***SU afternoon, Southeast Velo near the Harbor***
Breaking every speed limit in sight, we reached the location I had hinted at to Slick. Pulling onto surface streets, I drove to an abandoned lot that I knew from my criminal days; it was here that I had discussed getting rid of a large batch of gold bars, bars that were seized in a heist which started the whole ball of wax going two years before. Getting out of the Wraith, I reached back behind me and pulled out the Bren Ten .45 I carried, setting it on top of the car. Next to it, I placed several more magazines alongside as Kelsey got out, a now worried expression on her face. “Where are we, Matt?”
Before I could reply, I saw Mike’s S-10 pull beside us; almost as soon as he pulled to a stop, he got out and began walking over to me. “Ravyn's a few minutes out. So, where are we again?”
“Remember that armored car heist, Slick? The one with the three guards..........yeah, that one,” I said, causing Kelsey’s eyes to widen. “Well, this is where we discussed it beforehand.” Taking out a map of the north Harbor area, I got out a pen and circled an address on the map. “Alright, this is the safehouse where the Whisper is currently located. According to our late inspector, there’s supposed to be a pickup at 9pm, but we’re going to intercept him beforehand,” pausing as several others jogged over to the Wraith. “Afternoon, Ravyn,” I said, looking at the new arrivals.
“Well, hello to you too, Matt,” quipped Zero’s floor manager. I did a double take. Normally, Ravyn wouldn't be seen outside Zero without an Armani suit but this time he was wearing jeans and a large shirt with what looked to be a flak vest underneath it. He was also carrying a sidearm with him, a Bersa Thunder .380 strapped to his right leg. This was new, I thought, before remembering that back in Memphis, Ravyn had been a detective with the Memphis PD.
After a few more minutes we split up and went back to our rides. As we pulled out of the lot, I looked over and saw that the worried expression on Kelsey’s face was gone, changed into a serious one as she was busy loading a Kimber Custom TLE .45. Looking back towards the road, everything was silent until I heard Kelsey whisper, “What the.....,” whipping around to look towards the other side of Figueroa St. “Was that who I thought it was, Matt?”
“Where?” I said, slowing down.
“Back there, getting into a car. That was the Whisper, Matt, back there about a half-block or so,” she replied, still looking back towards the other side of the street. Slowing down to make a u-turn, I hit the Bluetooth switch and punched in one of the numbers. “Ravyn, you hear me?”
After a few moments, I heard his reply. “Yeah, Matt, what’s wrong?”
“You’re not going to believe this, but Kelsey just spotted the Whisper leaving a bar on Figueroa. Looks like he got–,” pausing to make a u-turn, I was now headed south on Figueroa, “–into a silver/black Aero. Pardon to me for saying this but I’ve seen this movie before, Ravyn,” a reference to the motorcycle chase from two years ago. “I’m keeping this line open; I’m going to follow him, see where he goes. Stay tight.”
Concentrating on the street ahead, I saw him turn onto Bridges Blvd.; following him, I kept a safe distance, not wanting him to know he’d been spotted. Eventually, after what seemed to be a long pursuit of just following him, he slowed to a stop, as if he pulling to the curb when all of a sudden I saw him gun the Aero right onto an entrance ramp for the 405 freeway. Without hesitating, I gunned the engine and charged after him onto the freeway. The chase, as they say, was on.
***Southeast Velo City, SU afternoon***
As I began chasing the Whisper up the 405, all my thoughts came back to the first time I’d tangled with him, especially the chase up the mountain roads outside of Velo City. That time, I’d been scared ****less but didn’t feel it; this time, I had the advantage of knowing the roads and, since we were both driving the same vehicle, I felt like nothing could touch me.
As I began to pursue him, I noticed an eerie silence; it was as if everything was being channeled away from my focus, all the sounds and all the background noises one normally hears while driving were gone, replaced by both the silence itself and the faint background beating of my heart. Up ahead, the Whisper, having realized he was being followed, began accelerating faster, weaving to and fro. I followed suit, dancing my way along as I slowly started catching him. There was no desperation in the Whisper as he kept weaving in and out of traffic. In the background I could hear Kelsey talking to Ravyn over the Bluetooth, letting him know where we were. Suddenly, I saw up ahead a cloud of smoke as the Whisper lurched his Aero off the 405 and onto a surface street. “Hang on!,” I said as I followed suit, narrowly avoiding an eighteen-wheeler in the process.
