Girl Detective Redux -
One: The Beginning of the End
Andrew Fayne was just a regular kid, average height, average grades, nothing distinguishing, really, except that he was extremely thin. His dad says he took after his mom in that way. In fact, he looked a lot like his mom, but more especially like Jane, his cousin. His best friend Bess said, once, with the right hairdo and the right clothes, Andy would be the spitting image of Jane. That, of course, earned her a merciless tickle attack. But then, during last year's halloween, upon Jane's and Bess's insistence, Andy had dressed up as Jane, and he fit right into her clothes. In fact, with a wig that Bess has borrowed, no one thought he was in costume since everyone thought he was Jane...
But being thin proved to be an advantage with his favorite sports, though, which were swimming and riding horses (the Faynes were a little... hoity-toity, though Andy never really acted hoity-toity). He was also very very bright and, normally, with a combination like that, someone like him would have been mercilessly teased and picked on. But since he was nominally a jock (he had won a couple of swimming medals for the school), he and his friends were left mostly alone.
He was also an avid reader, which was unusual for kids nowadays. But it was easily explainable - like most lonely kids, one of his means of escape from his loneliness was escaping into books. And, with the influence of his uncle and grandmother, he became a fan of police drama and detective stories.
His grandmother was an avid collector of Nancy Drew books, and though Andy sort of thought Nancy Drew was mostly okay, he thought the character (the original one that Gran liked) was... boring, to tell the truth. Still, for the sake of his gran, Andy did his best to appreciate her favorite books, although he much preferred Sherlock Holmes over Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.
Still, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective felt too dry and intellectual to him, similar to his feeling that Nancy Drew was as inoffensively homogenous as skimmed milk in the mornings, and just as bland. He was glad of the two newest Holmes movies starring Robert Downey Jr. and especially, for the short BBC series, "Sherlock." They updated the detective in a way that made him more relevant today, and vibrant enough to have renewed his appeal. It was a consistent topic of discussion with him and his best friends Bess and George. If ever he was asked what he's like to be when he grew up, he'd have probably said he'd want to be a world-class detective like Sherlock.
In that way he guessed he was like his peers, thinking that television fiction is just like written literary classics. He also liked, after a fashion, the CSI TV shows and other similar procedural police shows, but his real preference was for the printed word. The English version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was pretty good, for example, he thought, but the movie, though good was well, wasn't as good as the book. Needless to say, he was obsessed by detectives...
Over the years, he had accumulated a list of favorite crime and mystery writers. Among his latest favorites were Dave Zeltserman and James Ellroy. He thought David Peace's "1974" was one of the best ever. But he always had a soft spot for the old-time classic characters. Recently, he read "Spade and Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon," which was a newly-written "prequel" to "The Maltese Falcon," and he enjoyed that immensely. He supposed that's one of the reasons he liked Nancy Drew despite its 30's/50's flavor of blandness. He had hight hopes for her "re-boot" in the new graphic novels published by Papercutz, but in the end, it was all disappointing.
He was in his last year of high school, and, though he was far from popular, his life wasn't significantly different from most of the others, except that he was one of the brightest in his class despite average grades, and was everyone's go-to guy if there was some mystery to be solved - a missing student, perhaps, an unexplained anomaly in the latest algebra finals, or the latest one - the case of the missing school mascot.
But he was an underachiever, his teachers said, but that didn't stop him from getting super-excellent scores in his college boards. He was to take it again later in the fall, hoping to up his scores some more, but he wasn't really worried. He was blithely sure he would ace it again.
School had let out for the day and he was driving home in his two-door 2004 Pontiac Sunfire, just under the speed limit. The fact that their house was so far from his school was his justification to his father to buy him a car. And he did, but despite being a bit well off, his dad only gave him a budget of $7,000. So he got a Sunfire.
Because it wasn't the most popular car (it had gone out of production in 2006), he was able to get one in mint condition cheap. And then he replaced the engine block with something that had more oomph, put in race-car shocks and forks, had the original canary-yellow factory paint job renewed, and had the interior detailed. With that and an AV system of his own design installed, his canary-yellow Sunfire became the fastest, baddest and most popular car in school. He thought it was his ticket out of obscurity, but apparently not - after a month or so of semi-popularity, everything went back to the way it used to be. In fact, since he got the car, he had gotten exactly one girl to ride in it. But that girl hardly counted since that was just his best friend, Bess, and she and Andy's other best friend, George, was almost always with him.
At the moment, only George was with him (Bess had a school project she was working on), and they were talking about his latest theory regarding the missing school mascot, and, as usual, he practically had it solved. Instead of the commonly-held assumption that it was their basketball team's rival team from the neighboring school, it was actually that school's principal who was responsible. Andy, River Heights High's boy-sleuth, had the proof, as usual.
Because of these regular "unofficial" investigations, he had gotten some awards from the local police department. The School Yearbook Committee was, in fact, planning to use a picture of him in a trench coat and fedora, ala Sam Spade, with a magnifying glass in his hand.
Anyway, he was telling George more details about the "Missing Mascot Mystery," (as George had thought of it) as they walked into the Fayne's living room, when they were met by Andy's dad, William Fayne, Attorney-at-Law.
"Oh, hi, Mr. Fayne," George smiled. "How's it hangin'?" That was usually met with a laugh and a grin, but this time not even a small smile.
Andy, being his usual, observant self, reacted to that.
"Dad?" he said, "what's wrong?"
"George," Andy's dad said, "I'm sorry, but could you give us some privacy? I need to talk to Andy alone..."
George and Andy looked at each other. Andy shrugged - he didn't know what it was about, either.
"Ummm, I guess I'll go home, then."
"Sorry, George," Andy said. "Catch you in school tomorrow."
"Sorry for running you out of the house, George," Andy's dad echoed. "We'll make it up to you."
