Book Excerpt – The Fund


The Fund
by Kevin P. Chavous

    Publication Date: May 15, 2019
    List Price: $8.99
    Format: Paperback, 302 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781092275828
    Imprint: Independently Published
    Publisher: Independently Published
    Parent Company: Independently Published

    Read a Description of The Fund


    Copyright © 2019 Independently Published/Kevin P. Chavous No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.

    Chapter 1


    𝒥ackson Lowery was in trouble. The man was coming at him again. Jackson was much taller, but the shorter man was stronger. They both had exchanged blows, but Jackson was increasingly on the losing end of each exchange. Jackson started bouncing on his toes. Boxing psychology told him to appear strong, even though he was feeling dizzy and weak. His sparring partner, Stubby Johnson, was in stalker mode. He smelled blood. Stubby lived up to his name. Just a shade over 5’7”, with jet black skin, he was squat and mean. He resembled Don Cheadle - with about a hundred pounds added.

    Stubby pounded his gloves together and marched forward, less cautious than when the round started. Jackson was trying to get his feet right. Boxing has been called the sweet science, largely because footwork and positioning is just as important as a strong left hook. Jackson knew that when Stubby got confident, he would start to swing wildly and lose track of his balance. Jackson was hoping he could stay anchored with his left foot in the front and his weight slightly back on his right foot as the predictable Stubby lunged forward with the expected overhead right. Jackson planned on leaning back just as Stubby’s right hand came toward him, then explode forward with a right cross on Stubby’s jaw.

    Jackson had played this scene out many times in his head when he agreed to spar with Stubby. He knew that Stubby tended to raise up slightly on both feet when throwing big punches, leaving himself totally unbalanced. Jackson figured if he could avoid Stubby’s punch and then hit him hard enough on the jaw, it would strike a blow to Stubby’s confidence and give Jackson the time he needed to clear his head. As predicted, Stubby approached Jackson telegraphing the expected over hand right.

    However, as Jackson prepared to duck out of the way of Stubby’s overhead right, Stubby unpredictably faked the hard right and instead threw a nasty left uppercut to Jackson’s chin. The punch sent Jackson straight to the canvas, flat on his back. Jake Daniel, Jackson’s boxing coach, immediately stopped the sparring session.

    So much for advance planning.

    Five minutes later, Jackson woke up hearing the voice of his friend and business partner, Ronnie Thomas.

    “Get up, Jack! Wake up, buddy!”

    Jake Daniel was just behind Ronnie, with a worried look on his face. Ronnie looked calm as a cucumber.

    “Jack, you ok? Time to get up,” Ronnie was saying.

    Jackson felt his head clear up. “Yeah, I am ok,” he said. “Where is Stubby?”

    “I’m over here, Jackson,” said Stubby Johnson, who was leaning forward with his hands on his knees, just beside Jake.

    “Sorry, man, but I figured you were waiting for my right hand.” Stubby had both a guilty and pleased look on his face.

    “It’s alright, man. Lesson learned,” Jackson said.

    With that, Ronnie and Jake helped Jackson to his feet. Wobbly at first, he was getting his bearings as he navigated his way out of the boxing ring.

    Despite feeling woozy, Jackson had no regrets. Ever since he, Ronnie, Jenny Roberts and Joe Sweeney started their own company, Jackson knew that he had to do more than keep himself in top physical shape. He had to develop the necessary fighting and survival skills that would keep him alive. The nature of their work demanded such. Lowery Consulting Group (LCG) was a legally licensed corporation with ongoing government contracts.

    Their primary client was Pegasus Partners, a shell corporation funded by the government, specifically the C.I.A. That agency had a little-known venture capital fund that they use to support “friendly” startup businesses. LCG does not work for the C.I.A. It solely works at the direction of the F.B.I. The best way to keep their F.B.I. work secret, however, was to get funding from another clandestine source. There was no better such source than the Central Intelligence Agency.

