No one ever thinks about what happens to an Army stranded in battle AFTER their war general is met with a bullet to the head… Or in this case, a few gashes in the chest.
The aftermath of such an event often leaves a much more direct punch into the core of the issue than what came before it… But it also lets you draw out the people hiding behind that general’s lead to show you EXACTLY who and what they are.
In my defense, I have never known any greater challenge then dealing with an organization handling the transportation of individuals unfortunate enough to find themselves held captive within the restrictions of those that paid for them, so I could be getting myself into waters neck-deep here…
But when you don’t have a leader, you often find yourself in the dilemma of dealing with their second-in-command. And in Warren Duane’s case, he had many great candidates to choose from. People who knew how to disappear and make others do the same, people that knew exactly how to spin someone around their finger, and people that knew exactly which correct connections to make to ensure any future plans go according to the exact guidelines they’re supposed to.
However; regardless of whom it may be that any entity chooses to success their leader… This new generation of army general is bound to, in one way or another, get… sloppy.
And when the head of your organization is a rich, powerful and extraordinarily bland businessman found brutally murdered in the backbone of New York’s most rigid environments...
Emotions tend to take precedent over professionalism.
That’s where you come into play, Lieutenant Devine… Storming through the front door and up to the secretary’s desk demanding to speak to Alec Cerine.
“Right this way, sir.”
Oh, Jennifer. How you have no clue about the events directly unfolding beneath your nose I have no idea. But… I’m hoping you’re at least smart enough to realize that something fishy is underway here.
Marching alongside Jenn, Lt. Devine has clear business to attend to, and he’s not trying to hide it. He’s clearly trying to piece his emotions together, I’ll give him that… But he is not trying, in the slightest, to hide the fact that he is on the verge of breaking under the pressure of whatever it may be, clear or unclear, dangling directly above his head on a cable anxiously waiting to snap.
“Josh” calls out a voice from beside the man, holding a cup of black coffee in his hand, a voice belonging to none other than Eliza.
“Over here, now.”
I can’t deny her request. I still hadn’t responded to her text from Saturday night… And if that’s not bad enough… I hadn’t responded to the 19 follow-up messages afterwards.
“What the fuck? You manipulative bastard! Why haven’t you been responding to my texts?”
Good thing I practiced.
“My phone’s broken. I haven’t gotten it fixed yet. What do you expect me to do?”
She’s glaring at me like she knows something is up. Remember, she’s smart. She knows her way around a lie, and that… That is a bad sign for me, regardless of how convincing I can be.
“Your phone is broken? On the same weekend one of the most powerful men in this company is butchered and left for dead in the middle of nowhere? Fucking really?”
Well… I wouldn’t say butchered.
“I’m sorry. Is a pot of boiling water supposed to care about someone I know being killed? I don’t think water and phones make exceptions for events of interest, E.”
Grunt of frustration, quiet and yet unmistakable. You’re either expecting me to think in some way and are phenomenal at acting well enough to throw me off guard and convince me that you’re convinced, or you’re truly convinced and are ready to move on.
“What did you find out?”
Pulling Eliza into my office is the safest bet I have to make sure no one overhears me, and convince her that what I am saying carries weight.
Into Josh’s office, Lane closes the door shut and sits at his chair.
Handing Eliza an envelope, Josh explains.
“I paid someone to set up a meeting and grab an envelope from Warren. This is what he gave me. It was a few hours before Warren was killed, and with what’s inside it… I think someone who didn’t like competition tried to put a silence on Duane as soon as they could.
Telling the truth doesn’t always have to mean telling the WHOLE truth… Just enough to satisfy whomever is trying to know it.
“Oh my god. This… This is…”
Cutting her off, Josh replies. “I know… This is big.”
Shaking her head, Eliza denies.
“No… You see these signs?”
Leaning forward, Josh notices Eliza pointing to the background walls on every picture, noticing the same bronze and black emblem painted directly above the victim’s heads. Confused, Josh asks for further information.
“What am I supposed to be looking at?”
Looking into Josh’s eyes, Eliza responds. “That’s the Pipeline Family symbol, Josh.”
Looking directly back up to Eliza, now connecting his eyes with hers, Eliza concludes.