"No prob, Mr. F." He turned to Andy. "Catch ya, later, Sherlock," he said, using the school body's pet name for him, and they did that semi-complicated handshake that only Bess and the two of them knew.
As soon as the door closed, Mr. Fayne turned to Andy, and gestured for him to sit down. "I have some bad news, son," he said.
"What is it, Dad?"
Mr. Fayne's face worked, trying hard not to cry.
"Uncle Dave and Janey died this morning," he said. Dave Fayne was William Fayne's older brother, and Jane was his daughter.
Andy looked at his dad in shock. "They died?"
"The police said they were on a mountain road probably on their way here. Dave's brakes failed and they..." His dad couldn't hold it in anymore and broke down. Andy hugged his dad, and they did their best to comfort each other.
Two: Goodbye, Maria
Though they didn't really feel like it, Dad insisted on their having dinner. It was a legacy from Andy's dead mother. She had died when Andy was three, but before she passed away, she made her husband promise many things, and one of them was to take care of Andy. William Fayne took his parental responsibilities seriously.
So he, Andy and their beloved housekeeper of more than ten years, Maria, shared a silent dinner of meatloaf, sunflower bread and green salad.
They had told Maria the news, which had curbed her usual, bubbly personality.
"But that's not all," Dad said. "I got this in my private email last night, from an email address I didn't know." Andy took the paper from him and read the email. Maria stood behind Andy and read it over his shoulder.
"Dear Uncle Billy," the short email began. "Sorry to send word to you in this way, but Pop's in trouble. A case he's handling has gone bad, and we're coming over. We need help. Pop says, it's time for 'The Plan,' whatever that is. Pop said you'd know about it. Anyway, we're coming over. Pop's into something real heavy here. He says to get his hard drive from the safe deposit box, and then we'll meet you over at your house tomorrow. Say hi to the kid, and ask Maria if she can fix up my favorite cake, and tell her not to go easy on the cherries." And that was it.
The email came from someone named "nybaby105," clearly a computer-aliased address, but none of them doubted it was from Jane, especially with that comment about the cake, and her calling him "the kid."
Andy felt Maria's hand on his shoulder and heard her crying softly. He put his hand over hers and looked to his dad.
"So, you think they got them, whoever they were," Andy said.
"Yes," Dad said.
"Did you get the hard drive?"
"This afternoon," he said. Dad nodded and pulled a black device just a little larger than a pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket. He laid it, along with a thick manila envelope, on the dining table. "I also withdrew everything I could from my ATM account as well as bought some stuff."
"What about this 'plan' Jane mentioned?"
Dad sighed. "About seven years ago," he started to explain, "Dave and I saw a movie about that Enron thing. you know what that was?"
Andy nodded. "We studied it in school," Andy said.
"Well," Dad continued, "that movie really made a big impact on Dave. He said that corporate crime would become the biggest thing in the legal world, bigger even than gangs and organized crime, and that he wouldn't be surprised when people started getting killed regularly. Anyway, that was just before Dave moved to the east coast to take a job as an assistant district attorney there. I had joked that he should watch out, especially when some big corporate bigwigs started coming after his ass.
"Anyway, the both of us laughed and thought of it as a joke then, but over the years, as he got deeper and deeper into the prosecution of these corporate criminals, he had started putting together a 'plan' for going underground, 'just in case,' he said. I never really bothered to know the details coz I thought it was all just another of Dave's crackpot ideas. Anyway, all the details are here." Dad indicated the envelope.
Andy opened it and, inside, he found two passports for a Carson Nance and his daughter, Andrea. But the pictures were of Uncle Dave and Jane, except that Uncle Dave was in a severe crewcut and a mustache, and Jane had long hair and glasses. Both had different noses, and Jane had more prominent cheekbones and dimples. Andy knew that was easily done with Photoshop. Jane looked even prettier than she usually did so he knew Jane did the touch-ups.
There were also a lot of other papers in the envelope - birth certificates, driver's licenses, school records, and so many, many others. The paper trail of the life of two people.
Another bunch of papers caught Andy's eye. There were about thirty or so certificates in there. Andy thought they were school diplomas or something, but they turned out to be assorted stock certificates and bearer bonds.
"What's this?" he said.
"Those are stock certificates. Seems Dave's slowly been converting their savings into stocks of various blue-ribbon companies. And he did it through various aliases and confidential stock traders so they aren't traceable back to him. All in all, that should be around three hundred thousand dollars worth of stocks, probably more since I know Apple, Kellogg's and IBM stock values have been growing for a while."
"Why is all this important to us, Dad?" I asked.
"As I left my building this afternoon, there were half a dozen suits walking in. Thank God they didn't see me. I didn't bother to go back. Anyway, I think they're after us now. Dave and Janey were on their way here, after all."
"What do we do now?"
"Get your stuff together. Just essentials, so it won't look like we were planning to leave. As soon as we're ready, we'll sneak out. I also bought us a couple of new backpacks, jackets and sneakers. They're all in my room."
Andy nodded and climbed up the stairs.
Dad turned to Maria.
"Maria, are you okay with that?"
The matronly housekeeper nodded. "Yes, Mr. Fayne," she said, and turned to her room to pack. Dad picked up the hard drive and papers, stuffed them into the envelope and climbed upstairs to pack as well.
In a few minutes, she was done. "All set, Mr. Fayne," she called up the stairs.
"We're almost okay here, Maria," Dad called down. "Why don't you get the station wagon ready?"
Maria got the keyring for the station wagon down from the hook on the kitchen wall, went to the garage and drove the big Ford wagon out onto the street. As soon as she did, a black car zoomed from behind her and screeched to a stop in front of the Fayne house. Three men stepped out and two of them threw things through the living room windows. In seconds, several explosions rocked the house, and pieces of glass and other debris flew through the air. The third threw half a dozen beer bottles trailing fiery wicks. The molotov cocktails smashed against the remnants of the living room and burst into flame, and the fire quickly spread through the rest of the house.