    On paper, Pegasus pays LCG a substantial monthly retainer for government contract consulting. The nature of that contract work, however, was not related to typical business or 9-5 office tasks. Everything LCG or as Jenny liked to say, “Team Jackson,” did for the government was clandestine and covert. Those things that the government - even the F.B.I. - could not do. In fact, LCG only went to work when the F.B.I. called. Which was rare. In the meantime, Jackson and his colleagues stayed in shape, tried to live normal lives and remained close to their phones. Calls from their contracting officer could come anytime day or night.

    Jackson slowly found his way to the gym’s locker room with Ronnie by his side. Just before opening the locker room door, he looked back at the boxing ring and Jake Daniel was back in the ring refereeing another sparring match. Stubby Johnson was standing next to the ring giving high fives to a couple of the regular gym onlookers. Though his head was ringing, Jackson felt his face get flush. That visual of Stubby celebrating his punch made Jackson mad. Reading him like a book,

    Ronnie squeezed Jackson’s shoulder, smiled and said, “That’s it, Jack. Be pissed off and learn from it. Six months ago, you would not have had that reaction. I am going to make a killer out of you yet?”

    Jackson arched an eyebrow and shook his head as he stripped and went into the old, dingy shower. Under the steam of hot water and still gathering his wits, Jackson was mulling over Ronnie’s words. Jackson was thinking about that shadow self, the dark side we all have. For years, as a high-flying prosecutor, then law professor, Jackson never acknowledged his own dark side. The previous year and a half changed all that. Being falsely accused of murder by white supremacists, then on the run for his life, led Jackson to see the side of him he never knew existed. Now, he embraced his shadow self. Possibly too much. His new work, training and outlook on life have all created a new edge in Jackson. An edge he had embarrassingly grown to like.

    After getting dressed, Jackson walked out of the locker room, walked past the boxing ring and grudgingly waved at Stubby, who returned the greeting. Jake Daniel trotted over to Jackson as he was headed out the door. “You’ll get ‘em next time, Jackson. I see you thinking in the ring. That’s a good thing. But always remember that e’rybody in the ring is thinkin too.”

    Jackson laughed. “I get it, Jake. Like Mike Tyson said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ I’ll be back. Thanks for helping me out.”

    Jackson had been introduced to Jake by Ronnie. Even though Jackson was not a natural born killer, he did have some boxing skills, thanks to his father’s teachings when he was a boy. Understanding the nature of their work, Ronnie told Jackson that he should play to his strengths. Jackson had been training with Jake Daniel for three months at the legendary Daniel Boxing Gym just off Bladensburg Road in Washington, D.C. The Ivy City neighborhood where the gym is located is one of D.C.’s many gentrified communities. Jake had confided to both Jackson and Ronnie that he did not think he could last another five years at his current location. Even though he owned the building, it was increasingly difficult for him to pay the taxes.

    While Jackson was getting dressed, Ronnie had gone to retrieve his brand new, bullet-proof black Ford F-150 Raptor truck, so he could pick up Jackson right in front of Jake’s gym entrance. Jackson threw his duffel bag in the back seat and climbed in.

    “Our contracting officer is trying to reach you,” Ronnie said. “He says he has been trying to call you for a couple of hours. I told him that you were knocked out cold in the boxing ring. He didn’t seem a bit surprised.” Ronnie began snickering.

    Jackson was knowingly smiling as well.

    LCG’s contracting officer was none other than F.B.I. Director Ed Harrington. Years ago, Harrington was Jackson’s boss when they both prosecuted crimes in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office. Their relationship was rocky for several years until Team Jackson helped foil a well-orchestrated plot to kill scores of black and brown kids. The plot was now commonly known as the Plan and it was organized by white supremacists.

    “Why didn’t Ed just send someone over to the gym? It would have been much easier,” Jackson said, still smiling. Both he and Ronnie knew that the F.B.I. regularly monitored their location by way of mobile tracking devices. They also knew that young Joe Sweeney, their computer whiz LCG colleague occasionally uses his skills to scramble the tracking when the team wants to move around freely. That knowledge was the main reason that they were smiling.

