2007-06-12: Map to Dark Road


Ramon_icon.gif Haitian_icon.gif Elena_icon.gif Manuel_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif

Summary: The Haitian visits Ramon and gives him a lead.

Date It Happened: Thursday, June 12 2007

Map to the Dark Road

Today's afternoon job brings Ramon to PS-79, where some smart ass hacker kid crashed all the computers in time for the report cards to not go out. So he has to do a data recovery, and a system restart, and about a million other pain in the ass things to the servers. He's in their server room now, with the door wide open and the halls empty now that the kids have gone home at 4:00 p.m. Security at the high school is null because its not one of the ones with metal detectors. With his big blue van outside he's easy to find.

The sound of someone walking down the empty halls is the first sign that someone is on their way to see Ramon Gomez as he toils away. The footsteps are spaced apart by long strides, and each one is very precise. Unmasked, these are not the steps of someone trying to be silent. It's someone who wants to be seen. When the source of those steps appears in the doorway of the server room, that may come as a surprise, for it is none other than the shadowy figure known as the Haitian. Despite the muggy weather, the man is wearing a dark suit jacket and equally dark jeans, which his hands are tucked into. And yet there's nothing casual about him. He simply stands, waits, calmly regarding Ramon.

"It's going to take me another three ho—" He begins. He'd begun this sentence with his head stuck under a tall group of wires and ended it staring at the Haitian. He straightens and says, "Elena passed on the message but I didn't know how to contact you. I'm glad you found me."

"It is best … that you do not contact me," the tall, dark man in the doorway says to Ramon a voice shaped by his homeland. Elena said where or when he was coming, but clearly, it's here and now. "I have something … you might want to hear. It is about the man who is responsible for your wife's death."

"You have my full attention." He's like a hunting dog on point, his eyes sharpening as he looks at the Haitian. His fists clench a little and he looks ready to spring out of there. Though he's got no new leads to follow, and though his intervention lately has been passive, he has not nor will not ever forgotten.

The Haitian glides with one fluid step into the server room itself. He closes the door behind him until it clicks softly, securing them inside. "Are you prepared…" the man's eyes, which have unwaveringly never left Ramon, narrow ever-so-slightly, crinkling an otherwise smooth and stoic visage. "… To face your nightmares? I know that you are a man of God. To stop this man who makes a mockery of faith - you must walk a dark road. Have you made your peace? How strong … is your faith, Mister Gomez?"

Ramon has never been one for riddles. "I'll do whatever it takes," he says, growling the words out firmly. "My faith is as strong as it takes. What do I need to know? What do I need to do? I need to run a dark road? Fine, just tell me where to get on it."

Ramon is regarded for several moments with intelligent eyes darker, even, than his own. Eventually, the Haitian takes a small piece of folded paper from his pocket. "I cannot tell you what to do. I can only lead you to the road." He offers the other man the neat square of paper between two long fingers. "I just hope for the sake of your wife and all the others, you know how to walk it."

'JOHN CARTER' and underneath that 'BROOKLYN'."

"Yeah. Me too," Ramon says, glancing down at the paper. John Carter in Brooklyn. He takes it and then slips it into his wallet. "I'll start reading this map tonight," he promises. He does have to finish the job he's on first. Getting fired won't be a very good start to the road, and he's already right on the edge. "Thank you."

The Haitian man only regards Ramon in silence, slowly nodding his head once. Although his words are nonexistent, his look seems to convey: 'it's the least I could do' and simultaneously 'be careful'. To that end, as he turns toward the door and draws it open, he looks back over his broad shoulder. One more thing…

"Keep your daughter safe."

His pointed warning look to Ramon lingers, but only for a moment; he steps out into the hallway. There are no distinct footfalls this time. He just slips away as if he was never there.

Ramon feels a chill and picks up his phone, the reflexive father maneuver after tall dark and mysterious utters that. The Haitian might, after all, be trying to warn him of something. He breaks out into a cold sweat. All of the Haitian's riddles about dark roads have him concerned. Just what does the man think he's going to have to do, what darknesses to embrace, that he hasn't already?

PHONE: You dial the number 283-9721. It begins to ring.

PHONE: The other end answers, "Hello?"

PHONE: Ramon says, "Where are you right now?"

PHONE: Elena pauses at the urgent tone in her father's voice. "I'm downtown, in front of the Starbucks I used to work in. What's up?"

