The next day, Russek didn’t have a moment’s hesitation in lending Williams his car because he had a police vehicle he could use. He’d just jokingly asked him to gas it up, which was a pretty expensive request that spring. It was only when Williams didn’t bring it back that night that he’d started to wonder what was going on. At one AM, Russek called the station to ask them to run the LoJack location. He didn’t recognize the address in the South Bay, but it was odd enough that he asked some local cops to meet him there.
It was more than odd, it was an ambush. Arriving at the deserted industrial park, Russek and the local cops were driven into the boxy glass and stucco building by gunfire. More gunfire inside; Russek dove into an office where he found a skinny young guy with long brown hair and big brown eyes working frantically on a laptop under a desk.
“Oh, my God, who are you?” the kid asked in a panicked whisper and white as a sheet.
“Can you get me out of here?”
“Yeah, if I can get myself out of here,” Russek hissed back.
They made their way into other offices; every corridor led to a dead end, or worse, shots out of nowhere. At one point, the boy picked up a stray gun and shot one of the shadows about to shoot Russek. “Thanks, kid,” Russek said, genuinely touched.
“You’re welcome, just– let’s go!” The kid was very quietly having a nervous breakdown.
Russek’s cop-hearing picked up the sirens before the kid did. He huddled with him behind some file cabinets and knew they’d be okay in a few minutes. “What’s your name, kid?”
“It’s not kid, it’s Drew, Drew Ryan. Let’s get–”
“Drew? What’s that short for?” Russek whispered, pulling the fidgety, shaking kid into his arms, mainly to keep him quiet.
“Andrew.” Drew calmed down a little once Russek had his arms around him. “This is a weird time for introductions, but, you? Who are you?”
“Paul Russek. Detective. Hear those sirens?” Russek asked, his lips very close to Drew’s ear. “We’re gonna be okay. What were you doing in here?”
“I’m an IT consultant–”
“Computers. I work on computers,” Drew said barely audibly under the gunfire around them and the heavy boots of the LAPD SWAT team storming the building. Russek got out his cell phone and called headquarters to tell them to relay his presence, location, and to not shoot him or the witness with him.
At the precinct, Russek waited until Drew made his statement, which was simply that he was supposed to meet his friend John Reid at the building to discuss a computer job, and then hid from the burglars when the shooting started. Except, as Russek learned while making his own statement, they weren’t garden variety burglars, they were heavily armed Samoan girls. At least the dead ones they found when the smoke cleared were. And what they were after in an inconspicuous office building that he later learned was a DARPA front was still a mystery.
“I know your lock-up is jammed with terrorists,” Russek explained to the precinct captain. “So I’m taking him home with me. If that’s a problem, then I’ll arrest him and he’ll be in my custody.”
“Shit, Russek, he’s a witness, not a suspect,” the captain spat at him. “Take him to Disneyland for all I care. I couldn’t get him in our lock-up with a shoehorn anyway. Go home, go away. But he stays where he can be questioned. You know the drill.”
“Yeah, I do,” Russek thought as he collected Drew and drove home in his unmarked police car. His private car had been impounded, which was annoying, but not the end of the world.
“Wh-where are we going?” Drew asked in the car.
“You wanna go to your place?” Russek asked, slowing the car down.
“No, I…I’m in a hotel, I just have a few things…”
“New in town? Okay, let’s get your stuff,” Russek said, sounding like he was in charge and this was the best possible idea. Drew didn’t argue; soon he had his suitcase, was checked out and on his way to Russek’s tiny house on a Silverlake hillside.
“You can sleep on the couch, which isn’t so comfortable,” Russek said when they arrived. “Or you can sleep with me. You still look a little freaked out.”
“I feel very freaked out,” Drew admitted, following Russek into his bedroom.
They didn’t become lovers that night, but it was inevitable from the moment Russek put his arms around the shaking kid to calm him down in the shoot-out. Russek had fallen deeply in love with Drew.
For those of who’d rather read this as a pdf, it’s here: Electricland_by_Mayerson_Serialization_Pages. Ain’t I nice?
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