    “True,” Ronnie said. “Just give him a call. You can talk to him while I take us to get something to eat. I was going to go to Ivy City Smokehouse, since it is so close,” referring to a hip seafood tavern used by long time locals and gentrifiers alike. “But since you got yourself knocked out in the ring today, I figured we could go to NuVegan. Your food.”

    Jackson shook his head while dialing Harrington’s number.

    “Appreciate that, Ronnie,” he said, just as Harrington picked up the phone on the first ring. Without saying hello, Harrington launched right into business.

    “Ronnie told me you got knocked around a bit today. Hope you are ok. Get your team together. You have work to do,” Harrington said.

    “Ok, Ed. What’s going on? Can you give me some idea what’s happening?”

    Harrington was short with his reply. “Someone is killing and snatching homeless people all over. Confirmed disappearances are taking place in New York, Chicago and Philly. I am guessing there are more. Meet me at the usual spot in exactly three hours. We need you to do what you do.”

    Chapter 12


    𝒥ackson had seen the black van on Avondale, traveling without lights at about the same time he heard Ronnie’s S.O.S. warning come through his earpiece. He was still leaning back against the column, partially shielded by the attached chain linked fence. As he was about to rise from his position, he heard a funny sounding buzz, then saw sparks coming from the fence. At the same time, he heard gunfire. He looked in the direction of the shots and caught a glimpse of Ronnie firing away at the black van. Jackson jumped up and saw two men on the other side of the fence, less than 10 feet from him. One man was trying to climb over the fence, while the other man was trying to pull a rugged looking rope or string from around the fence.

    The man at the end of the rope looked a little wobbly. It took a moment for it to register, but Jackson understood that the rope was actually a taser line. The man had tried to taser him, missed and got the device tangled on the chain link fence. From the looks of it, he also may have electrocuted himself.

    Here, Jackson made a decision that confirmed his career change from prosecutor to law professor to covert operator. He pulled out his gun and tried to kill a man. Without any hesitation. Jackson shot the man who was trying to climb over the fence, hitting him in the chest just as he finished his climb. The man fell back onto the fence and slumped into a sitting pose with his arms extended to his side. Jackson felt no remorse.

    He immediately focused his attention on taser man, who was clearly struggling to gain his wits. Jackson put the gun in his parka, climbed over the fence, made a fist and hit taser man with the right cross he had wanted to give to Stubby Johnson a few days earlier. Taser man fell backwards, hit his head on the concrete and did not move. Blood started to run on the concrete from the back of the man’s head. Jackson removed his gun from his pocket and ran around to the end of the column-laced fence, turned left on Belmont and raced toward where he had seen Ronnie unloading his weapon.

    As he got within 100 feet, he saw a giant of a man straining to get into the passenger side of the black van. It looked like he was dragging his left leg. He was pulling himself up inside the vehicle. As Jackson’s view got clearer, he could see the rear of the van. Ronnie was being loaded into the back of the van by another man. Ronnie was unconscious. The man slammed the door and looked in Jackson’s direction, obviously hearing Jackson’s approach. Jackson took off in a full sprint, aiming his gun at the giant, who was now in the van, somewhat slumped forward. Jackson started shooting his gun, aiming more to the right. He did not want to miss left, since Ronnie was in the back of the van. The other man had gotten behind the wheel, kicked the van into gear and with screeched tires, jetted full blast west on Belmont.

    Jackson was still chasing the van when he recognized the sound of sirens. Standing in the middle of Belmont Avenue, with his gun at his side, Jackson had the presence of mind to look at the van’s license plate. He committed the number to memory. Dazed by it all, Jackson turned left on Spaulding, running all the way to W. Diversey Avenue. He needed to be far away from the area by the time the police arrived. Thankfully, he saw a cab just as he hit that Diversey. He hailed the cab, which miraculously stopped, despite Jackson’s appearance. Jackson pulled out a 100 dollar bill, handed it to the cabbie, saying, “Just drive. Go to Lincoln Park, then down to Soldier Field. I will tell you when to let me out.”