At that moment, one of them turned and saw Maria, frozen in shock at the wheel of the family station wagon, looking at them with horror in her eyes. The man who threw the molotov cocktails unslung a big machine gun and fired at the old housekeeper through the car's windscreen. In seconds, Maria was dead.
The trio watched the house burn for a few more moments, and then secondary explosions collapsed the rest of the house, no doubt connected with the kitchen's LPG tanks exploding. As the neighbors started spilling into the streets, the bandits got back in their car and zoomed away. In minutes, nothing was left of the house even as the police, ambulances and fire department arrived.
Hours later, the firemen confirmed that the fire was out. The police investigators crawled around the remains of the house but they could not find any human remains. For a small-town police force, they were unusually thorough. However, they insisted that no remains were in the ruins. Still, they said that, though unlikely, it was conceivable that the bodies had completely burned away.
But there was one other thing they didn't see - that the rear garden gate was ajar. It was where Andy and his dad escaped out of the house.
Three: The Plan
At that moment, Andy Fayne and his dad were miles away, having walked through the night. Both of them were carrying bulging backpacks and nothing else, so they weren't hampered by their baggage much.
Andy was amazed how light and comfortable the new backpacks felt.
"Well, they should," Dad said. "After all, they cost six hundred dollars apiece."
Andy was incredulous. Dad explained that he bought their jackets, sneakers and backpacks at separate stores, paying for each with a ten-thousand-dollar personal check, pocketing the difference in cash. It took some doing convincing them, but It was the only way he knew to get an enormous amount of cash from the bank quickly without the transaction being flagged in their computers (closing the account would have taken at least a day). So, aside from the nine thousand five hundred dollars he was able to withdraw, he was able to get an additional ninety-five thousand and change from his check transactions. Until they can arrange for more cash, this was it.
As they talked in muted whispers, no one saw them pass by. When they felt they were reasonably away, they started looking for a car that they could steal. Eventually they came upon a bunch of cars parked in front of someone's house. Judging from the noise, it was clear that someone was having a party. They hunkered down and started trying out the doors of the cars. after a bit of searching, they were lucky and were able to find a nondescript old blue chevy, with no alarm and its doors unlocked. No keys, though, but Andy knew how to hotwire the car. Using his swiss army knife, Andy cut the appropriate wires and twisted them together. He was rewarded with the engine of the car turning over. He and his dad got in and, without gunning the engine, they slowly pulled away from the curb. He didn't turn the lights on, and only did so when they were several blocks away. He accelerated and they started making good time. They took turns driving, and pretty soon they were hundreds of miles away from River Heights. They were driving in a direction that they had randomly picked. At this point, all they wanted was to get away from their old place and lose their pursuers.
As they drove on, directionless, carefully within the speed limit, they talked over what they needed to do.
"Going back is definitely out of the question," he told his dad as he drove, "'coz I'm sure the bad guys will be watching out for us." His grief over the deaths of his uncle, Jane and Maria had been mostly burned out of him by the tears he had shed as they walked their long walk through the night. So he could think clearly now.
"Wouldn't they assume that we're already dead?" Dad asked.
"They could," Andy said, "but the police won't find any bodies, so they're gonna be suspicious. In any case, we need to lie low for a while. But, eventually, we need to contact the police and give them Uncle Dave's evidence. The police'll eventually dig up Jane's email anyway and they'll put two and two together, as well as the bad guys."
"I agree so far. So how do we lie low then?"
"I don't know, Dad..."
They thought it over, and as they drove on through the night, Dad snapped his finger.
"I think have a plan," Dad said.
But Andy thought of it simultaneously, too.
"Now wait a damn minute!"
Four: Enter Carson and Andrea
Despite Andy's protests, in the end, they decided to use his Uncle Dave's "plan."
The problem with "The Plan" was, of course, their playing the parts of two fictitious people. Not too difficult to do since they looked very close to these people's pictures, close enough to be look-alikes. It's just that one of them happened to be a girl.
But Andy, being who he was, could understand, intellectually, that they had no choice. But he didn't have to like it.
The first thing they did was to have Andy give his dad a crew cut with the scissors of his swiss knife. Not the best, but good enough to give him a somewhat ragged crewcut. He then dropped his dad near a nondescript motel with both of their backpacks
"Good morning," the lady manning the front desk said.
Bill Fayne smiled and nodded pleasantly. "Would you have two adjoining rooms available, with a door between them?"
The lady's eyebrows rose in a muted question.
"I'm picking up my daughter later, and we need a place to stay for a couple of days until our car is ready."
The lady nodded.
He laid down one of the Carson Nance credit cards - a Mastercard picture credit card. But before the woman could swipe his card, he held his hand up.
"On second thought," he said, "I think I'll pay in cash."
The motel proprietress glanced at his card. "Are you sure, Mr. Nance?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. We've been paying for stuff with my card for most of our road trip, I think I can pay for the rest in cash until we get home. How much for the rooms for a couple of days?"
"That'll be eighty dollars a day."
He took back the card and put down two hundred-dollar bills on the counter. He really had no intention of paying via credit card. He just wanted to make sure the woman knew he was legit, and that he was indeed Carson Nance.
After he dropped off their stuff in their rooms, he went and had breakfast at a small greasy spoon nearby that was next door to a small barber shop. As soon as the shop opened, he finished his breakfast and went in to have Andy's botched haircut fixed.
He then went to get some clothes for his "daughter" plus a semi-long blonde wig. As soon as he was done, he went to the place they decided to meet on the other side of the little burg that they were in, hoping that there was a bus stop near there.
