A Not So Safe House
The woman was furtively pacing back and forth on the sidewalk.
Had she not made a false start toward the house,and likely, the front door, she wouldn't have tripped the proximity alarm. I would have been alerted later by the male creeping up toward the back deck and door eventually.
What in the world were they planning? They didn't look like operatives. Home invasion? Probably. This was an unlikely neighborhood, but desperation makes people do unlikely things. The house on the left was 'occupied'. Had a couple of vehicles parked out front appearing to be on their last legs. The house on the right was boarded up, or so it seemed. Many a homeless person had wasted their energy trying to get in. Feeling sorry for them, I would call a deputy who would transport them to a homeless shelter in the city.
I caught sight of a third person on the perimeter out front.
How was this going to play out? I felt a bit sorry for them. I had an older car out front, but appeared to be in good shape. The handicapped plate was not a ruse. I could still perform my primary job. My next evaluation was over eight months away.
The woman headed toward the front door. She was emoting terror, wailing as she approached. She wasn't doing a half bad job. She was loud enough, I guess, to alert the man in back. She started to pound on the front door.
My voice startled her.
“My dear what is the problem?”
She couldn't see a speaker, so she just yelled in the direction of the door, “He's trying to kill me!”
“Oh, my. We can't let that happen. Just give me a moment. I'm not as fast as I used to be.” Which was true. I suppose she was to gain entry and then slip to the back. Upon finding the door, she would likely let that accomplice in.
I tried to calm her, assuring her I was on my way. In the meantime, I swiftly moved to the back door.
“Please, stop, sir,” I asked in a low but firm voice.”
He was a bit beefy. Not much taller than I. I startled him. I had hoped he would turn and run. I guess the open door behind me was too tempting. He tried to tackle me. He might have been a football player in high school or maybe college.
He didn't really hear the first shot. He just saw splinters kicked up in the deck in front of him. He made the additional mistake of raising his shoulders, then with single mindedness continued to run at me. The next two shots hit him squarely in the chest. The fourth hit him in the head. It was not my intent, but he stumbled at the last second.
The two out front were not alerted as the suppressor did its job. I'm sure they were wondering what was taking me so long.
I quickly dialed for a clean up crew. Then, I alerted my associates next door to pick up the second man out front as soon as the woman was let inside my abode.
I made it to the front door just as the woman was showing visible signs of indecision. She should have gone with her gut.
“I'm sorry, my dear, I'm just not as fast, as I said. Where is your boyfriend?”
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” she was effusive and trying to make her way in.
“Oh,” I startled her again. “He must have heard your voice on your speaker system. He's still out there. He seems to be waiting.” She was having trouble shifting gears between stage panic and participating in a reasoned conversation.
I wasn't going to make it easy on her. “Do you think he might wish to come in and join you? You know, maybe some coffee. A moment to clear each others heads. It might save you future grief.”
“I've seen him do this before. I thought he would treat me different.”
“Would you like to come in? I can call the sheriff's department.”
“Yes, I would, but no, don't call the police, at least not yet. If he has a chance to cool off, he might just leave.”
“You don't think he might follow you home?”
“Not likely. He's more of a “find a bar and drown his sorrows' guy. I found that out Friday. Could I get a drink of water?”
“That might be a problem at this juncture.”
She blinked her eyes trying to sort out what I was saying. Her gut was telling her 'the play' had gone south, but her brain was holding out it was still salvageable.”
“You might want to sit down.” I shifted my stance so the hand gun with suppressor was visible at my side.
She gasped and sat down. Tears welled up in her eyes. She covered her face and started moaning.
I went to the refrigerator. Pulled out a bottle of water. I then opened a cupboard and pulled down two glasses.
When I returned she was half out of the easy chair she had dropped in, ready to bolt.
I just shook my head slightly. She looked for the hand gun, but saw the water and glasses. She relaxed slightly.
I handed her a glass, juggled the other one and opened the bottle. I then poured some in my glass. I took it in one gulp and let her watch me. I filled her glass and handed her the bottle.
After a few tentative sips, she asked, “Where's Jake?”
“Which one is he?”
“He's the one I was supposed to let in by a back door.”
“He's resting, waiting for some associates of mine. They'll escort him to a nice place and leave him alone.”
“I was afraid you killed him. What about me and Billy?”
“He's not really. He said he needed a woman to help him and Jake get some money owed them. I could have really used the fifty bucks he promised.”
“Why didn't you take off? You gave yourself two chances.”
“What? You were watching me?”
“Not the whole time. You made a false start which alerted me. Jake would have tripped up anyway. You just beat him to it and gave me time to watch, figure out what might happen.
“You didn't answer my question.”
“True. Billy is with the gentlemen next door.”
“Is one of them's named Hector? Talks with an accent?”
“You saw Hector?”
“No, but that old pickup looks like one he drives.”
“That's what tipped your gut, then?”
“I guess so. He flirts a lot, but I've never heard a woman say she's actually went out with him.”
“Maybe, he's happily married.”
She mulled this over. “What happens to us? We all go together?”
“No. Each of you is going to take a trip. Each will go to a different destination.”
“Will we see each other again? I'd really rather not.”
“I suppose you could run into each other at some point in the future, but it's unlikely.”
“The folks picking us up going to kill us and dump us?”
“You're more likely to win the lottery than have one of my associates harm you.”
“What did we do?”
“Made some very poor choices.”
“If I told you, I'd have to kill you.”
She started to smile, then stopped. She saw I wasn't smiling. Her gasp was barely audible.
“Don't worry, we're the good guys, or at least, a majority of the American people think so.”
“You're a cop.”
She decided to stop talking.
There was a short, sharp rap at the front door. The woman jumped. I opened the door slightly.
“Jacob Hightower is in custody and en route to his destination. William Johnson is being escorted to his transport now. We'll be ready for Cynthia Bartholomew in ten minutes.”
I closed the door.
“Will I ever find out?”
After a pause, I answered,”Highly unlikely. I can tell you this. Your mistake, however grave it is, is going to provide you with transportation out of here far more comfortable than it would be in a couple of months.”
“If I try to tell somebody?”
“You'll find yourself among a few million displaced persons with not nearly as an amazing story as yours. They'll think you're exaggerating. “
“What do you mean?”
“You'll find out soon.”
Another short, sharp rap at the door.
“Good bye Cynthia.”