    Jackson threw his head hard on the cab’s back seat, exhaling loudly. He thought about Ronnie and felt himself wanting to choke up but beat back the feeling. He had to think. “Ronnie called out ‘Amy.’ He must have figured out something was wrong,” Jackson mused to himself.

    “Something beyond the bad guys just picking up some random homeless person. They knew we were there.” Jackson considered the implication of his line of thinking. None of it was good.

    “Where is Jenny,” he thought. “Is she ok?” He started to speak into his headset but realized it had been ripped away during all the action. He then reached into his pocket and grabbed his phone. He began to punch in Jenny’s number but caught himself.

    “We are on S.O.S. alert,” he thought. “That meant we have been compromised. Ronnie wanted that to be clearly understood.” Jackson had to follow the protocol that they had established. He had 48 hours to meet the team in Jenny’s hideaway, back in Virginia. Before then, none of them was supposed to reach out to the other. Taking the first step mandated by their S.O.S. process, Jackson rolled down the cab window and tossed his phone and his communication device into the street. He leaned back again in the cab seat, tapping his feet and patting his knees with his fists. The cab driver, an older white-bearded black man was glaring at him through the rear view mirror, but said nothing. Jackson had to find Ronnie, but he needed help. He wracked his brain a bit more as the cabbie traversed down N. Lake Shore Drive near Oak Street Beach.

    Jackson looked to his right at one of the most beautiful city skylines in the world. Serene. Peaceful. Majestic. Finally gathering himself, Jackson settled in on his own plan of action. He would reach out to two people. One he knew he could rely on and one he had just met.


    Read Independently Published’s description of The Fund.


    Book Excerpt – The Fund


    The Fund
    by Kevin P. Chavous

      Publication Date: May 15, 2019
      List Price: $8.99
      Format: Paperback, 302 pages
      Classification: Fiction
      ISBN13: 9781092275828
      Imprint: Independently Published
      Publisher: Independently Published
      Parent Company: Independently Published

      Read a Description of The Fund


      Copyright © 2019 Independently Published/Kevin P. Chavous No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.

      Chapter 1


      𝒥ackson Lowery was in trouble. The man was coming at him again. Jackson was much taller, but the shorter man was stronger. They both had exchanged blows, but Jackson was increasingly on the losing end of each exchange. Jackson started bouncing on his toes. Boxing psychology told him to appear strong, even though he was feeling dizzy and weak. His sparring partner, Stubby Johnson, was in stalker mode. He smelled blood. Stubby lived up to his name. Just a shade over 5’7”, with jet black skin, he was squat and mean. He resembled Don Cheadle - with about a hundred pounds added.

      Stubby pounded his gloves together and marched forward, less cautious than when the round started. Jackson was trying to get his feet right. Boxing has been called the sweet science, largely because footwork and positioning is just as important as a strong left hook. Jackson knew that when Stubby got confident, he would start to swing wildly and lose track of his balance. Jackson was hoping he could stay anchored with his left foot in the front and his weight slightly back on his right foot as the predictable Stubby lunged forward with the expected overhead right. Jackson planned on leaning back just as Stubby’s right hand came toward him, then explode forward with a right cross on Stubby’s jaw.

      Jackson had played this scene out many times in his head when he agreed to spar with Stubby. He knew that Stubby tended to raise up slightly on both feet when throwing big punches, leaving himself totally unbalanced. Jackson figured if he could avoid Stubby’s punch and then hit him hard enough on the jaw, it would strike a blow to Stubby’s confidence and give Jackson the time he needed to clear his head. As predicted, Stubby approached Jackson telegraphing the expected over hand right.