Andy's morning was a little different. The first thing he did was to locate a safe but out-of-the-way parking space. He then used some rubbing alcohol and several rolls of toilet paper he got from a Seven-Eleven. He methodically rubbed down everything in the car that the two of them could conceivably have touched. Sure, some CSI guy could probably find something of theirs in it, but he wasn't gonna make it easy for them.
When he was done, he made sure that the car was parked properly, and then he locked it up. He dropped as many coins as he could into the parking meter, making sure he had wiped down the coins first, and then he wiped down the parking meter for good measure.
It was still early enough that no one was around so no one saw him. It'll be safe there for a while, but he was fairly sure it'll be stolen again, or it'll be spotted by police. But that was the plan.
He then walked to the agreed-upon place. He had to ask some people for directions a couple of times but, after an hour of walking, he found the place. After buying a couple of hotdogs and a coffee, he settled into the bus station bench. None of the people waiting for buses paid him any attention. After all, he was just a kid waiting for a bus, just like them. After another hour or so, his dad showed up.
"Hey, Dad." Dad gave him a hug and handed him a couple of bags full of clothes. Girl clothes.
"I kept it simple like you said," his dad said. "Just a t-shirt, jeans, underwear, socks and sneakers. All in Jane's sizes. I also told the saleslady our cover story. I even got her to help pick the stuff out" He handed him another bag, This one was bulky. "Here's something else I found."
"What is it?" Andy asked, and looked inside. It was a wig in a flat, cardboard box. He flipped the box over and saw some instructions. Good.
"I found it in a little hairdresser shop a few doors down from where I bought the clothes."
"What did you tell them?"
Dad shrugged. "I couldn't think up anything so I just bought it and left."
Andy thought that one over and shrugged. Nothing to be done about it now. "I spotted a station down the street," Andy said. "Gimme twenty minutes."
Dad nodded. He brought out a newspaper and started to read. He looked all throughout the paper, looking for some kind of mention of Maria and the house, but didn't find any. It was probably too late to make the paper.
People came and went, buses stopped and people got on. He was ignored. After maybe half an hour, he looked up. Incredibly, he saw Jane walking towards him with a sheepish grin on her pretty face, holding some plastic shopping bags, like she had been shopping again, as usual. It then clicked in his mind who it really was. He almost cried.
"Hey, Pops," Andy said, using Jane's pet name for her dad, in a voice that could almost be hers.
Dad stood and hugged Andy. Andy understood, and he hugged his dad back.
"I miss Janey, too, Dad," Andy said softly.
The other people politely ignored them and they slowly walked away, Dad's arm thrown casually over Andy's shoulder
"I can't believe how good you look," Dad said. "You even sound like her."
Andy shrugged. "Bess did say we looked enough like each other that we could almost be twins."
"That's for sure."
Andy squirmed a bit. "The wig feels hot, the panties don't have enough material to cover much of anything, and the bra itches."
"Well, at least you fill your bra out nicely," Dad laughed.
"They're full of toilet paper, okay? In fact, I had to use up one whole toilet paper roll..." Dad grinned.
"Oh, Janey," Andy moaned, "why'd you have to be a c-cup?" Dad laughed again.
"Andy," Dad said, "you better quit that, or else you'll get me belly laughing and I won't be able to stop."
Andy smiled a bit. "Okay, Dad, I'll try. But, y'know, I think we should start getting in character."
"What do you mean?"
"We aren't Andy and William Fayne anymore."
Dad became serious and nodded.
"Okay, then," he said. "From now on, you're Andrea and I'm Carson."
"I think Andrea sounds too formal. I should have something that sounds more casual."
"Well, what would you like me to call you, then?"
"Lemme think about it," the new Andrea said.
Five: Putting The Plan Into Action
Carson Nance, the former William Fayne, thought it would be hard to get used to his new "daughter," but it turned out not to be the case. When he looked at her, she reminded him of Jane. Even down to the mannerisms, movement and voice, This new "girl" echoed his beloved niece, although he knew Andy was doing it all very consciously. And during the false notes that inevitably came out when he forgot or got it wrong, his "former" son would shine out, especially when he did one of those amazing feats of mental sleuthing that made Andy such an asset to the police. In that way, Andrea was like a mix of both Andy and Jane. Which "Carson" liked.
"Andrea" was telling him they needed a computer to open the hard drive, and to maybe surf the net. The natural thing to do was to buy one, but "she" said that wasn't a good idea since it would leave an electronic trail back to them. They randomly took a bus and kept their eye out for a pawn shop. Pawn shops were the ideal place to buy untraceable second-hand stuff. "Andrea" soon spotted one, the "Gold and Silver Pawn Shop," and they got off the bus.
Carson was amazed at how well Andrea flirted with Corey, the son of the shop owner, so very like Janey, and she was able to get a year-old used HP netbook for only a hundred and fifty, until Rick, the owner, came over. Carson was worried when the guy took over the haggling from his son, but he needn't have worried. Andrea was able to bring down the price further, to just a hundred dollars, and got a little wireless router included in the package as well.
Carson was amazed at how effortlessly Andrea played the two men. But then this was his super-genius son. And that brain, combined with Janey's looks and flirty demeanor - well, everyone better watch out!
They had a leisurely lunch at a Bennigan's, where Andrea put on another show for Carson, charming the pants of the wait-staff, and completing the picture of the hip teenage girl by ordering half a chicken breast, a small caesar salad and an iced tea instead of Andy's usual humungous order and large Pepsi. Carson had a beer and a huge "knife and fork" reuben sandwich.