“Warren’s in the mafia.”
Jesus… Fucking… Christ…
Okay… That’s a much bigger army than I was expecting.
Shit, shit shit shit, fucking shit. I just performed an act of war against the goddamn mafia. I… I killed the mafia boss, I didn’t just step on their toes… I sliced them off and threw them in a pot of boiling water. What the fuck did I just do?
Nope. Not going there. I’m not about to rethink my entire thought process just to keep a disgusting cretin to society alive any longer than he was or had to be. He’s dead and he was humiliated… That’s what he deserved.
But despite the gravity of this entire situation getting flipped onto its head, don’t think I failed to notice your worried and fear-filled glare at Alec when you walked through his door, Lt. Devine. You can tell a lot about someone when they’re met with a challenge they hadn’t anticipated for a moment… And that peer out into the rest of the office before shutting the door to Alec’s office said quite a lot.
You know something you’re probably not supposed to. Whether it has something to do with me, or with everything surrounding this situation I have yet to find out. But you better be sure… I WILL find out.
“Hey there, Josh. What can I get for you?” A middle-aged man standing behind a countertop asks as Josh walks through the door, tie loosened and hair frizzled a bit.
“What’s new, Lou?”
Lou’s a kind fellow. He’s had a past with drugs, never selling or importing, just taking. With some effort and a few years of rehab, Lou’s proof that you can come back from low points and still live the dreams you most covet.
“Same old, same old. The shop’s $8k in the hole.”
“It could always be worse. At least you’ve still got shipments coming in.”
Chuckling below his breath, Lou smiles. “Yeah, but it ain’t much use when you’re already on the tab. Then shipments start coming in a few days late with nothing you can do about it.”
Lou’s turned his life around, and all he really wanted was to find success under his own accord in a city reliant on using other people to climb the ladder to fame and fortune. Sadly, that kind of desire comes built in with the fact that it costs more than one can be comfortable with right out of the gate.
Life’s hard. But Lou will get through it as he always tends to do. It’s just going to have to come at the cost of cutting some corners.
“Medium dark roast. Two sugars.”
Lou starts smirking, looking up at Josh who can’t figure out why.
“What’s up, Lou?”
When Lou smirks, you tend to realize he’s figured out something before you have.
“Who is it?”
Tilting his head, Josh subtly shakes in confusion.
“Who’s the girl” Lou asks.
“What do you mean? I’m not following…”
Walking over to the countertop, Lou starts making Josh’s coffee, all whilst smiling at Josh.
“When you order anything other than a straight up black coffee, it’s usually because you’ve got something on your mind… But sugar?”
Placing the pot of coffee back into its holder before reaching for two packets of sugar, ripping them open at the same time before dumping them in simultaneously, Lou concludes, handing Josh his coffee with the stirring stick placed diligently through the opening of the lid.
“Sugar means it’s more of a someone than a something.”
Lou’s got a way with understanding people. He knows what makes them tick and he knows how to get them going. He’ll use that to his advantage, that’s why he’s managed to stay afloat despite being $8k in debt. So if Lou’s suggesting that I have someone on my mind, who am I to disagree with him? After all, there’s plenty of people I’d be worse off not having on my mind right now.
“I’m not saying you guys are intimate, but your way of dealing with people you believe to be worth something in some way or another, Josh… Is by taking life’s sweet and savory beauties and fixating on them like a deer in headlights. Just don’t stand still for too long.”
Taking his coffee, Josh stuffs a $100 bill in the tip jar before responding. “I’ll let you know when I figure that out.”
Turning to walk to a seat near the window, Josh’s progress forward is halted when the bells on the door begin ringing, and walking in comes one of the people in question flooding Josh’s mind.
Well, hello Lieutenant. I’m assuming this isn’t you stumbling upon me by chance, is it?
“Coffee. Medium” Lt. Devine says over to Lou, waving him off as if to say ‘make the coffee and get this over with’ before turning to me, putting on the least-convincing, nice-guy smile I have seen in years. “Josh Lane, right? Yeah, we’ve worked with each other a few times. How’ve you been?”
I don’t know enough about Eric Devine, other than the fact that something is fishy with him, to make an educated guess as to whether or not I mind him… But I think I can take an educated guess up to this point… Just to be sure…
I don’t think I’m going to like him very much.
