Rather than appear foolish afterward, I renounce seeming clever now. - William Baskerville

The Great Escape - Chapter 13
(c)1999-2001 KSH

"I'm not Guido!" Neal shouted.

"I am aware of that, Mr. Schon." the man answered. "However, I feel that there are matters that we should discuss among ourselves before this unfortunate situation progresses further."

Jon stepped backwards, allowing the man and his two companion to come into the living room.

"If you would please sit down," the man said, waving toward the couch. "Having people stand over me makes me nervous."

Jon, Neal, and Stacy exchanged glances and sat on the couch. The man took the recliner opposite them, and his two goons stood on either side of him.

*If either of them asks if he's going to make us an offer we can't refuse, I'll kill them with my bare hands.* Jon thought to himself.

"Would you care for anything to drink?" the man began.

Jon and Neal both managed to say "No, thank you." Stacy just shook her head, wide-eyed.

"Well, then, let's get down to business. I am Vincent Gianetti, head of Bayside Family Holdings. Leroy Myers was my accountant, and I understand he was also your accountant, Mr. Schon. I became suspicious of certain transactions on our business account, and had Leroy investigated. I was quite surprised to learn that he had been embezzling from me. He was like family, you know? It hurts me right here," he thumped his chest. "that he could do something like that. I sent my associate, whom you know as Guido, to speak with him. No one knows what happened, why things turned out the way they did, I certainly did not intend for there to be any violence. Guido was completely acting on his own when he killed Leroy. Mr. Schon had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, which I truly regret. This has put all of us in a difficult situation."

Jon was leaning forward, and had been nodding his head occasionally. "I understand your position, Mr. Gianetti. Leroy's death, and Guido's involvement in it, are going to be matters for the authorities to handle, but I can appreciate your wanting to discuss your and our involvement before any of us talk to the police."

Neal stared at Jon. *He's gone over to the Darkside!*

"You are an intelligent and articulate man, Mr. Cain. How do you see this situation?" Mr. Gianetti leaned forward himself.

"Well, really none of us want to be involved in this matter. The negative publicity wouldn't be good for your business, or our group. We really don't know each other, other than the conversation we're having right now, so there is no reason any of us would have any ill will toward one another. Your business is your business, and doesn't concern the rest of us. I hope that you would understand that our only interest in getting involved in this situation was to keep Neal, and later myself and Stacy, alive. I have the disk that Leroy gave Neal, and will be glad to turn it over to you." He reached into his pocket, got the disk, and handed it to Mr. Gianetti. "After all, Leroy is dead, so it will be up to you whether to proceed with the embezzlement investigation. You may not want it to be public knowledge, for the sake of your investors. Certainly, we have no bearing in whether you do so or not, and we, of course, would keep this matter strictly confidential."

"Very astute," Mr. Gianetti put the disk inside his coat and sat back in his chair. "You're right of course, that the negative publicity would be detrimental to all of us. My organization has no wish to interfere in your futures, and I am glad that you feel the same way toward us. I appreciate your discretion in this matter. As a businessman yourself, you obviously understand the effect negative publicity could have on a legitimate business venture. I like you, Mr. Cain. Have you considered, once your band is able to tour, playing some state fairs and the like? I have connections that could assist you with bookings."

"I don't know how long it may be before we're ready to tour, but I appreciate your offer, and I will certainly keep it in mind."

"Okay," Stacy interrupted. "So what we're saying is that we'll all just tell the police what we have to about the murder, and forget about the rest of it?"

Mr. Gianetti nodded and gestured with his hands. "Mr. Cain and I feel that would be the best solution. Do you agree, Mr. Schon?"

Neal looked at Jon, then at Mr. Gianetti. "I don't see any reason for anything else to be discussed outside this room. But what about Guido?"

"The situation will be handled."

They were all silent for a moment, unsure of how to respond to the obvious threat.

Finally, Jon stood and addressed Mr. Gianetti. "How do you think we should proceed?"

"Go to the police and give your statements about the murder. Then, are far as the three of you are concerned, everything will be over." Mr. Gianetti stood and shook hands with each of them. "It's been a pleasure talking with you. It's not often that I meet individuals who are reasonable, and have the same goals in mind as I do. Maybe we shall meet again. I was sincere in my offer about the concert bookings. Please give me a call if I can be of assistance."

He handed Jon a business card, and turned toward the door. One of the goons was already there, opening the door for him. The three left, and shut the door behind them.

"So," Stacy turned to Jon. "Do we take Tim's notebook and computer disks to the police?"

"Might as well," he answered. "It will give the police enough information to bring him in and close some cases. The codes are apparently who he did the jobs for. The cops probably won't be able to figure them out, and Tim won't be around long enough to tell them."

Neal stood. "Then I guess if nobody else is waiting out on the front porch, we go."