All things considered, Mr. Briggston is not the issue. Noah Black’s death needs to be solved, and it appears to be tied to Jamie Lewis’s death somehow. The crime lab can inform me of what we’re up against.
I head to the street corner and wait to cross. Cars whip past, the sound of their tires on the wet concrete steady and rhythmic. On the ground in the middle of the intersection, red and green lights reflect with their white counterparts, bringing to mind that Christmas song. What were those words? It matters, because I didn’t get Christmas this year.
Red and green lights. I gaze at the dark wet Christmas tree colors in the center of the black asphalt, straining to remember the song.
A metal object presses into my back. I jerk and try to see who’s there, but a mouth at my ear hisses, “Get in and you live.”
He pushes me toward the street where a car sits, door wide open, waiting to swallow me. Oh, Lord. I just needed five minutes to get to the station!
Of course I comply, sliding into the back seat.
My exit out the opposite side is blocked by a large man, staring out the window at the lights, probably thinking about Christmas too, even if Christmas was a few weeks ago.
I evaluate my situation. The guy on my left is in dreamland, but too huge to overpower. The guy who slips in at my right has a gun pointed at me, safety off.
The driver pulls away and in ten seconds we zoom past the police station, my backup, and all the evidence I need to solve this crime. I scratch the corners of my eyes, then try to get a look at the guy to my right.
He flicks the gun from me toward the front of the car. “Eyes stay forward.”
This time I hear a Russian accent.
Lord, get me out of this. I steady my thoughts and draw upon my training. Except that has slipped out of my head too, with the name of the Christmas song. So I ask, “What do you need from me?”
“No talk,” he answers.
Well, as long as I do what they say, I should stay alive. They seem more like errand boys than the boss of whatever police-kidnapping operation they’re in. I study the guy in the front seat. Are these the shooters? I’d hardly got a glimpse at them, but they very well may be.
Just my luck I decided to walk. Just their luck, they caught their fish.
But who knows? Just as easily, they could have followed me to the banker’s.
Pulling my legs together, I touch my ankle with the toe of my shoe. The holster and the bulk of my gun are certainly there. But I can’t work through a safe way to pull a gun, being surrounded like this.
I cross my arms over my chest and my left hand feels for my phone in my right coat pocket. It’s there. If I press hashtag 7, things will start happening.
“Hands front,” the guy says.
I keep my hands where they are. “It’s sure cold.” In my head I’m walking through how to press those two buttons sight unseen.
“Where are you taking me?” I shift, and my fingers dip into my pocket. “Are you the dopes that shot at me today? You blew out my car windows.”
We turn right off of Kennedy onto Manchester. We’re heading to a seedy part of town.
I tip my shoulders and reach further in, touching the corner of my phone. But which way is up?
“We not shoot at you. If we shoot at you, you be dead.”
My mind rushes to Nick in the hospital room. Are there more of these guys out there, trying for Nick now? Do they think he’s dead? Do they know where he is?
Of course they do. They knew where I was, so they know where he is. So either there are others after Nick, finishing him off, or they’ve set their sights on me. But why?
I shift my hips and arch my back, like I’m stretching, moving my left hand down into my pocket.
I score and shuffle the phone around with my fingers till I feel its smooth face and then realize I have to look at it to type those keys. Darn smart phones.
The car pulls off Manchester and into a large, pot-holed parking lot outside a warehouse. It always happens at a warehouse.
They unload me and the driver comes around to where I am. Yep. It’s the same guy.
“Ty proveril yego telefon?” he asks, patting down my pockets. He yanks out my phone, then drops it on the ground and heel-grinds it.
“Hey, I had pictures on that!”
He slaps my cheek.
Why a slap? Are these guys taking their cues from movies? Well, I have a few up my sleeve, too. “Can you at least give me my sim card? Come on, my daughter’s pictures are on there.” I cringe, realizing I might have exposed my weakness to them. They glance at each other, confused.
The amount of whine in my voice persuades the first guy to lean down toward the phone.
As his balance shifts, I knee him in the face. He collapses to the ground, hand on a bloody nose. At the same time, I grab the elbow of the man next to me, aiming the gun at the third guy while jabbing my elbow into this one’s liver. He winces enough for me to take control of the gun and I back away, aiming my gun back and forth at the three.
The third guy moves for his gun and I shoot the door of the car behind him. He raises his hands again.
Someone applauds. I aim the gun in that direction.
A large man in a black cap steps calmly in my direction.
With him are two riflemen.
I lower my gun. One click and another click come from behind me, guns engaging.
I toss the gun in front of me and it lands next to my phone, then I raise my hands. I really do have pictures on there. Pictures of the crime scene.
“Come, come, Detective Reynolds. Let us put all guns away. My children, put away your guns.” The guns are holstered, but the men stand in place, ready to take weapons out again, no doubt.
The approaching man is middle-aged, wearing a tan trench coat and pointy black shoes, shining in spite of the rain.
He picks up my phone and hands it to me. “Many apologies. I will get you a new one.”
I’m not sure if this man is a boa or a viper, lulling me with kindness or watching and ready to strike. But I feel I shouldn’t trust him.
He says something in Russian, and the men move away toward the warehouse.
“Mr. Detective Reynolds, I am Grigory Dmitrovich Braginsky, senior of operations at this electronics warehouse.” He thumbs at a very inactive-appearing building behind him. “You can call me Grigory.” The surrounding silence, the dim and broken streetlights, the broken pavement and dry grass sticking up throughout the parking lot speaks louder than his words.
I face lies every day. Separating truth from fiction is my full-time job. This guy’s fiction joined with the fact that the driver and his accomplice drove me off the road not two hours ago signal warning bells. I tip my chin to the right, and as I suspected, someone with a rifle stands just out of my peripheral.
But he’s not the only one who can move a conversation. “How can I help you, Mr. Grigory?” I need to distract him and figure out how to get out of here. The car to my left is the only one around.
The man blinks twice and says, “I wish to report a crime.” He motions for me to follow him into the warehouse.
This broken down warehouse cannot be what he claims it is. I’m walking to my death, and no one knows where I am.
On the ground to my left, I spy the car keys the driver dropped when I kneed him. I must decide.
Copyright 2021, Darlene N. Böcek