“Just peachy, Lieutenant. How about yourself?”
“Not so bad, Mr. Lane. A few things popping up in the headlines every now and then, but nothing the NYPD won’t get to the bottom of... If you know what I mean.”
If I knew everything, I would be able to decide perfectly whether to kick you in the balls or not. The problem is the fact that I don’t know everything, and therefor have to reside beside my theory that you weren’t actually born with any… So my efforts would be for nothing.
“Coffee. Medium. $2.79” Lou says, handing the cup out to the officer.
Confident, Lt. Devine deviates from his intentions just long enough to turn to Lou and respond.
“Cops don’t pay. Enjoy the law and order.”
I don’t like him very much.
“Can we sit down and have a catch up?”
Definitely not a chance encounter.
“I would, but I’ve got some catching up to do with some friends downtown. I’ve got to get home and get ready at some point, y’know?” Josh says, playing innocent and laying on a think smile to cover the truest distain lurking within his soul.
“Nonsense” Devine says, “Tighten up the tie and find a comb somewhere and you’ll be ready to go! I’ll even drive you!”
Not this again… Well, I mean… He’s offering to drive… That could, y’know, come in handy.
“If you insist, i guess I have no problems with it!”
Walking over to a seat by the window, Devine and Josh sit face to face.
“Man, this tailspin the city’s about to get into is insane, right?”
Squinting his eyes, Josh leans his head to the side.
“Oh, with Warren? The murder? This town’s gonna go nuts! Well-off, wealthy men with a family legacy to leave behind getting butchered in some random New York alleyway? This town is not going to look pretty.”
This town was doomed to an eternal ugliness the second you were promoted to Lieutenant, Devine. Scum like yourself are responsible for taking enough bribes to ensure every bridge in the city falls behind ten years in safety just so rich cunts scattered across the parts of New York 90% of the population will never be able to afford to live in can make a few extra bucks. You’re sick. You’re irredeemable. I would think whomever wanted to elicit chaos in this town would be doing it a massive favor.
Eventually, Devine… You’d have enough on your plate to choke.
“It doesn’t look good, at all.”
After a brief standoff of silence, Devine asks, “You going to drink that?”
“Eventually” Josh responds, “I’m just waiting for it to cool off.”
Nodding, Devine asks, “If you drink it while it’s hot, it soothes the throat better.
Slouching back into his chair slowly, enough for Devine to notice the tension in the room rising, Josh responds, “Agree to disagree, Lieutenant.”
Looking down to his drink, Devine nods before changing the subject.
“So what did you think of him?”
“Hm?” Josh responds. “Warren” Devine answers.
“Oh. He was… Something…”
Honestly, I was at a loss for words. The truth was that he was a monster… But that kind of claim could be incriminating. The lie would be that he was an honest man trying to serve his late father proud… But I would have forced myself to throw up before I could even finish saying the word ‘honest.’
“And what do you describe as ‘something’?” Devine asks.
Placing his right arm over his left, joining it in his lap, Josh responds.
“Someone who did whatever he was meant to do, and probably… Knowing what happens to people with a lot of money and a lot of ways to screw people over in making it… Probably pissed off one too many people.”
“So you think it was someone who wanted revenge?” Devine asks, raising an eyebrow whilst leaning into the table.
Meeting Devine halfway, Josh plants both of his hands against the surface of the table and replies. “I think everyone wants revenge. I just think people directly fucked over want it a little more than others.”
The cafe is empty aside from myself and Devine, so the silence wafting throughout the air is noticeable enough to hear Devine swallowing the saliva in his mouth.
“And who did he fuck over so much that they went to the lengths of killing him to get revenge?” Devine asks, prompting Josh to smile out of the corner of his mouth and raise his own eyebrow.
“I don’t know, Lieutenant. I thought that was your job to find out?”
Smiling his own smile, only hiding anger behind it, Devine nods before responding. “I guess it is… At least for now.”
He knows something about me that I didn’t hide well enough. If it was evidence linking me to Warren’s muder, I’d be in cuffs by now… So that’s not it. But if it’s something placing me in the area around the time of the murder, that’s a big issue. I don’t have an alibi. So if there’s reason to link me to Warren’s killing, I have no margin for error. I have to take advantage of every small opportunity that I see.