      However, as Jackson prepared to duck out of the way of Stubby’s overhead right, Stubby unpredictably faked the hard right and instead threw a nasty left uppercut to Jackson’s chin. The punch sent Jackson straight to the canvas, flat on his back. Jake Daniel, Jackson’s boxing coach, immediately stopped the sparring session.

      So much for advance planning.

      Five minutes later, Jackson woke up hearing the voice of his friend and business partner, Ronnie Thomas.

      “Get up, Jack! Wake up, buddy!”

      Jake Daniel was just behind Ronnie, with a worried look on his face. Ronnie looked calm as a cucumber.

      “Jack, you ok? Time to get up,” Ronnie was saying.

      Jackson felt his head clear up. “Yeah, I am ok,” he said. “Where is Stubby?”

      “I’m over here, Jackson,” said Stubby Johnson, who was leaning forward with his hands on his knees, just beside Jake.

      “Sorry, man, but I figured you were waiting for my right hand.” Stubby had both a guilty and pleased look on his face.

      “It’s alright, man. Lesson learned,” Jackson said.

      With that, Ronnie and Jake helped Jackson to his feet. Wobbly at first, he was getting his bearings as he navigated his way out of the boxing ring.

      Despite feeling woozy, Jackson had no regrets. Ever since he, Ronnie, Jenny Roberts and Joe Sweeney started their own company, Jackson knew that he had to do more than keep himself in top physical shape. He had to develop the necessary fighting and survival skills that would keep him alive. The nature of their work demanded such. Lowery Consulting Group (LCG) was a legally licensed corporation with ongoing government contracts.

      Their primary client was Pegasus Partners, a shell corporation funded by the government, specifically the C.I.A. That agency had a little-known venture capital fund that they use to support “friendly” startup businesses. LCG does not work for the C.I.A. It solely works at the direction of the F.B.I. The best way to keep their F.B.I. work secret, however, was to get funding from another clandestine source. There was no better such source than the Central Intelligence Agency.

      On paper, Pegasus pays LCG a substantial monthly retainer for government contract consulting. The nature of that contract work, however, was not related to typical business or 9-5 office tasks. Everything LCG or as Jenny liked to say, “Team Jackson,” did for the government was clandestine and covert. Those things that the government - even the F.B.I. - could not do. In fact, LCG only went to work when the F.B.I. called. Which was rare. In the meantime, Jackson and his colleagues stayed in shape, tried to live normal lives and remained close to their phones. Calls from their contracting officer could come anytime day or night.

      Jackson slowly found his way to the gym’s locker room with Ronnie by his side. Just before opening the locker room door, he looked back at the boxing ring and Jake Daniel was back in the ring refereeing another sparring match. Stubby Johnson was standing next to the ring giving high fives to a couple of the regular gym onlookers. Though his head was ringing, Jackson felt his face get flush. That visual of Stubby celebrating his punch made Jackson mad. Reading him like a book,

      Ronnie squeezed Jackson’s shoulder, smiled and said, “That’s it, Jack. Be pissed off and learn from it. Six months ago, you would not have had that reaction. I am going to make a killer out of you yet?”

      Jackson arched an eyebrow and shook his head as he stripped and went into the old, dingy shower. Under the steam of hot water and still gathering his wits, Jackson was mulling over Ronnie’s words. Jackson was thinking about that shadow self, the dark side we all have. For years, as a high-flying prosecutor, then law professor, Jackson never acknowledged his own dark side. The previous year and a half changed all that. Being falsely accused of murder by white supremacists, then on the run for his life, led Jackson to see the side of him he never knew existed. Now, he embraced his shadow self. Possibly too much. His new work, training and outlook on life have all created a new edge in Jackson. An edge he had embarrassingly grown to like.

      After getting dressed, Jackson walked out of the locker room, walked past the boxing ring and grudgingly waved at Stubby, who returned the greeting. Jake Daniel trotted over to Jackson as he was headed out the door. “You’ll get ‘em next time, Jackson. I see you thinking in the ring. That’s a good thing. But always remember that e’rybody in the ring is thinkin too.”

