The McAllisters lived in a modest home in Foxtrap. They were retired couple who appeared to live a quiet, uneventful life, but nonetheless who didn't seem surprised when Jake and Mal explained, albeit in rather general terms, the reason for their visit.
"How exactly can we help you?" Mrs McAllister asked after the four of them had stepped in the couples' living room.
"We are looking for your son Calvin," Mal explained. "It's possible that he can help us with a case we're working on."
"Do you think our son's in some sort of trouble?" Mr McAllister asked.
"We don't actually know, but it's possible," Jake said carefully. "Is there any reason why you think he might be in trouble?" He didn't miss the look that passed between the couple. It was clear that Mal and he were onto something here.
"What do you mean?" Mr McAllister asked warily, clearly not quite trusting them. Jake couldn't really blame him, but considering the stakes, he found he wasn't too concerned about making new friends. Still, things would go a lot easier and definitely more quickly, if the McAllisters told them what they knew about their son.
"Well, you didn't exactly seem surprised to see us," Jake told them.
Another look passed between husband and wife.
"It's true, we have been worried about him lately," Mrs McAllister finally confessed. For a moment, it seemed like she was going to continue, but she appeared to change her mind and broke off, grasping her husband's hand tightly.
"Listen, we really need to get in touch with your son. Do you know where we might be able to find him?" Mal asked, getting straight to the point.
The couple didn't answer.
"I get it, I really do. You don't want to get your son into trouble. You clearly are worried about him and about what's gotten involved in, and there we are, asking you all sorts of questions. You have no reason to trust us and every reason to want to protect your son, and to be honest, I probably would do exactly the same thing in your position."
"He's not our son," Mr McAllister interrupted, his voice rough.
"George!" his wife protested.
"It's true. We always treated him like our own, we really thought of him as our son, but ever since Calvin found out that we weren't his biological parents, he's been...different."
"When did he find out?" Jake asked.
"About nine months ago. We really did plan to tell him earlier, but somehow, the time was never right and then...I guess, we eventually forgot about it," Mrs McAllister said.
"He dropped by to pick up some of his old things, when he accidentally found the documents from the adoption in a desk in the attic. We tried to explain things to him, about why he never told him, but he was very angry. For a moment there, I thought he was going to hit George! But he just stormed out and we haven't seen or spoken to him since. Except this morning, we got a letter from him." Mrs McAllister's voice was shaking by the end of the sentence. Her husband, pulled an arm around her comfortingly.
"What was in the letter, if I may ask?" Mal questioned.
Mr McAllister cleared his throat before answering: "It was a good-bye letter. He...he wrote to tell us that we wouldn't be seeing him again, that he was going to make a fresh start somewhere abroad."
"Did he mention where?"
They both shook their heads. "Please tell us the truth, is Calvin in trouble?" Mrs McAllister repeated her husband's earlier question.
"Yes, I'm afraid so," Mal answered. "We believe he may have gotten involved with some rather dangerous people."
Mr McAllister hesitated before asking. "You mean his biological family, don't you? I take it you know who they are?"
"Yes, we know," Jake confirmed.
"So, you can understand why we are worried," Mrs McAllister explained tearfully. "We didn't dare get in touch with the police because we feared they would arrest Calvin and we didn't want to get him into trouble. Not when we don't know if he really did anything wrong."
"Does Calvin have a girlfriend?" Jake asked on a sudden hunch.
The parents shook their heads. "Not as far as we know," George McAllister replied. "There was a girl he used to see, but she broke up with him almost two years ago. I highly doubt they are still in touch. It did end pretty badly."
"He did mention that he had met someone though?" his wife reminded him. When her husband regarded her in confusion, she added, "in the letter, don't you remember, he mentioned that he had found someone to share his new life with."
"Did he mention her name by any chance?" Jake asked, his heart now beating faster in his chest. He couldn't explain it, but his instinct told him that he was on to something here.
Mrs McAllister shook her head. "No, I don't think he ever did mention a name."
"What was that all about?" Mal asked once Jake and he were back on their way to town to check out Calvin's place.
"What do you mean?" Jake replied, just a touch defensively.
"You know what I mean," Mal insisted. "All your asking about Calvin's girlfriend?"
"Just a theory, "Jake replied, clearly unwilling to elaborate further.
"You're jealous, that's what," Mal told him. "You think, Calvin's interested in Leslie and you're jealous."
"I'm not jealous," Jake began. "Besides, it doesn't matter how I feel, what does matter is finding this Calvin guy before he does something really stupid."
"I think it's already way too late for that," Mal pointed out.
"You think he was behind the ambush?" Jake asked, not sounding convinced.
"I think it's a definite possibility. Who else would want to break out Leslie?"
"Yeah, he may have wanted to, but how would he do it?" Jake asked. "You heard his parents, he's a software engineer without so much as a parking ticket on his record."
"A software engineer who happens to look like the son of a local crime boss," Mal argued. "I think he's not nearly as harmless as his parents like to think he is."
"The computer business must be good," Jake commented as they walked up the gravel drive to Calvin McAllister's rented home on the outskirts of town.
"Maybe he just works hard. Unlike someone we both know," Mal said.
"Let's just hope he didn't invests his hard earned cash in a alarm system," Jake said, ignoring the barb aimed at him. He studied the front door and glanced around. Some shoulder-high hedges shielded them adequately from the prying eyes of any curious neighbours, but the door would still present a formidable obstacle, unless they were able to pick the lock.
