VII

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The place was quiet, outside of his shallowing breathing, perfect for what they needed to accomplish. The giant stood nearby, preparing himself for the next round of punishment.
Martin was fading in and out of consciousnes. He had been their hostage for about 8 or 9 hours and he was ready for them to kill him. The man that worked him over never said a word to him; just constant torture. He used his ribcage as a punching bag, broke bones, and even sliced into his skin with a surgical scalpel. Begging and pleading fell upon deaf ears: he wasn’t the person in charge.

Fair skinned and prison built, he approached Martin and looked him over. Martin’s left eye was swollen but he used his good eye to get as many details about the man as possible, if there was a good chance they would let him go. The man stepped closer before he began to speak. “Detective Velez…I’m truly sorry about for the theatrics of our first meeting. However, it’s come to my attention that you may have information about some recent thefts from my business.” Martin was confused: he’d never skimmed from someone who ran a legitimate business. This had to be the boss of one of the knuckleheads he’s arrested. Now that he thought about it more, it was entirely possible that any one of the stacks of money hidden in his home belong to the man. “I run a business, Detective, and like any business, money is very important. Money is the entire point of all my hard work. So when I lose traction because of dirty cops, it makes things more difficult. My customers, my employees, my reputation are all sullied by things like raids, police investigations. I pay good money for these things to stay far away, which makes me think…you were provoked to follow up on my business.” Martin tried to speak but only blood dripped from his lips.

The man had approached him weeks ago. A close friend (and major campaign contributor) of the District Attorney, he pulled him aside ad presented him with an “opportunity”. He’d heard that Martin was a man of integrity and needed his assistance cleaning up some of the scum on the street. A money house had been set up somewhere in town by a rising power in the drug world and Martin had the rare, “career making” opportunity to take this power out at the knees. The man almost mentioned that he was good friends with a judge who would be very cooperative in assisting on the case. A warrant for the house arrived by courier at the station an hour later. A burner phone was attached to the message, with one number stored. Martin left those small tidbits out of the conversation when he alerted him of the warrant and he never asked. McLaren had set him up for the theft.

Lurch punched Martin in his stomach again, breaking another rib under his massive fist. “He…he told me his name was McLaren. That’s it. He gave me a burner phone. His number is stored,” Martin said, nodding at his belongings on the table nearby. Lurch retrieved the flip phone and searched for the number and nodded slightly when it was found. Roman’s forehead furrowed with confirmation. He nodded to his henchmen to release their prisoner. His own weight crumpled him to his knees. “I want to thank you, Detective, for your cooperation,” Roman said, before putting three bullets into Martin’s head.

The phone chirped when Alice was in close proximity. She had almost forgotten about the ‘Find My iPhone’ app and that she had added Andrew’s phone to it. The building was small, commercial, an art gallery. What the hell is he doing here? she thought, putting her car in park across the street. Glancing up to the second story windows, she spotted Andrew emerge from another room, brushing his teeth. Someone lived there and Andrew had stayed the night. Has he been here the whole time? she thought. The woman who appeared into view was a shock. She said something funny to Andrew and he laughed.
Alice faced forward and held onto the steering wheel. She let out two deep breaths, trying to calm herself. She questioned if Andrew was cheating on her. Logically, she knew that if he had, it was just retaliation. She had been having her own affair for nearly a year. Getting upset would only cloud the situation more. But who is this chick??? Andrew wasn’t the type to pick up random women, especially for sex, so she had to have been in his life, somewhere. Was she a friend he neglected to introduce? Did she work at the station?  Alice looked over at the building again to see the girl on the first floor, flipping over the sign in the window to ‘Open’. She wanted to go inside and beat the answer from them both, but she just switched gears and left.

“I’m gonna take your advice. Hear Alice out and make my decision then,” Andrew said, coming down the stairs. Desiree’s breath got caught in her throat when she saw a glimpse of his bare torso as he slipped into his shirt. She took a swig of her coffee from her mug to gather herself. She was happy for Andrew and his attempt at making his marriage work, but pangs of jealousy still stabbed her deeply. Here was one of the most honest men she had ever met and his wife was an adulterous bitch. “Well…good luck,” she said, forcing a smile. “You know where I am if you need to talk or…whatever.” Andrew kissed her forehead and walked out of the door. Desiree took a second to pray that he would come back.

She didn’t mean to drive to her house but it was the only place she thought to go. With all the confusion with her husband, Jackie was the refuge Alice had chosen once before. Prior to the sex, Alice considered her a good friend. Instead of the silver BMW she drove, a black sedan was parked outside the house, obviously belonging to the two men who were walking from the porch. Alice met them on the sidewalk and sized them up as cops. “Hey, what’s going on?” The duo pulled and flashed her their badges; their shields matched the one her husband had wore everyday. “Detective Knowles and Teller, ma’am. Do you know Jacqueline Meyers?” Teller, the tall blonde, said.
“Yes. We…work together.” The detectives exchanged looks before the second began. “We’re very sorry to inform you but Miss Meyers was murdered. Her body was discovered this morning.”
“When is the last time you spoke to or saw Miss Meyers?” Teller asked. “Almost a week ago…I took some time off work…”
“Is it possible that you follow us to the station so we can ask you some questions?” Knowles asked gently. Alice nodded her head slowly and turned to get back in her car.

She couldn’t tell if Jackie’s death was an omen or karma knocking on her door.

 

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