      Jackson laughed. “I get it, Jake. Like Mike Tyson said, ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ I’ll be back. Thanks for helping me out.”

      Jackson had been introduced to Jake by Ronnie. Even though Jackson was not a natural born killer, he did have some boxing skills, thanks to his father’s teachings when he was a boy. Understanding the nature of their work, Ronnie told Jackson that he should play to his strengths. Jackson had been training with Jake Daniel for three months at the legendary Daniel Boxing Gym just off Bladensburg Road in Washington, D.C. The Ivy City neighborhood where the gym is located is one of D.C.’s many gentrified communities. Jake had confided to both Jackson and Ronnie that he did not think he could last another five years at his current location. Even though he owned the building, it was increasingly difficult for him to pay the taxes.

      While Jackson was getting dressed, Ronnie had gone to retrieve his brand new, bullet-proof black Ford F-150 Raptor truck, so he could pick up Jackson right in front of Jake’s gym entrance. Jackson threw his duffel bag in the back seat and climbed in.

      “Our contracting officer is trying to reach you,” Ronnie said. “He says he has been trying to call you for a couple of hours. I told him that you were knocked out cold in the boxing ring. He didn’t seem a bit surprised.” Ronnie began snickering.

      Jackson was knowingly smiling as well.

      LCG’s contracting officer was none other than F.B.I. Director Ed Harrington. Years ago, Harrington was Jackson’s boss when they both prosecuted crimes in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office. Their relationship was rocky for several years until Team Jackson helped foil a well-orchestrated plot to kill scores of black and brown kids. The plot was now commonly known as the Plan and it was organized by white supremacists.

      “Why didn’t Ed just send someone over to the gym? It would have been much easier,” Jackson said, still smiling. Both he and Ronnie knew that the F.B.I. regularly monitored their location by way of mobile tracking devices. They also knew that young Joe Sweeney, their computer whiz LCG colleague occasionally uses his skills to scramble the tracking when the team wants to move around freely. That knowledge was the main reason that they were smiling.

      “True,” Ronnie said. “Just give him a call. You can talk to him while I take us to get something to eat. I was going to go to Ivy City Smokehouse, since it is so close,” referring to a hip seafood tavern used by long time locals and gentrifiers alike. “But since you got yourself knocked out in the ring today, I figured we could go to NuVegan. Your food.”

      Jackson shook his head while dialing Harrington’s number.

      “Appreciate that, Ronnie,” he said, just as Harrington picked up the phone on the first ring. Without saying hello, Harrington launched right into business.

      “Ronnie told me you got knocked around a bit today. Hope you are ok. Get your team together. You have work to do,” Harrington said.

      “Ok, Ed. What’s going on? Can you give me some idea what’s happening?”

      Harrington was short with his reply. “Someone is killing and snatching homeless people all over. Confirmed disappearances are taking place in New York, Chicago and Philly. I am guessing there are more. Meet me at the usual spot in exactly three hours. We need you to do what you do.”

      Chapter 12


      𝒥ackson had seen the black van on Avondale, traveling without lights at about the same time he heard Ronnie’s S.O.S. warning come through his earpiece. He was still leaning back against the column, partially shielded by the attached chain linked fence. As he was about to rise from his position, he heard a funny sounding buzz, then saw sparks coming from the fence. At the same time, he heard gunfire. He looked in the direction of the shots and caught a glimpse of Ronnie firing away at the black van. Jackson jumped up and saw two men on the other side of the fence, less than 10 feet from him. One man was trying to climb over the fence, while the other man was trying to pull a rugged looking rope or string from around the fence.

      The man at the end of the rope looked a little wobbly. It took a moment for it to register, but Jackson understood that the rope was actually a taser line. The man had tried to taser him, missed and got the device tangled on the chain link fence. From the looks of it, he also may have electrocuted himself.