"Better go 'round back," he said. "If we're lucky, he's got a patio door."
Mal nodded and they went around the side of the house. As Jake had predicted, there was a patio out back with a much more accessible glass door leading to the house. Breaking in that way was no problem, and soon they were inside the living room of the two storey building.
"This place hardly looks like anyone's living here," Mal commented. Indeed, furniture was sparse and there were no personal touches whatsoever. No pictures, nothing.
After a cursory glance around the nearly barren living room, Jake and Mal examined the kitchen and found it similarly uninteresting. Along with a small storeroom which was entirely empty, that was it for the ground floor and the two private detectives continued their search upstairs.
There were two bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms. One of them was nearly empty save for a bed and, strangely enough, a long chain affixed to the radiator. The second bedroom was more interesting however. It was the only room in the entire house that actually appeared lived in. Opposite the window stood a desk heaped with a miscellany of items including a laptop, a bunch of newspapers and several maps.
"You have a look through those papers," Jake said, "I'll see if I can get anything off the computer." Mal nodded and Jake powered up the laptop.
It quickly booted up, but much as Jake had expected, it was protected by a password.
"Now what are you going to do?" Mal asked, looking up from the pile of newspapers he was looking through.
Jake didn't reply. The possibilities were endless here and with what little he knew about this guy, guessing the password would near impossible.
Still, he decided to give it a shot and typed in 'Leslie'. He was more than surprised when the password was accepted and he was granted access to the system.
"Well, well, well," he muttered in amazement. He would have thought a software guy would have chosen a more secure password, but then, where would he be if the bad guys were always smart?
"That was quick," Mal commented, looking over Jake's shoulder.
"Anything on those newspapers?" Jake asked while he opened a folder titled 'pictures'.
"Yes, they go back a couple of months, and it looks like he cut out articles, but without the intact papers, it'll be hard to tell what exactly he cut out."
"I think I have an idea," Jake said. "Look at these."
"That's Leslie. Oh and there is you in a few of them, too."
"Yeah, looks like there is a bunch of them going back at least two or three weeks. He must have been following Leslie for a while," Jake said. "And there are many older photographs too. He was stalking his biological family!" Jake realized as he scrolled through the pictures.
"I wonder how he crossed paths with Leslie?" Mal said.
Jake shrugged. "Probably by accident somehow. We have to find something to tells us where he's planning on taking Leslie."
"Maybe he's planning on leaving the country?" Mal suggested. "He did tell his parents that he wanted to start a new life abroad. Plus, he's got to know that sooner or later, the police will get onto him as well.
"I don't know far, he's covered his tracks pretty well. But, you're right, if he's traveling with Leslie, he can't just drive across the border or hop on a plane. He needs to stay under the radar because every cop in the country probably knows what Leslie looks like by now."
Once she had gotten over her surprise, Leslie was determined to figure out how to use this new knowledge to benefit herself and if possible get out of this mess alive. Sydney Parker had been a hardened criminal and while Calvin McAllister was probably insane, he wasn't, at least as far as Leslie knew, not a career criminal.
"So, why are you doing all of this?" Leslie asked, hoping to gain further insight which she might use to her advantage.
"My father, my real father, he forced my mother to give me up for adoption just after I was born. He denied me the life I should have had and he had to pay for that. And I made sure that he will pay," the fervor behind Calvin's words left no doubt in Leslie's mind that he was being driven by a blind thirst for revenge and was unlikely listen to reason. What didn't make sense though was how she figured into the whole thing. If it was just revenge he wanted, why bother with her at all?
"But I don't want you to worry about them," he added, his voice much gentler. "I made sure they'll spend the rest of their lives in prison, where they belong."
The irony nearly made Leslie laugh and she had to bite her lip not to do so. That was exactly where she would end up, if she couldn't convince the police that she had been forced into it all by Sydney Parker's identical, crazy twin. Calvin apparently however didn't perceive the slightest bit of irony as he gazed at Leslie with what she could only describe as fondness. Feeling thoroughly creeped out, Leslie tried to distract him with another question.
"So, where are we going?" she asked.
Calvin didn't answer.
"Do you trust me or don't you?" she asked flat out, putting Calvin on the spot.
"I would love to trust you, but I'm not sure I can, not yet anyway," Calvin replied.
He wasn't completely crazy, Leslie realized, somewhat disappointed. It would probably easier if he were.
"You did try to trick me at the hospital the other day when I asked you to kill that despicable, interfering P.I. Doyle. But don't worry, I'm not holding it against you. I shouldn't have pushed you when you weren't ready. It was my fault, really. We'll both learn to trust each other in time, you'll see."
That didn't sound good in the least. It sounded very much like Calvin had plans for their future together and given the option of spending the future with Calvin and spending it in jail, Leslie was pretty sure she would prefer living as a guest of the province.
There was one positive aspect to this situation however: now that she was with Calvin, she might just be able to prove that she had been telling the truth all along. She figured that eventually they would get caught by the police who no doubt were turning the province upside down looking for her. Of course, there was danger inherent in that. Calvin had probably at least one gun stashed in the car or on his person. If he resisted an attempt by the police to stop them, things could turn ugly fast and that was the last thing Leslie wanted. She was responsible, more or less directly, for more than enough misery and death without needing to add to it any further.
But still, things were looking up for the first time in a considerable while. All she had to do was stay on Calvin's good side while finding a way to sabotage his plans, whatever they were. Piece of cake, hopefully.