They then went clothes-shopping. Carson concluded that Andy had never seen how Janey shopped. In her "Andrea" persona, she still shopped like Andy - all meticulous planning and judicious selection. Not like a girl who loved to shop. It put off the salesgirl a little bit but in the end, Andrea ended up with a nice selection of teenage clothes, a small makeup kit and a toiletry kit. Carson asked her how come she knew so much about clothes. She explained that all she did was think of the outfits that Andy saw Janey in, and copied those.
They then went to a thrift store and bought a selection of cute but well-worn clothes. Andrea explained that these would be her "favorite" outfits.
It was getting late and they were so tired they decided to get sone takeout and risked taking a cab back to the motel. It was just as well - Carson wondered how they'd be able to get on the bus with all of these bags.
Back at the motel, they dumped all of their purchases on Andrea's bed, and Carson took a quick shower. When he was done, he went to his "daughter's room and saw that all of the purchases that they made had all been unwrapped and packed away in her backpack, and her old clothes were now neatly folded and were in the bags the other stuff used to be in. Andrea was just finishing her burger and fries. Carson nodded at her efficiency.
Seeing that it was her turn, she picked up a towel and went into the bathroom that they shared, and took a half hour to shower. She called through the bathroom and asked if she could borrow her dad's razor. Carson sheepishly stuck his hand through the door and handed her the razor and a small can of shaving cream.
"Don't tell me what you'll be shaving, okay?" Carson called.
"I wasn't planning to," Andrea answered back.
"On second thought, you can keep that razor. I'll buy a new one."
When she came put, she was gingerly toweling her "hair" which had gotten damp in the shower, and she wore a loose t-shirt (Carson remembered Janey referring to it as a "sleep shirt"), shorts and flip-flops. Carson had to admit that she was really going all out in the disguise, and he said so.
"Practice makes perfect," Andrea said, and gave him a sad smile.
Carson stood and gave "her" a hug. She hugged him back. Carson felt some tears on his shoulder but didn't comment.
"We'll make it through this," he said into "her" ear. "And we'll catch the bastards who killed Dave, Janey and Maria. We will."
Andrea nodded against his shoulder. She pulled away and searched for some tissues. "Carson" smiled. Does she even know how close to Janey she's behaving, he mused.
"I've been thinking of that nickname," Carson said.
"How does 'Drew' sound? It's near enough to 'Andrew' and is sort of a match for 'Andrea,' yet it sounds different enough that people won't automatically connect it to 'Andy.'"
"'Drew,'" she went, sounding it out. "'Drew'... hmmm. I like it, Dad. Classy." She grinned, a smile that was all Andy. "Okay, from now on, I'll be Drew." She gave Dad another hug.
He was surprised at that - a behavior which was far from Andy's, but very appropriate for a teenage girl. Andy's really getting into this role, he thought. Andy was probably doing the Al Pacino-Robert deNiro method acting thing, and burying 'herself' in the part. So typically Andy - all or nothing. And who knows, his, I mean 'her,' thoroughness might even save us. So, I think I'd better start keeping up with 'her' and start thinking of her as Drew.
Six: Getting Used To Drew
They stayed in the motel for three days, studying all the paperwork that Dave had for "The Plan," and trying to reconstruct the fictitious life of Carson Nance and his daughter, Andrea that Dave had created.
There was a driver's license for Carson, which was soon to expire. So that meant his birthday was coming up. Drew dug a bit further under the pile and found both of their birth certificates as well as other papers.
Based on the papers, Carson graduated from Brooklyn Law School and had worked for years at what William Fayne knew used to be one of New York's best law firms, but everyone connected to it had perished in the 9/11 disaster. Since then, Carson had apparently stopped practicing law. Such convenient facts made their claims difficult to double-check.
Andrea, on the other hand, was not as well-credentialed. Given her school equivalency certifications in the pile, she seemed to have been home-schooled her whole life, although she did take a high school driver's ed class (she had a still-valid learner's permit and a New York DMV Driver Education Certificate). She was also born in the same year as Jane, making her sixteen, as opposed to Andy, who was a year older.
They also found out that they used to live in New York's upper east side, in an apartment complex that had completely burned down last year because of faulty wiring. Another convenient fact that again made their claims hard to verify.
Carson had written down most of their "findings" and conclusions. Being a lawyer made such things easy for him. It was almost like doing research for a civil case.
The following day, after dropping off Andy's clothes at a Salvation Army store, they went to a coffee house that had free wifi. Drew surfed the net as she sipped her venti caramel frappe, double-checking all of the supposed facts in what she had come to think of as their "dossiers," as well as valuated their "portfolio" of stocks and bonds. And while she did so, Carson had started "touching up" their histories, adding details that may come in handy in the future.
Carson couldn't help but look at his new daughter as she worked on the little laptop. She was unconsciously playing with the ends of the wig, and would occasionally bite on the pen she kept twirling in her hand. Perhaps, Carson thought, in a different context, such behavior would not have looked so girlish, but the fact that Drew had worn such a short skirt with her short-sleeved blouse, newly-shaven legs on display, she looked awfully femininely cute.
Carson also had to smile as some kids tried to chat her up but she absentmindedly brushed them aside as she worked. Andy had that obsessive streak in him, especially when he was trying to finish something, that would shut everything out, and Drew seemed to have "inherited" that streak. For the more persistent boys, Carson's stern "dad stare" chased them off. He chuckled. Never in a million years did he think he'd have to protect his child against unwanted amorous advances.
Though he didn't really want to admit it, he was actually getting used to Drew, and was starting to like the cute sixteen-year-old, almost as much as he loved seventeen-year-old Andy. Carson found it weird that, in his head, he thought of Drew and Andy as separate people. But, looking at Drew with the long blonde hair and the short skirt as she twirled her hair and coquettishly sipped her drink through a straw, he couldn't really connect her to Andy. Who could blame him, he thought.
