[Edge1.1.5] Change Of Heart
Art had no idea what Johnny was talking about and didn’t know what to say to that. So, they rode in silence for a bit.
“So, what does my company have to do with all of this?” he finally asked. “Is my boss and the board of directors involved in this. I suppose I’m the dumb peon they sent off to be the scapegoat and get left holding the bag if something goes wrong when everything is said and done.”
Johnny smiled at him. “No, Art. There is something very special about you. You were chosen for a reason, but not by me. Someone much higher up that sees the bigger picture. I’m the peon that got sent to bring you into the fold.”
Art let that sink in for a moment. He glanced back at the car that was tailing them.
“What gave you such a sudden change of heart then?” he asked. “What did you find out?”
Johnny scowled at him.
“Give it a rest, Art!” he growled menacingly. “Right now, this is all on me. You still have a choice. I don’t. The only thing I can do is play my cards the best I know how and wait to see how things turn out. But trust me when I say that the less you know, the better. If I tell you something, then it’s all on you, and you won’t have a choice in the matter. Just wait until tomorrow and hear them out. After that, you can make your own decision.”
Art crossed his arms and pouted. The suspense was killing him. He had always hated waiting for things. One of his colleagues knew it and loved to irritate him with it. She sent him a message telling him that she had something really important to say to him that could only be in person. He finally caught on that she was doing it purposely. So, she told everyone at the office, and they all started doing it just to mess with his head. He learned to blow it off after a while, but it still bugged him to no end. Art could feel that this was going to be a long night. He would probably lay awake all night mulling it over and wondering what it could be.
“Something’s up,” Johnny said.
Art sat up and looked behind them, but the car that had been following them was no longer there.
“It’s here beside us,” Johnny said and motioned with his head.
The black SUV was pulling up alongside them two lanes over. There was very little traffic on the highway. It was late, and almost everyone was probably home sleeping on a Thursday night. Art looked at the clock on the dash. The numbers glowed 11:45 and a soft blue hue that blended in with the other lights on the dashboard and reflected off the interior of the car.
Johnny had sped up, but the other car continued to keep up with them. They were slowly pulling ahead of him. Art tried to peer through the windows, but the glass was tinted. All he could see was their reflection.
“Guess we’re too boring. They’ve given up and decided to head home for the night.” Art said.
Johnny shook his head. “Nah! They’re up to something. These guys have been at this now for too long.”
“Why don’t you call 911?” Art asked. “Everyone in America calls 911 when they are having an emergency.”
The burly man chuckled from the other side of the car. “You actually have to be in an emergency to call 911. What are we gonna tell the operator?”
Art didn’t reply, so Johnny continued.
“Hello. Yes. I’d like to report another car that’s driving along beside me a couple of lanes over. Could you please dispatch a police cruiser to pull them over so we can find out who they are, and an ambulance just in case they try to harm us. Sheesh, Art. You’ve been watching too many movies, man! Get a life.”
Art grinned at the thought. “Yeah, it does sound kind of funny when you put it like that,” he said.
“You know. You’re all right, Art.” Johnny said. “I was really upset when Tony sent me down to Brazil to look you up. I thought it was going to be a wild goose chase that wouldn’t amount to much. But you surprised me.”
Art beamed. “Thanks, I never did get much recognition from anyone at my company. So, it’s nice to hear you say that.”
“You know, after I left Brazil, going back was the last thing I wanted to do,” Johnny said. “I was fed up with the corruption and the bureaucracy. But when I found you, I was really pleased. You remind me a lot of myself. Well, the way I used to be before I got caught up in all this mess. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the way things used to be.”
“How’s that?” Art asked. He kept his eye on the car still following along beside them.
“Ah! I don’t know how to describe it exactly.” Johnny replied. “It’s hard to express and put it into words. I guess things were simpler then. Choices were easier then. Well, I could still make my own choices. Now, I don’t get to make them anymore.”
“Do what we say, or else we’ll kill your wife,” Art murmured.
Johnny nodded. “Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a good life. A very good life to put it mildly. I’ve done things I never dreamed of growing up. But it all came a cost. I knew it when I joined. So, I’m not complaining.”
“That’s what you’re trying to warn me about,” Art asked again.
“Sheesh, Art! Stop fishing for answers to questions you don’t want to be asking. The less you know, the better. And I really don’t know all the details, but I do know they have a very specific plan for you personally. And I like you. You’re a good guy just like I used to be. I don’t want to see you get hurt or have to make the decisions that I’m having to make now.”
Art sighed and threw his head back against the car seat. “It sure would help to know what you are talking about.”
He looked over at Johnny who just grinned back at him. That cheeky boyish grin Art just wanted to punch.
“How did your wife die? Somebody shoot her?” Art asked.
Johnny frowned and looked back at the road. “Elliot said they were told to process it as a heart attack.”
“What do you mean they were told?” Art asked. “Aren’t the police investigating this thing. Don’t you want to know how she died? What they did to her?”
He glanced at the black SUV still driving along beside them and then back at Johnny. The man took a deep breath and cleared his throat.
“I told you that the police are involved. Nobody is going to investigate it. They told me that it was painless and she didn’t feel a thing when they called me back at the office. That’s all I want to know.”
“Seriously? That’s all you want to know?” Art demanded. “Are you kidding me. What kind of sick people are you dealing with?”
Johnny shrugged. “You take the deal, this is the kind of people you’ll be getting involved with.”
“Fine,” he said in exasperation. “I’ll hear what they have to say, turn them down, and then fly back to my little run-down apartment in Brazil. Does that make you happy?”
Johnny didn’t say anything.
“I say we find out who did this, and we take them down. Show them who they’re messing with. Bunch of gringoes think they can push us around.”
He chuckled wryly and looked at Johnny. There was a bad curve, so Johnny kept his eyes on the road.
“If only it were that easy,” Johnny muttered under his breath.
Art was still looking at Johnny when he noticed the car beside them jerk away from them and then back in their direction. At first, he thought it was because of the curve. Maybe they had overcorrected. But they didn’t stop when they reached the middle lane. They kept right on coming.
“Look out, Johnny! The truck!” Art shouted and pointed at the truck.