Shell of a man

metal people sculpture with graffiti

More of Andrew’s story

A scruffy grocery delivery man loitered in the hallway, teetering on the brink of passing out at any moment into a drug-induced euphoria.

“You are far too good at your job, stop it,” Roni said when she answered the door. “You’re creeping me out.”

Mayfield morphed before her eyes. The disheveled stoner straightened his clothes and stood up from his normal slouch. He ran his fingers through long, shaggy hair, gathering it into a remarkably smooth ponytail.

“I can see why they call you Gaslight,” Roni said, as she let Mayfield into her apartment. “I bet you can make anyone believe anything.”

A smirk tugged at the corner of Mayfield’s mouth.

“I don’t know, Madam Weronika,” he said. “Your prognostication skills are pretty impressive too.”

Roni held a manila envelope to her forehead, her eyes closed.

“I see, I see a long train trip in your future,” she said, handing Mayfield the envelope. “It’s easy to appear omniscient when you have access to all the Agency’s investigative resources.”

Taking the folder, he opened the flap, and dumped its contents on the living room floor then sat down amidst the clutter. He leaned back against the Anthropologie sectional and spread out a collection of photographs.

“I almost didn’t recognize him,” Mayfield said, pointing to a distinguished man who was shown in many of the photos. “Drew cleans up nice.”

“The makeover was remarkable, but these photos don’t do justice to his complete transformation,” Roni said, joining Mayfield on the floor. “You and Sotomayor did a great job safeguarding him.”

“Soto is an amazing mentor,” Mayfield said. “He’s been an operative forever. He took me straight out of the Academy. Drew was my first ward. I’ve been at this for five years. Soto was pretty much on his own before that.”

“I still can’t wrap my head around how you both kept him from knowing you were watching him all this time,” Roni picked up one of the older photos.

“That was our job,” Mayfield began putting the photos in order. “Now that Grainger is out, it was time to set the plan in motion.”

“Isn’t Drew in even more danger let loose like this?” Roni handed Mayfield the picture she was holding. He put it into the chronological array. “Couldn’t he be walking into an ambush? If Drake knows about Drew, so do Drake’s bosses.”

“It’s unlikely,” Mayfield said. “Grainger thinks he was successful in scaring Drew off the case. The wife was the target, a warning. The daughter was icing. Drew’s been under the radar all these years. Grainger’s people believed he went south. We sent out rumors that he was in Cuba. No U.S. extradition and hard for them to get in too. Drake could never confirm Drew’s identity, and you already spooked him. I’ll just work my gaslight magic on him, and Drake’ll back off.”

“I read in Drew’s file that he witnessed the explosion,” Roni said, picking out a photo of Drew 20 years younger.

“Soto told me that he was on his way home to get both Ashley and Annalise, and take them out of town.” Mayfield picked up the pile of photos. “He was within a block of the scene.”

“Damn,” Roni shook her head. “I cannot imagine.”

“For the first few years, Soto said it was all he could do to keep Drew from going crazy or killing himself. He was just a shell.” Mayfield pushed himself off the floor and onto the couch. “It wasn’t until Drew started all his legal proselytizing that he came back to life.”

“I’m worried about him,” Roni said, joining Mayfield on the couch. “You didn’t see him when I passed the key to him.”

“He was gone so fast, I didn’t see him at all before he left,” Mayfield confessed. “He cleared out in less than 24 hours. He’s on a mission. I don’t think Soto or I could’ve stopped him even if we wanted to. All we can do now is track him. Give he any help we can along the way. These photos are going to be a big help.”

“Where do you think he’s going first?” Roni asked.

“He’s going to see a woman about a key.”

“Norma Feherty?”

“Yeah,” Mayfield said. “Ashley Ransom’s childhood best friend, Nori, and keeper of secrets she isn’t even aware she has.”

This week’s Studio30 Plus: “Gaslight” and/or “Brainwash”

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