By the time Hailee finished with her shower and Trent had the coffee made, it was half past five in the morning. We sat around Trent's small kitchen table. He studied the display on his laptop and wrote copious notes into a composition book. That had me curious.
"Oh, my head is still pounding," Hailee said after sipping some coffee.
"How's your stomach," I asked.
"You should eat something to get your strength back."
"Maybe in an hour or so I'll be able to keep something down." She stared at me. "Don't try to change the subject. What happened overnight? Who got into my room and took that photo? I am totally creeped out."
"A woman who goes by the name of Myna." I sighed. "This is a long story, and I'll need to start at the beginning."
Trent already knew most of it, but for Hailee's benefit I repeated the events as they unfolded, holding back nothing, starting with the fire at the Ben Hur film set, my discovery of the operation in the canyon, her phone call to me which led to us being tracked down, and the threat to Hailee's life unless all activity on that set ceased.
Hailee started playing with the ends of her hair which meant she was distressed. "This is Tyrone Post all over again. Only worse."
"I'm not going to lie to you," I said. "It's a bad situation."
Hailee turned to Trent and asked, "What do you make of all this?"
He looked up from his laptop monitor. "I know what's going on." He scribbled some notes into his composition book.
Classic Trent, making a statement like that and then going quiet. I tapped my palm against the tabletop to get his attention. "C'mon, T, Hailee is in trouble. Don't you want to help her?"
"My analysis isn't yet complete," he said in a frustrated tone of voice.
I felt more than frustrated. "That doesn't matter. Tell us what you know."
He rested a hand on the side of his face and drummed his cheek with his fingers. "Let's consider all of the facts logically and sequentially. Myna didn't kill you and Hailee outright tonight, because she didn't know for sure who else you might have told about their operation. Even if you tried to convince her that nobody else knows, she can't be certain that you're telling the truth."
"And they are burdening you with shutting down the film site. Hailee is their leverage. Think about that. You have the upper hand because all you need to do is contact the FBI, Homeland Security, or any other law enforcement agency. It's a huge gamble on their part that you won't. They're banking you really care about Hailee and will respect Myna's threat."
Hailee interjected, "You would think these people, whoever they are, would just shut down their operation and leave, or relocate someplace else. Wouldn't that be easier?"
"Apparently not," Trent said. "They are entrenched, invested too much, and placed too high a value on their operation to just shut it down. They've obviously run a risk analysis and determined their current course of action to be the most viable solution."
Trent paused to refill his coffee cup, allowing Hailee and I to digest what he just said.
"However, there is another possibility," Trent continued. "Myna has to know that your chances of shutting down that film set are remote. She might just be buying time with her threat. This operation might not be permanent. She might be coming to an end of a project." He paused. "The more I consider that possibility, the more it makes sense to me."
YOU ARE READING
The Story of SingTeen Fiction
[2018 Wattys Short List] - Sixteen-year-old Sing strives to do well in school so that he can find a decent job and provide a better life for his crippled mother and younger brother, Jacko. That goal becomes derailed when Sing is falsely accused of a...