“Speaking of jobs to do, Lieutenant… I’ve got a job to meet up with a few friends in about fifteen minutes and you still owe me a ride!”
Devine lifts his hands into the air before complying, standing from his seat before joining Josh in his path towards the door. Turning back to the front counter, Josh subtly salutes Lou before calling, “See you soon, Lee!”
Squinting his eyes for a moment before lifting his chin, Lou salutes back and returns the favor. “Anytime, Josh! I look forward to it!”
“Here we are, Josh. Thank for your help today” Devine says, at least now consciously making an effort to hide the disgust he has for the man sitting in his passenger seat.
“Thank you for keeping me company!” Josh replies, “Have a safe ride home!”
“I will. You enjoy your night!” Devine says before waving and driving off, disappearing into the vast sea of lights in the night.
Walking through the door of Takeover Bar and Grill, Josh finds himself engorged in the dim lights of the walkway, scouring the immediate vicinity in hopes of finding what he is looking for, trying effortlessly to blend in with the rest of the crowd on the slim chance someone has him within their line of sight.
They say the best way to blend into a crowd is by looking exactly like those around you, but still standing out enough that your lack of presence isn’t shady or noteworthy. Keep to yourself and remember what you’re aiming for, but have a drink every now and then and make a passing comment to someone about politics or some shit like that.
Everyone here is putting on a front, that’s been clear since the doors opened… But some people are worth more than others, and with that worth, they carry information more vital than the rest.
“Dale Rover, what a pleasure it is to see you!” Josh says, offering his hand whilst trying to remain as audible as possible, competing against the sound of shredding guitars and beer cannister-like drums.
“Always a pleasure the same, Joshua!”
Dale Rover may be the most disgustingly unique man you’ll ever find dirt on… There are many reasons for that, but the biggest is the fact that whatever you may find on him… He probably has eight times that on you. If you lay a finger on Dale, he’ll have that sucker removed by the top of the hour. Any damage more permanent, and you’ll find yourself trapped at the bottom of the ocean with a clock and an air bubble, just so you can suffer before you go. He’s remorseless and he’s ruthless.
For that very reason… He’s probably the only person in this city that is truly… Without any doubt… Untouchable.
“What can I find myself doing by the end of the night at your behest, Lane?”
Retrieving from his coat pocket a small plastic baggie of hair, Josh slides it across the table to Dale before following through by sliding him a post-it note and a check.
“Deputy Helms and ten thousand dollars” Dale says, “You need a framejob and… Appearing from the extra two-grand, an alibi.”
Dale is one of those rare cases I stumble across where they do so much bad, but somehow always prove to do the right thing more often than the wrong. He’ll let a pedo or two slip, but he’ll also put human traffickers behind bars by the thousands. The bad that he lets go is somehow justified by the amount of good that overshadows it. I mean, I took a dangerous mob boss off of the streets, even if I was unaware of full scale of what he was doing, but still killed a man in the dead of night, so who am I to judge the moral of bad and good?
If you’re a bad man, you do and offer more harm than good. That’s where justice becomes deserved.
“We both know that I’m aware of what you do around here… So… Considering we also both know exactly who was behind Warren’s massacre, I’ll offer you a friendly piece of advice for being gutsy enough to pick a fight with the mafia.”
Leaning in, Josh listens in as Dale gives him a freebie. “Devine is the second in command. Anything happens to Warren and he takes over a rowdy group of assholes wanting revenge. If you give it enough time and stay clean about it… Framing this Helms guy could lead to a few months of deep diving that ultimately could connect right back to the Lieutenant himself.”
Standing from his seat before grabbing at his coat, checking his pockets before putting it on, Dale concludes and walks off. “Lay a few things on the path to keep people following and you’ll have made quite the mess for the NYPD and the Pipeline. Take the two most dangerous birds out with the same perfectly placed bowl of poison.”
New York is a bold and chaotic jungle that most people only ever dream of seeing the pretty and prosperous side of. It’s a dangerous game they play, standing in the middle of Times Square and assuming the rest of the city will be as beautiful and bright as the central hub of town is.
