydney said, "Fitting." He felt it was as far away from the Centre as he could get him.
I carefully brush the remaining debris from the head stone and place the flowers on the grave. I have nothing to say so I stand silently for a moment before turning to leave. Looking around I can see why Sydney wanted him here. It's beautiful and at last he is free. No more running.
I reach the car, slip in and start it, exhaling the breath I've held since entering the cemetary. As I leave, I remember the day of the internment. Broots standing sheepishly, Sydney's anger at Lyle's and my presence and the dark figure that watched from afar.
As I draw close to the exit, my cell phone rings and I flip it open. "What?" My voice subdued.
"Yellow roses...he would have liked those." A man's voice answers.
"How would you know?" I ask.
"I'm his brother, I can hear his voice inside me. Did you leave it?"
"Of course I did." My voice quiet and suppressed. "We have a deal. So far I've lived up to my end."
"Do you ever feel remorse Miss Parker?"
"Don't play Sydney with me." I snap back. I didn't feel remorse a year ago and I sure as hell don't feel it now.
"Speaking of Sydney, how is he?"
"Older, tired. These days he stays at the Centre where he says he feels close to Jarod. He has never forgiven me for killing his lab rat. Broots checks on him daily."
"Ah, Mr. Broots..."
"He's too good at his job." I interrupt quietly. "He almost caught us the last time I sent you information. I think he suspects."
"Keep him in the dark a little longer. Telling him the truth could put everything in jeopardy. All it would take is for someone to threaten Debbie."
"Don't you think I know that?" I answer. As I approach the gate, I pause before asking. "We planned your death well, didn't we Jarod?"
"Yes. Yes, we did Miss Parker. And soon it will pay off." I can hear the smile in his voice and the click of his phone. He ends the conversation as usual and I know Jarod is picking up the information I left with the flowers. The information that will bring down the Centre like a house of cards, collapsing from within.
The months of planning, exhuming Kyle's body so it could be planted in the wreckage, switching dental and DNA records, the shooting, all perfectly simmed and calculated.
"Yes Jarod, we did plan your death well." And I smile as I pass through the black gates.