PHONE: Ramon pauses for a moment and then says, "Be careful. I think things are about to shift into high gear. And make up with your brother. We can't be tearing ourselves apart like a pack of wolves right now."

PHONE: Elena frowns - so much Ramon might be able to -hear- the expression. "What do you mean? Papa what's going on?" she says, looking up from where she's standing as Sam gets out of Starbucks. Crap. Looks like she might have to cancel….

PHONE: Ramon is silent for a long time. "We're on cell phones. I can't talk. Just be careful."

PHONE: Elena frowns even further. "I'm coming home right now. I'll wait for you. Take care, okay?"

PHONE: Ramon says, "Don't do that, I've got three hours left on this job. You can finish up with your friend, I'm not trying to disrupt things. I got worried about you."

PHONE: Elena falls silent for a while, and then, she nods slowly…even if Ramon can't see it. "Okay….three hours," she says. Now she's worried about him too. "I'll see you when I get home."

PHONE: You end your current call.

Ramon hangs up with Elena. Then he dials Manuel's number, even as he tucks the phone to his shoulder and gets back to work.

Manuel runs a hand over his head as he pulls his phone out of his pocket; he wouldn't be amazed if it was Elena, but that his father is the one calling him is a bit surprising to Manny. Flipping his phone open, Manny thinks for a moment before hitting the yes button, "Hola?"

"I have a lead," Ramon says simply. "Are you coming home to help me follow it or are you staying where you are?"

"<Shit…>" Manny mutters under his breath; as if things hadn't become convoluted enough for the teen. "Que es, papa?"

"We're on a cell phone," Ramon reminds Manny. "Meet me at home in 3 hours. Elena will be there so make up with her. This is big and we need to stay united. Comprende?"

Manuel sighs a little bit, momentarily forgetting who they're chasing. Nodding, even though his father can't see him, Manny just replies, "Si."

"Bueno. Bye." Ramon has lots of phone calls to make. He pauses in what he's doing and dials the next one on his list.

Manuel flips his phone shut, stuffing it into his pocket. For a moment, there's a slew of rapid-fire Spanish curses from the teen, just as quickly finished and slumping back in his chair.

PHONE: Benjamin blinks a moment, stunned at the voice on the other end, "Ramon! Hey!! I just ran into Desiree, we were making dinner plans and all, and I haven't seen you or Elena in a long time. I feel horrible about that. How're you doing?"

PHONE: Ramon grins in spite of himself. "Yeah, I guess we've lost track. My fault, I haven't been Senor Social. I hope you'll take her up on that dinner invitation. She's a real special lady, isn't she? But actually I called for a favor, if you'd be willing."

PHONE: Benjamin says, "No no, my fault too, I should have been more of a friend. I didn't even know you had a heart attack. I hope you're doing better now. Yeah, I am taking her up on the offer, cause, yeah.. oh.. okay, whatever you need. Just ask."

PHONE: Ramon says, "That wasn't a heart attack, it was just a blip," Ramon growls unconvincingly. "And Dezi thinks I don't notice that her fun snacks are rabbit food, but I'm going to eat every damn bite. But. I'd like to send you an encrypted email. It's got a name and a region of the city. I'd like you to check your firm's tax records and see if the guy's name comes up, then cross reference it with the region and try to come up with an address. I'm trying to find a whole lot of missing people that might be in real trouble, including some kids." He read the paper. "I wouldn't ask if it weren't important.""

PHONE: Benjamin says, "Oh.. okay then. She was worried, and that got me worried." Yes, Benji bought the 'blip' comment. "Oh.. ah.." Okay, this is a dilemma. Because this request? Not ethical. But Ramon is a friend, you help your friends, yet Benji is a play by the book kind of guy. AAAAH! PRESSURE. People in trouble.. this would help and.. He caves. "Alright. Send me the information. I'll see what I can find out for you."

PHONE: Ramon clicks on some keys on the other end. "It's sent," Ramon says. "Thank you, Benji. If you come up with something you'll be saving lives. I mean that."

PHONE: Benjamin says, "Alright.. lemme check.. okay.. I've got it. I'll send whatever information I can dig up back to you."

PHONE: Ramon says, "Use the keycode I included at the bottom, it'll let you encrypt your answer back. Thanks amigo."

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