Once they flip the cards to reveal their hand, they notice the gross and grave underbelly of the truth this city is hiding. Corruption in the heartbeats of what the city depends on, and favoritism blatantly aimed at the most powerful the city has to offer. Every last drop of filth this city hides is bound to take it to the bottom alongside it.
I never intended to get my hands tied up in it’s hidden blemishes. All I wanted to do was make sure that the people most deserving of it suffered the punishments they most deserved to face. I get that sometimes we bite off more than we can chew, but does anyone ever stop to smell the roses for a second? Think about why exactly they’re tied up in the mess they find themselves in?
Perhaps if I did that, I could find the possibility that I have a greater hand to play than the one I originally thought I was dealt. Maybe I’m looking at the dealer right now and have no clue of it, but understand enough to know that no matter what card is drawn now, I have a stronger hand regardless contained right within my fingertips.
*Knock knock knock*
“Busy?” the voice beyond the doorway asks, breaking Josh from his drawn out gaze at the wall ahead.
“I was wondering if I could run something by you?” The voice asks, returning Josh to a standard posture.
“Sure, E. Go ahead.”
Walking into the room and shutting the door behind her, Eliza takes a seat in front of Josh, carrying with her a manila envelope she unlatches from a metal clip before sliding it across the desk and over to Josh. “Take a look.”
Reaching for the envelope, Josh holds it in his hands for a moment, just staring at it before finally retrieving the contents from within it.
Spread across the table, a text-by-text conversation between Eric Devine and Alec Cerine setting up plans for a meeting later tonight.
“It’s right outside of La Mirage, four benches over, fifteen minutes past midnight. I don’t know what they’re meeting for yet, but it’s more suspicious than anything I found on Warren.” Eliza says, keeping her eyes locked onto Josh’s in hopes of easily gaging a response.
“Well, anything?” Eliza asks, noticing Josh’s not-so-subtle lack of words. Lightly placing the glossy images back to the surface of his desk, Josh shakes his head trying to find an adequate response. “What do you want me to say?”
“That it looks weird and something is wrong with it… That would be a good place to start.” Eliza responds, placing her arm on the desk before leaning in. “Only a few days after Warren gets cut to pieces and now they’re rushing to sit down and have a chit chat? Only after another few days since Devine literally walked into VeroSoft and jumped straight into a surprise close-door meeting with one of the most powerful men in the state?” Looking around the room, gazing from wall to wall in surprise before falling back into her chair. “I think they had something to do with it.”
“E, I know it sounds crazy to say after literally everything we’ve had to do to get down to brass tax, but what can we do? I mean… If there’s some kiddy porn ring going on in the city’s underground… And for whatever reason, two VeroSoft executives and one of the most powerful NYPD figures are joining forces with the mob to keep it going, what exactly can we do about it?”
Biting her lip and keeping her arms crossed, “Josh, I know what we’re getting ourselves into. But as long as no one finds out what we know… All we have to do is get the information out anonymously and the city has less to be afraid of than it ever imagined!”
Eliza has a point. Devine may be onto me, but I don’t know anyone else that could be as of right now. So unless Devine has managed to get a secretive manhunt out on me, he’s missing something strong enough to book me for Warren’s death or anything else for that matter.
Maybe Eliza is right. Maybe staying hidden in the shadows is a safe enough cover to keep things going. Maybe that’s how I figure out what the hand I’m holding is.
Putting his elbow to the surface of the desk and raising his hand to support his head, “So where do we go from here?”
Smiling out of the corner of her mouth, Eliza can practically feel Josh tugging at the line as he speaks, knowing that all she’d need would be one final pull to reel him in.
“We hideout and wait for them to meet up. We’ll film everything and keep it as evidence for when we do get that golden ticket we’re looking for. We don’t need to get our hands dirty, we just need to get enough down to go to the cops and gets these fuckers grounded.”
If we’re talking about letting the justice system give these guys a piece of their own medicine, then I’ve already gotten my hands dirty. But who knows? Maybe there’ll be something that goes down that does me more good in having than not. Fine, if it does what I need it to do, then fine. I’ll go along with it, E.
“I guess I’ll see you tonight.”