Now we were back on surface streets, Kelsey calling out side streets over the Bluetooth as I kept the Whisper in my sights. You are not getting away from me, you son of a *****!, I said to myself. Our chase continued for several more minutes until, up ahead, I saw someone’s car run right up the back of another before launching itself into the air. The car proceeded to make a hard landing, rolling several times before it came to a stop, smoke and steam billowing out from every conceivable part of the vehicle.
Coming to a stop nearby, Kelsey and I jumped out of the Wraith, just as someone crawled out from under the Aero and, seeing us running towards him, took off down a side street. Without even thinking, I took off after him, running as fast as I could. A couple of times, he tried climbing over fences, which didn’t do anything as I just climbed over them as well.
Turning onto another side street, he started knocking people out of the way. I kept after him, yelling “Out of the way, out of the way!” and trying not to hit anyone in the process. Suddenly I heard the whip-crack of a bullet fly past. Yeah, I thought to myself, I have seen this movie before. Drawing my sidearm, I kept after, dodging a few more bullets that were fired at me. Running down another alleyway, I saw the Whisper try to climb a wrought-iron fence. When I got close enough I aimed and fired at him, hitting the iron fencing as he dropped to the other side.
Climbing the fence, I looked over and saw him running away but with a noticeable limp. Jumping to the other side, I landed a bit awkwardly but got my bearings and started chasing him down. “It’s over, Young; give it up!,” I yelled at him, two years of memories inflected in my yelling. Still, he kept on, so I aimed at him again and fired. Thwack was the sound the .45 round made as it hit Young in the upper left leg, sending him sprawling to the ground. Keeping it focused on him, I walked over cautiously, watching Young try to crawl away. When I got to him, I kicked the 9mm pistol he had with him away, then stood over him, .45 drawn at him. I could kill him right now and no one’d be the wiser, I thought to myself as two years of memories flowed through me. I could see those years in vivid imagery; it only made my hate towards the Whisper bubble up more.
When I got over to him, I grabbed him by the front of his shirt and threw him up against a wall, my .45 still pointed at him. In the distance I could hear a woman’s voice crying, “No! No!,” as I looked at the Whisper, a now defeated look on his face. Those cries of “No!” got louder until, a few seconds later, Kelsey came running up towards us, her sidearm down by her leg. Right behind her was Ravyn and Mike while in the distance the plaintive wails of police sirens could be heard. “Don’t, Matt!”, Kelsey was saying, her voice broken and hoarse from yelling. “Don’t! You’re better than he is, Matt. It’s not worth it, it’s not worth it....,” she was saying, close to tears. The others soon joined in, but I kept looking at the Whisper, all the emotions of the past still bubbling through. Eventually, ever so slightly, my gun arm began to drop as their words penetrated the thick armor I had up around me. Seconds past by slowly while I lowered my arm, all the while just waiting, hoping the Whisper would try something. Then Kelsey’s words came through all that emotional armor and I thought, She’s right.......he’s not worth killing. Even with everything he’s done to me, Stephanie, Kelsey and my friends the past two years, he’s not worth it.
I began to back up away from him as several police vehicles screeched to a halt behind us. Several uniformed VCPD officers and a couple of plainclothes detectives came running over, their guns all drawn and pointed at the Whisper. I holstered my weapon and turned around. “You’re right,” I said to Kelsey, “he really ain’t worth it,” as an officer began to cuff him. As we were walking away, Sgt. Hilbiber walked alongside us. “I see you got him,” he said.
“Yeah, I got him,” I said to the man, then I leaned over to him. “Just make sure you lock his a#% up, okay?” He turned to Young and began to read him his rights as we walked over to a nearby ambulance. It’s over, I thought. I got the Whisper and this time he is not getting away, ever. Once we got to the ambulance, I sat down and began shaking. “You all right?”, Kelsey asked me.
“Yeah, I’m all right. It’s just....I can’t believe I caught him a second time, you know?,” I said, choked with emotion. While everyone else was standing around, I looked skyward and for the briefest of moments, I thought I could see everyone the Whisper had taken from me smiling down as if to say, “Goodbye, Matthew. Everything’s okay now.” And for the briefest of moments a tear fell to the ground as if in acknowledgment. Taking a couple of deep breaths, I looked over at Kelsey and said to her, “You know, my dear, we have got a few things to catch up on,” which drew a groan from both Ravyn and Mike. Kelsey shot both of them a stern look as I said, “What? What?” As I said it, Kelsey put her arms around me and drew me close to her. As she did so, she asked, “Such as?” Rather than say anything, I put my hands up to her lovely face and kissed her for the longest time. I didn’t care who looked.......after all, what were they going to do, arrest us?