By lunchtime, Drew had finished her research and she cajoled Carson into splurging for a nice meal at a fancy restaurant they had seen nearby. Carson found it funny to be paying so much for one quarter of a chicken breast and green salad, but he decided that he didn't really mind, so long as Drew was happy. He ordered a big steak, potatoes and onion soup for himself.
After lunch, they took a bus to the motel this time, and talked over the material that Drew dug up.
As best as she could find out, Drew confirmed most of the facts in their "dossiers" and the rest of the information was nonexistent or at least non-traceable. Also, per her research, the pile of stock certificates that they had now totaled in value somewhere in the area of four million dollars. At least. It was a huge sum, and it probably accounted for Dave's and Jane's entire life savings and investments.
William and Andy Fayne were also well off (or at least used to be well off) - the Faynes came from old money - so Drew was not fazed by this windfall. But for Carson, it took away a large worry from his mind. Despite the fact that he had close to ninety thousand in cash liberally distributed in his pants, shorts and socks, Carson was worried about their future, since all of their property and finances were now beyond their reach. But, with careful husbanding, this new windfall should see them through.
Drew had done further research. She discovered that the investigating officer for the skip-trace for the dead employees of Carson's company, and the investigating officer for that apartment fire was one Lieutenant Frank Hardy, a police lieutenant from New York's upper east side. She told her dad that it was her opinion that this man was probably the person that helped Uncle Dave set up "the plan." With this, she told him her idea on their next step.
Seven: Lives Up In Smoke
Frank Hardy had just finished his shift at a stakeout and had filed his report a few minutes ago. All he wanted now was to fall into his bed and sleep for at least twelve hours. As he was getting ready to leave, his desk phone rang.
"Hardy," he said tersely over the phone.
"Lieutenant," the desk sergeant said, "there's someone here to see you. Says he's an old friend. He says his name's Carson Nance."
Good god, it's David Fayne, he thought. "I'll be right down," he said.
"Hey, Jer," Hardy said to the desk sergeant. "Someone was looking for me?"
The sergeant pointed to a person standing by the wanted posters. He looked. That's not Dave, he thought. He looks similar, but that's not Dave.
The guy came over, arm outstretched for a handshake.
"Good evening, Lieutenant Hardy," Carson said. "Glad to finally meet you. My friend Dave told me to look you up when I got back in town..."
"What?" Hardy said, a bit confused. "But... but..."
"Why don't we have a cup of coffee?" the man claiming to be Carson Nance said pleasantly, but his hand on Hardy's elbow was very insistent. "I'd like to introduce you to my daughter, Andrea."
Hardy had started to worry. But he was a tough old gumshoe. He shrugged and thought, so long as it's a public place, this joker can't do much.
They went to a small diner half a block away where they met up with "Andrea." From there, they explained who they were and the circumstances that brought them here. Frank was shocked. Apparently, he was Dave's partner in their schemes to bring down corporate criminals, and he knew that there was something big that Dave was working on. He was devastated that Dave died doing a job that he was supposed to be doing.
Frank invited the two of them to his apartment to continue the discussion. When they had settled down to a nice Chinese takeout dinner, Frank told them what he had done for Dave, and how bulletproof he had tried to make their cover. Drew agreed with te bulletproof aliases, and explained what she had uncovered, which impressed Frank.
"I think you'd make a great detective."
Drew ducked her head and blushed. "Thank you," she said shyly.
Frank went on a little further. "You know," He said, "the cover's not too perfect yet. I have to fix the fingerprints on file for Carson and Andrea Nance, replace them with yours, and then track down your old fingerprint records and replace them with bogus prints."
"Isn't that difficult to do?" Drew asked.
"Well, not really," he answered, "not if you know what you're doing. I used to be part of the Witness Protection Program. Can I see your IDs, by the way?"
Though a little puzzled, Carson handed over Drew's learner's permit and his driver's license.
Frank looked at them. "Thought so," he said, and handed them back.
At their puzzled looks, Frank explained. "It's just that you don't look like your pictures. At least not exactly..."
"Which means... you may need some plastic surgery."
They both looked dismayed.
"Can't you just fix the pictures?" Drew asked. "Like the fingerprints?"
"Well, pictures are a bit harder to change, though not impossible. But that's not the main reason for the plastic surgery. Whatever your records, the people that knew you before will still recognize you. So, to avoid that..."
Father and daughter looked at each other. Drew shrugged, and Carson spoke to Frank.
"We're okay with that," he said "We'll do what's needed. But nothing major - just enough so we'll look like our new pictures."
Frank smiled a bit. "Okay," he said. "Did you know that Jane was the one who came up with those alterations?" He gestured to the IDs.
Drew nodded. "I know," she said.
A few hours later, they found themselves in a large apartment in Queens. The front living room looked faintly like Monica's and Rachel's apartment in the TV show "Friends" but two of the bedrooms were outfitted as modern surgical theaters, and the third one was like a small dormitory with two three-bed bunk beds against two of the walls, a bank of dressers on the other, and a large walk-in closet on the wall across. The entire apartment had no windows.
"Welcome to the country's most expensive small clinic," Frank said. "This is your doctor," he introduced a man in a golf shirt and slacks. "You can call him 'Joe,' though almost everyone calls him 'Doc,' and this is Sally, his personal assistant and nurse." The girl he introduced would have been pretty, except for the over-botoxed lips and the humungous breasts.
"Some free advice - the Doc and Sally are completely on our side, but it's best not to inquire too closely about them. Like Dave used to say, 'ignorance is bliss.'"
So the both of them underwent plastic surgery in the ersatz apartment. They both had rhinoplasty, and both their noses were changed to become thinner. Drew's was bobbed just a tiny bit. But whereas Carson had his eyes changed to look less round, Drew had surgery on her cheeks - she was given a pair of cute dimples, and small cheek implants were put in. And that was it.