Smiling, Eliza stands from her chair and makes for the door, looking back before walking out. “Pick me up at 10?”
Nodding as he holds his head down, hiding a smile to the best of his abilities, Josh waits for his door to close before lifting his head back and falling back into his chair, holding his arms in his lap before taking a breath, and closing his eyes.
“Hello?” *knock knock knock*
Opening the door, Jenn peers out through the opening before smiling and unlocked the deadbolt.
Standing in the middle of the hallway with his hands tucked into his pockets, Josh smiles before greeting the woman. “Care to come in?” Jenn asks, with Josh nodding and stepping forward.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Looking around the room, Josh sees the white walls, void of any decorations or the sorts. “Just came over to ask about Alec. Is everything alright with him?”
Giggling under her breath, Jenn nods her head before reaching for a glass of wine laid on the glass tabletop. “Yes. yes, he’s perfectly fine. Wh- why do you ask?”
Squinting his eyes whilst keeping the smile on his face, using it to hide the combination of confusion and concern, Josh points to the half-empty bottle of wine beneath the table before looking towards Jenn. “Been drinking tonight, Jenn?”
Still sporting the smile, adjusting his voice to be more humor-filled. Josh awaits the response. “What are you, Devine? Oh, of course officer! Only a little, though. Don’t wanna go too overboard, right?”
Smile now starting to fade into a grimace, Josh keeps his finger pointed at the bottle before squinting his eyes further, “Devine?” Lowering his finger to the ground before looking on with thinly-vailed concern, “You know Devine?”
Still giggling through sips, Jenn nods. “He’s here all the time! Pretty much family now!”
Now puzzled, Josh starts walking slowly towards Jenn, “Does he stay here?”
Nodding, “Yeah. I mean, like, he doesn’t live here. But he stays over sometimes. He’s always talking about business and financials and exchanging. Sometimes I think they’re on Wall Street and I just don’t know it yet.”
Now reaching his hands out, Josh takes a hold on jenn in his arms. “Let’s get you to bed, Jenny. We don’t want you tumbling around the room all night long, do we?”
“No. No we don’t” Jenn responds, leading Josh to the room she shares with Alec before climbing into bed, letting Josh take the glass from her hand before tucking her in. “You’re a good man, Joshua. Eliza’s lucky to have a such a good man. You’re a good man.”
Laughing under his breath, Josh smiles before patting Jenn on the shoulder and wishing her a good night. Walking out the door, Josh quietly shuts it behind him before noticing another off to the side. Walking up to it, Josh notices the handle being different from that of the rest, with an industrial-like lock on the door knob.
Reaching his hand out for it, Josh tries shaking the handle to no use, as it doesn’t as much as budge an inch out of place, proving it to be well-secured.
I would understand keeping valuables in a room you never use and wanting a lock for it that the condo doesn’t come with, but for it to be THIS secure is more than a little unnerving.
If Devine is here often, this could be the perfect place for him to hide something he doesn’t want found anywhere near him. Not to mention, if everything goes south, it’s a perfect way to frame someone else for your crimes. It’s perfect for every use.
All I need is a key.
Looking around the place, Josh scours the area before noticing a singular key hanging from a hook off to the side of one of the closets. Retrieving it, he marches for the locked door like a bat out of hell, placing it in and turning it to the right, feeling every clasp coming loose vibrating up his arm before finally freeing the final mechanism. Reaching for the door knob, a buzzing goes off in his pocket, forcing his hand from the knob and to his phone.
1 NEW MESSAGE.
Eliza: You coming?
Responding, “Yeah, just in traffic. I’ll be there in 10.
Letting out a sigh, Josh looks around the room for a brief moment before locking the door once more and placing the key in his jacket pocket.
Heading for the front door, Josh takes another glance into the living room before noticing the ice white carpet being scuffed in the corner of the room. Slowly walking towards it, Josh looks at the edge, torn up from the rest of the hardwood flooring beneath, yet still pressed on as if it never stood out.
Reaching towards it, Josh peels up the soft, warm, fur-like carpet to reveal a door, cold and jet-black painted with one red light at the edge. “What the hell?” Stepping away, Josh tosses the rug back to its original place before slowly retreating to the front door, only for, at the last moment, a key to start maneuvering its way into the front door’s lock.
