(another writing exercise)
I stand, wearing handcuffs, facing the desk sergeant here at the police station, who is asking me questions, and I’m trying to focus so I can answer. It’s 2AM, no rain in the forecast, yet I’m drenched. Now he’s talking again, “And how is it that we found this revolver in your pocket, yet you claim it’s not yours? And, about the bloody stains on your shirt sleeves? There was no victim in the apartment, so who’s blood is it? I’m sure there’s a very good reason for the $28,000 in blood-soaked bills you were carrying, so tell me. What is going on here?”
I wish I knew.
My day started well enough – breakfast with Amy at the Pancake House, followed by a nice drive in the country. I dropped her off over in Milbourn in time for her work, then I headed back to my place. I hiked up the four flights of stairs and almost collapsed through the door. I gotta quit smoking.
I had barely been on the couch for five minutes when somebody knocked on my door, very quietly. That’s odd, why so soft? Are they afraid I’ll hear, and come to the door? I didn’t bother to check the peephole, because they didn’t sound too threatening – I mean, do the bad guys peck on your door, or do they bang on it?
I opened the door to find Annette, my down-the-hall neighbor standing there, twisting her hands and looking worried. I stepped aside so she could come on in. I looked around in the hallway, didn’t see anyone lurking, so I closed the door and went to sit beside her on the couch.
“Annette, what’s the problem?”
She said, “Dave, I’m in a real jam. Can you spare me an hour or two tonight to take me down to the docks? I have to pick up a friend there, and I don’t have transportation, and cabs are so expensive….”
She said she’d be back around 9PM, and I said that would be fine, since I didn’t have to work tomorrow.
That evening we were driving slowly down dark, deserted streets, looking for an address. It was cold and foggy, which didn’t help us much. Again, she apologized, but I just replied, “Hey, now. What are friends for?” I guess friends are to take advantage of. Where in the hell were we, and what exactly were we doing here?
I pulled over to the curb and shut off the engine, then turned to her. “Annette, something seems kinda fishy, as they say here on the docks. What’s the deal?”
She broke into tears and began sobbing, squeezing out words between sobs, “They’ve got my little sister, and I had to come down here to bring the money.”
“Money, what money?”
“They called early this morning, told me that they had snatched Janie on her way to school, and that I had to bring $40,000 down here tonight or I’d never see her again.” I knew Tony, Annette’s ex, had been into some shady dealings, and now she might have to suffer for his mistakes.
“How does Tony figure in to this? Could he be behind it?” I was really having second thoughts about this whole enterprise now.
Just then, someone yanked the door open behind me and I fell out onto the street. Annette screamed, as someone else pulled her out the passenger door. I jumped up as quick as I could and attempted to take a fighting pose, but I was a second or two late. Whoever he was, he was quick – something slammed into the back of my head and I fell in a heap, losing consciousness on the way to the hard pavement.
I woke up, tied in a chair, soaking wet from the bucket of water that had just been thrown in my face. Annette was in a nearby chair, tied just as I was. Things didn’t look good. There was a hulk of a guy leaning down, peering into my face. “Hey, are you awake now, Sleeping Beauty? We got questions!” He slapped me, hard. It felt like all my teeth had come loose at once by that blow from his beefy fist.
The other guy was standing right behind Annette. He looked just like one of the gangsters who populated those black-and-white films from the 40’s, thin and twitchy. He had greasy black hair, was dressed in a cheap dark suit, and was sucking on a toothpick. The one who presently had most of my attention was wearing a mostly white suit, not counting the blood spatters that had presumably came from my recently-acquired bloody mouth. I couldn’t make out his face very well because of his wide-brimmed Panama hat.
Mr. Question Man leaned in again and got right in my face as he hissed, “Where’s the rest of the money? I looked in her purse, only found $28,000. What did you do with the other $12,000?”
I pulled back as far as my bonds let me, but I couldn’t dodge the incoming slap to the face. This guy really liked slapping people and, he was really good at it. I felt like my eyes were spinning in their sockets.
By this time I was bleeding all over myself as well as on his suit, and was not sure I could have spoken to him if I wanted to, with my lips swelling up so badly. I tried.
“What money are you talking about? I’m just the driver here. And, where’s the girl, Janie?” I closed my eyes. It didn’t keep him from hitting me again.
Just then the door burst open and four uniformed policemen came rushing into the room. Both the bad guys were thrown up against the wall and held at gunpoint. A man in a suit had just come in behind the officers and introduced himself as a detective, as he was freeing us from our ropes. He had apparently found Janie in an adjoining room, and she stared at me, quivering with fright.
He was saying, “You two come with me – we’ve got questions, and we’re going to the station. You’re lucky we were watching this place, or you might be floating in the harbor right now.”
I thanked him profusely, because I wasn’t sure how I was going to end this story if they hadn’t arrived.
What a relief!