Because of the relatively simple surgery, they only needed about two weeks to heal, although they stayed a total of three weeks to heal completely. In the end, they looked very close to their pictures. Carson looked like a very sharp guy, his sharp nose and angled eyes giving him a slightly predatory look that implied toughness and quick action. Drew's new look made her so much more adorable-looking than Jane ever was, but if Andy felt bad about his new look, Drew never let it show. Her dad could see the signs, but he was so proud that he never let on that he knew. Once, he said that he was so proud of her/him for doing all this, and promised, as soon as the people who had killed Jane were caught, they'll go back to the way they used to be.
Drew just hugged her dad, gave him a daughter's kiss on the cheek, and whispered, "let's talk about it when it's over, okay, Dad? Just don't worry about me. I'm okay."
Dad just hugged her back. "I love you, you know?" he whispered back, and wiped away her tears.
The doc asked Drew, after her surgeries were done and she was on her way to recovery, if she would like to have the entire thing be done as well. He looked down at her lower body.
"No way in hell!" Drew screamed in a very Andy kind of voice, but then she stopped short.
She thought a bit. She was damned sure she didn't want her... plumbing changed, but she was open to getting whatever else was necessary to make her look closer to a real girl. "Well... maybe a boob job will help..."
So that was how she went from being flat-chested to having natural-looking small c-cup boobies. And while that was done, she also asked the doc to do some liposuction on her. When she healed, she developed something that was suggestive of an hourglass figure - not really, but good enough to make her sexy with the appropriate clothes. At least she thought so. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she had no trouble thinking that she wouldn't mind dating a girl like her. Except for the fact that she looked too much like Jane.
Sally was disappointed that Drew didn't go for the complete... package, but she helped her by giving a few pointers on female deportment. She advised her on diet (if she didn't, the lipo would have just been a waste) and other little things connected to girls' preferences for food. She also showed Drew to use exfoliant and liberal amounts of lotion to keep her skin soft (rough skin was not something girls were known for), and taught her how to properly shave the parts of her that girls liked to have free of hair.
Makeup, hairstyles and clothes combinations, as well as maintaining a female tremolo to her voice didn't seem to be a problem for her (thanks to the observant nature that she "inherited" from Andy) but the natural, automatic feminine word-inflections and cadence of speech she learned from Sally - the basics, at least: there was hardly time to learn everything. But Sally said she would improve with practice.
By that time, Frank had completed the modifications to their fingerprints, and they had healed enough that they could leave the so-called clinic anytime. That, and their new looks gave Carson the impetus to go out and start the next step of Drew's plan.
First thing that they did was to buy a house. Drew researched the available houses in the best middle-class communities in New York, and she was able to find a nice, fifteen-year-old three-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-car garage house in a very upscale neighborhood in Staten Island, modestly priced at four hundred thousand. Carson started the ball rolling on selling a couple of the certificates. After two days, and payment of the broker's and tax fees, they had more than enough for the fifty percent deposit.
In a week, they had moved in and furnished the place with pricey, second-hand furniture and brand-new appliances, giving their new home the feel of a classy, lived in but well-kept home. Drew even went to some thrift shops and bought old trophies and other knick-knacks to lay around the living area, to make their house feel more authentic - tacky stuff like bowling trophies and the like for Carson, and she got some fake awards for gymnastics and dance, even a few spelling bee awards for her. Drew made sure that nameplates, tags and labels were all generic enough that there were no specific names, dates or places. She even printed up various "awards" and certificates on her printer that she mounted in certain "strategic" places. There were no pictures, though - that couldn't be helped - but she did her best.
The next thing they did was to renew Carson's driver's license and for Drew to take her driver's test. Now both of them had real driver's licenses with their new-real faces with Richmond County, Staten Island addresses.
They then bought a couple of used cars - Carson settled for a sporty, two-year-old 6-series BMW. Drew trawled the net and decided on a blue 2005 two-door Opel Tigra Twin Top. Girly enough for someone like Drew, but offbeat enough that Andy's nerdy-individualistic sensibilities were satisfied. Carson then cashed another certificate and opened new bank accounts and credit cards for the both of them. Using these cards and their bank accounts as references, they got a few more credit cards.
Carson then started the process of enrolling Drew in a good public school. This time, she would be a junior instead of a senior. But that's how it goes.
All of this was expensive, tedious and a little bit painful because, with each prop, each new piece of furniture or appliance, it was like replacing parts of their lives with something that was a fake, or at best, something new that had no connection to them. The most painful part was when they destroyed the last of their personal stuff - Andy's and Bill Fayne's pictures, IDs and other things identifiable with their old lives. Drew had wanted to keep a few pictures and medallions that were dear to her, but Carson insisted that they get rid of everything. As the last of their pictures burned in the backyard barbecue, father and new-daughter held each other with tears in their eyes, and watched the last of their former lives go up in smoke.
"Guess this is it, honey," Carson said, as he hugged his new daughter around the waist with one arm, and used a fireplace poker to make sure the rest of it was completely burned up.
Drew put her head on her dad's shoulder, and savored the word, "honey," turning it over in her head. She decided that she liked it. She kissed her dad on the cheek and went back into the house.
"I feel like eating out," she said cheerily before she stepped through the kitchen door. "How about we try that lobster place we saw yesterday?"
Carson nodded. "Sounds good to me," he answered. He tipped a glass of water into the remaining embers in the grill (safety first, he thought) and followed his daughter into their house.
Eight: School Again
Drew pulled into the school's parking lot. It was her first day in her new school. Like a cliche girl, she had spent hours agonizing over what to wear. She actually hadn't had much sleep over worrying about her first day.