      Here, Jackson made a decision that confirmed his career change from prosecutor to law professor to covert operator. He pulled out his gun and tried to kill a man. Without any hesitation. Jackson shot the man who was trying to climb over the fence, hitting him in the chest just as he finished his climb. The man fell back onto the fence and slumped into a sitting pose with his arms extended to his side. Jackson felt no remorse.

      He immediately focused his attention on taser man, who was clearly struggling to gain his wits. Jackson put the gun in his parka, climbed over the fence, made a fist and hit taser man with the right cross he had wanted to give to Stubby Johnson a few days earlier. Taser man fell backwards, hit his head on the concrete and did not move. Blood started to run on the concrete from the back of the man’s head. Jackson removed his gun from his pocket and ran around to the end of the column-laced fence, turned left on Belmont and raced toward where he had seen Ronnie unloading his weapon.

      As he got within 100 feet, he saw a giant of a man straining to get into the passenger side of the black van. It looked like he was dragging his left leg. He was pulling himself up inside the vehicle. As Jackson’s view got clearer, he could see the rear of the van. Ronnie was being loaded into the back of the van by another man. Ronnie was unconscious. The man slammed the door and looked in Jackson’s direction, obviously hearing Jackson’s approach. Jackson took off in a full sprint, aiming his gun at the giant, who was now in the van, somewhat slumped forward. Jackson started shooting his gun, aiming more to the right. He did not want to miss left, since Ronnie was in the back of the van. The other man had gotten behind the wheel, kicked the van into gear and with screeched tires, jetted full blast west on Belmont.

      Jackson was still chasing the van when he recognized the sound of sirens. Standing in the middle of Belmont Avenue, with his gun at his side, Jackson had the presence of mind to look at the van’s license plate. He committed the number to memory. Dazed by it all, Jackson turned left on Spaulding, running all the way to W. Diversey Avenue. He needed to be far away from the area by the time the police arrived. Thankfully, he saw a cab just as he hit that Diversey. He hailed the cab, which miraculously stopped, despite Jackson’s appearance. Jackson pulled out a 100 dollar bill, handed it to the cabbie, saying, “Just drive. Go to Lincoln Park, then down to Soldier Field. I will tell you when to let me out.”

      Jackson threw his head hard on the cab’s back seat, exhaling loudly. He thought about Ronnie and felt himself wanting to choke up but beat back the feeling. He had to think. “Ronnie called out ‘Amy.’ He must have figured out something was wrong,” Jackson mused to himself.

      “Something beyond the bad guys just picking up some random homeless person. They knew we were there.” Jackson considered the implication of his line of thinking. None of it was good.

      “Where is Jenny,” he thought. “Is she ok?” He started to speak into his headset but realized it had been ripped away during all the action. He then reached into his pocket and grabbed his phone. He began to punch in Jenny’s number but caught himself.

      “We are on S.O.S. alert,” he thought. “That meant we have been compromised. Ronnie wanted that to be clearly understood.” Jackson had to follow the protocol that they had established. He had 48 hours to meet the team in Jenny’s hideaway, back in Virginia. Before then, none of them was supposed to reach out to the other. Taking the first step mandated by their S.O.S. process, Jackson rolled down the cab window and tossed his phone and his communication device into the street. He leaned back again in the cab seat, tapping his feet and patting his knees with his fists. The cab driver, an older white-bearded black man was glaring at him through the rear view mirror, but said nothing. Jackson had to find Ronnie, but he needed help. He wracked his brain a bit more as the cabbie traversed down N. Lake Shore Drive near Oak Street Beach.

      Jackson looked to his right at one of the most beautiful city skylines in the world. Serene. Peaceful. Majestic. Finally gathering himself, Jackson settled in on his own plan of action. He would reach out to two people. One he knew he could rely on and one he had just met.


      Read Independently Published’s description of The Fund.