“Shit!” Josh whispers to himself, hurrying over to and hiding inside of another coat closet directly at the head of the living room. Peering through the slots, Josh watches Devine walk into the room before immediately marching towards the coat closet beside the mystery room.
Shuffling through clothing, Devine notices something missing before looking around for another brief moment until slamming his hand against the wall beside it. Storming over to the edge of the room, Devine notices the ruffled carpet before beginning to laugh angrily.
Pulling out his phone, Devine starts dialing a number before placing it up to his ear.
Eric Devine, you devilish son of a bitch. You’re onto something evil, I’m sure of it. All I’ve got to do now is figure it out.
“Yeah, Ford? It’s Devine” the Lieutenant says, looking around the room, fuming whilst trying to keep from waking Jenn. “The bitch is asleep. Cerine’s got the keys and the papers. He’s making a break for it. You know what to do.”
Suddenly and without warning, Devine hangs up before making a break for the door, slamming it shut on his way out and allowing for Josh to exit the entrapment of the not-so-quaint confinement.
What the hell does ‘you know what to do’ mean? I don’t think I should want to ask, but you know what they say.
Curiosity kills the cat.
Retrieving his phone, Josh pulls up his messages and begins typing.
“Eliza, make it 20.”
“You’re a intriguing individual to try and figure out, Mr. Lane”
Smiling, Josh lightly taps on his steering wheel before turning to the woman on his right. “And what secrets do you hide, Miss Bradburry?”
Placing her foot to the dashboard in front of her, Eliza sinks into her seat, gliding her finger across the smooth surface of the seat belt strapping her to the chair. “I’m not gay.”
Raising an eyebrow and jokingly turning to her, Josh nods silently before shaking his head and lifting his shoulders. “What?” Eliza asks, only for Josh to reply, “Talk about a shocker!”
“What? You weren’t convinced, were you?” Returning to face the cafe, Josh explains. “I did at first, I won’t lie about that. After some further consideration, I realized it didn’t add up.”
Slouching further into her seat, “I figured.”
Turning back to her, “Why’d you lie?”
Not mad or annoyed, Josh just sits there curiously whilst he watches Eliza turn red. “It’s nice to not be known.”
Climbing her way back into proper posture, Eliza keeps her foot stationed on the dashboard. “I expose all of the bad because it helps me feel better about myself. I never put a name or a face to what I know and what I share unless it’s around people that I trust. Since I’m used to doing work anonymously, it’s only that much more comfortable living my life that way too.”
Pausing for a moment, Eliza lets out a sigh of relief. “There’s no skeletons in my closet because it’s always moving too fast to carry any. No one asks questions, and no one gets answers.”
“I’m just a normal girl in a noisy world.” Turning to Josh, Eliza tilts her head as she rests it against the soft, cushiony headrest. “It’s kinda poetic, huh?”
Smiling from ear to ear, Josh places his lips together before nodding subtly. “You trust me?”
Smiling herself, Eliza begins nodding. “Yeah. I do.”
Locking eyes, Eliza and Josh both lean towards each other, keeping their eyes locked until the sound of a car door from across the street slams shut. Out from it is Alec, buttoning up the blazer he wears before marching across the street to LaMirage.
Slowing down, Alec notices a man sitting at the bench he agreed to meet Devine at stand from his chair and begin walking in his direction. Extending his arms outwards, as if to ask the man who he is, Alec comes face to face with the guy before finding himself impaled by the blade of a knife.
In the car, Eliza and Josh gasp and cover their mouths to avoid being drawing attention, watching as the man begins dropping Cerine to the ground in the middle of the street, as passers-by scream in horror as they too watch the events unfold. One by one, the blade imbeds itself into Cerine over and over until the blood pooling around the powerful young executive outweighs the blood still in his body.
Finally, the man rips the knife from Alec’s sternum before placing it into his pocket and climbing into a large black car having driven up once the deed was done. Off into the night, the car drives away as civilians begin calling for the police and trying to revive the man.
Placing his arms around Eliza, Josh holds her in his arms and shields her eyes from having to look through the windshield any further.
They knew what to do.
I guess I do too now.