She was glad Dad knew Jane's measurements (he had undoubtedly helped Uncle Dave buy stuff for Jane before) since she was exactly the same size. Now, all her girl clothes were in the correct sizes for her. Drew regretted trying to match Jane's sizes so closely. She didn't realize how... inconvenient breasts can be. Thinking back, she might have done better getting smaller breasts, or even no breasts at all. Ah, well. If Jane could do it, she could do it, too.
In the end, she had worn a short-sleeved magenta jacket over a sleeveless silk-like ivory top with muted pastel flowers, and had partnered them with navy blue shorts and purple strappy heels. It was an outfit that Jane would have worn, and she hoped she did her justice.
When they had settled into their new house, Drew had taken the bus to the city where she and her dad had hatched the plan. She had gotten three more wigs, some wig stands, wig shampoo and other wig paraphernalia. (Her cover was that the wigs were for her sister who was recovering from chemotherapy) But she had resolved that, as soon as her hair was long enough, she'll get rid of the wigs.
She had just settled her new Opel into her assigned parking spot when she heard someone call out, "Hey!"
She looked at her rearview and saw a big guy leaning out of a Ford F150, gesticulating wildly.
"Goddamn it!" he yelled. "That's my parking space. Move your fuckin' crate outa my parking space!"
Drew took a deep breath. Okay, she said to herself, this is it - showtime.
She opened her door, stuck one shapely, clean-shaven leg out, paused for effect for a second, and then stepped onto the parking lot asphalt. "Excuse me?" she said. She walked to the guy's car, deliberately swinging her liposuction-enhanced curves.
The guy looked at her, with eyes that were about to fall out. "Ummm..."
Drew walked up to the guy's car door, her books coquettishly in front of her. She was at once being demure and alluring.
"Ummm.... parking... you... my slot... ummm... mine?"
Drew giggled, hiding her smile behind a hand mock-shyly. "But this is my space." She showed the piece of paper the school office gave her. "See?"
"Ummm.... but... well..." The guy suddenly realized how he was starting to sound. He sighed. "Okay. Your spot. I'll find another."
Drew smiled at him sweetly.
"Thank you..." the guy said, and watched her go, eyes again about to fall out.
"Byeeee..." Drew said and gave him a finger wave.
As Drew walked up the steps to the front entrance to the school, she saw a couple of cute girls.
"Hi," she said.
"Hi," the taller girl answered and gave her a smile.
The two of them started walking with her.
"That was great, the way you handled Ned," the other girl said. "It was amazing, actually," she giggled.
"Ned Nickerson? The big jock in the parking lot?"
"Oh! Him!" And the three of them giggled.
"You got him eating out of your hand!" she said, and started to imitate the guy's voice. "Ummm.... parking... you... my slot... ummm... mine?" She made her voice ridiculously low.
The three of them giggled again.
"Him Tarzan, you Jane," the other girl said, also in a low voice, and they all giggled again.
"My name's Andrea, by the way," Drew said. "Andrea Nance. But people call me Drew."
"Hi, Drew, My name's Iola Morton," the shorter, cuter girl said. "This is my best friend, Callie Shaw."
"Hi." There were handshakes all around.
"Listen," Drew said, "I have to go to the office and do some stuff. Maybe we can meet up later?"
"Sounds good," Iola said. "We'll meet you at lunchtime."
Drew looked at the two girls. On impulse, she hugged each girl in turn.
"It's good to make new friends," Drew said. She gave them a finger wave and walked down the hallway towards the school's administrative office. Her new friends smiled in surprised delight,
Kids stopped to take a look at the new student, especially the boys.
Phil Cohen, one of the more notorious of the detention kids, turned to his buds. "Watch out, dudes," he said, "new mega-babe in the house." He gave an appreciative whistle as Drew walked by, and got a reprimand from the school coach.
"Behave yourself, Mr. Cohen," Coach Fenton warned.
"Oops... sorry, Coach."
- - - - -
Drew walked into the school admin office for her welcome-to-school interview, and the school principal's secretary greeted her.
"Hello," the secretary said. "You must be Andrea Nance, our new student."
"Yes, I am, but please call me Drew."
"Okay, Drew. Have a seat over there with the other students. I'll call you when the boss is ready for you."
Drew nodded and found a seat among the kids sitting on the bench. She nervously smiled at everyone and fidgeted under the interested gaze of the kids that surrounded her, but as she waited, the others introduced themselves.
Drew smiled in relief as the guys seemed very friendly, but they weren't too chatty - they were in the principal's office after all, and you normally don't go to the principal's office unless you were in trouble.
As she waited to be called, she had time to muse, about the dips and turns her life had taken so far, especially the last couple of months. The fact that she now thinks of herself as a "her" made her think how far her new life was from her old one, and what it took to get here.
As her bench-mates got called in one by one, she thought of their murdered housekeeper, who was sort of like a surrogate mother to her, and her dead uncle an beloved cousin. If Jane could see her now, she thought, and smiled sadly.
But one needs to move forward. First things first, though - get a handle on the school situation, and how to handle life as a teenage girl. As Andy, he had just started dating. As Drew, she wondered. that Iola seemed pretty interesting... And then she needed to help dad get that job in that company that was mentioned in a lot of in the files that were in Uncle Dave's hard drive. After all, that was what all of this was about - get some solid evidence together and catch the ones responsible for the death of Jane, Uncle Dave and Maria. Though she couldn't be everyone's boy sleuth anymore, she was sure she could be the school's new girl detective. Which reminded her - she hadn't seen any of the latest books from James Ellroy or David Peace in a while. Maybe she can ask her new friends later where the good bookstores were around here. Maybe she can even build her collection of Nancy Drew books back up again.
New beginnings, she mused. Such wonderful, scary things...
"Drew," the principal's secretary called. "Miss Nance! Nance, Drew! The principal will see you now."
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