“Quell Gas and Shortstop, how can we help you?”
The woman at the front desk of the small, out of the way gas station holds the phone to her ear and begins arguing with the voice on the other line, referring to it as a bastard and a cheat before the chimes of the front entry to the store ring off, and through the door walks a figure cloaked in black. Jeans are a rustic black, jacket is darker than a shadow on the ground and shoes with the appearance of having been rubbed with charcoal.
Through the store the figure walks, browsing the shelves and eying the aisles, taking a few moments to stop every now and then to pick something from its metal shelving and tuck it beneath its arm before continuing its efforts.
One by one, the figure retrieves miniscule item one after another before finally approaching the refrigerators at the end of the store, stopping for a moment ahead of them and tilting its head, only to swing the glass door open and pull free from it a large case of off-brand beer.
Turning away from the back of the store, the figure heads for the front counter, nonchalantly gazing at the items on the shelves to each side it has no intention of buying before finally standing at the front counter, placing the items on the countertop and staring at the cashier through dark tinted sunglasses.
*beep beep beep*
The price scanner sounds off, ringing through each item individually. Black hair dye, a loaf of bread, a few packets of tuna and the aforementioned case of beer. Once each item has been processed into the system, the store clerk requests the payment of $24.78 and identification for the liquor.
Reaching into its pocket, the figure pulls out a wallet and hands the clerk a twenty and a five before handing the woman at the register its ID.
“Can you remove the glasses for a moment, mam?” The store clerk asks, prompting the woman to remove the hood over her head and the glasses from her face, allowing her striking blue eyes to meet those of the store clerks.
Nodding her head following a closer inspection of the identification card, the store clerk motions her hand forward, returning the ID to its rightful owner. Pressing a few more buttons on her cash register, the clerk prints off a receipt and smiles in the direction of the woman in front of her.
“Thank you, Ms. Bradburry. Have a lovely day.”
Taking her items back under her arms, Eliza smiles upwards and thanks the clerk for her wishes before turning for the door and heading out of the store.
Back at her car, the rental plates remain on the trunk she sends flying into the air to store her purchased items, revealing a clean and empty interior before being shut once more. Walking to the drivers side, Eliza opens the door and returns to her seat, pressing her hands against the steering wheel and taking a deep breath, almost as if to calm herself from any underlying stress before placing the keys into the ignition and starting her car.
Backing up from her parking spot, Eliza sends the car into drive before making for the entryway to the lot and directing her vehicle north, heading onto a backroad and directly passing a sign reading, “New Hampshire. 5 Miles Away.”
There’s no room for silence in the bowels of New York. The povered and the privileged in most cases have such little room for themselves that they’re usually forced to stand side by side with the other. It’s a constant reminder that there’s no room for error in a city infested with the discards of humanity.
Sometimes, I feel like the people stranded in New York are being punished just by being forced to live there. The streets are crowded, no one cares about anyone other than themselves, and it’s hard to find good people. Hell, most people in New York don’t even try to be nice… It’s just too much effort.
So when you find someone that seems to be nice because they’re consciously making an effort, you latch onto that person because it’s more likely to be that they’re truly a good person than the opposite. People that do the right thing and make the right moves because they have the best intentions behind them. It’s hard to find, but when you find it… You’re positive you hit the nail straight on the head.
I’ll be honest with myself… Those people can come across fairly charming fairly quickly. I’d be lying to myself if I said I wasn’t beginning to find Josh attractive in every conceivable way. When you get a warm shoulder around, you just seemed to be drawn to the idea of nestling up against it. But I’m also afraid of what might happen between us if things take a turn neither of us saw coming.
That ‘almost kiss’ was a deer in the middle of a pitch black road. I couldn’t just say “I’m gay” again and hope it slides, because I’m not and I’m surprised Josh bought it the first time to begin with. But stack that on top of seeing… What I had to see… Something’s just not adding up.
Warren gets sliced up like carved ham just as I’m on the verge of getting to the bottom of what he’s hiding, and once I get a few pieces fall into my lap, I watch the closest person I can pin to him as an associate get pierced into oblivion meer feet away from me. And now, all of a sudden, I’m starting to get this Lieutenant Devine guy calling to speak to me privately. I know I’m dealing with two mafia killings here, but I can’t help but wonder how the rabbit hole truly goes.
I think I might already know. Well… I guess the better word for the situation is I ‘fear’ that I might already know what I don’t want to. These weeks… They haven’t been great.
I know it doesn’t seem like what’s been happening justifies faking my own death, but what I’ve begun to know now is more startling than I care to admit…
Nothing is what it seems in New York. And sometimes…
Neither are the people.
I can feel the nerves in my body trying desperately to eat away at my flesh. I’m furious. I’m fuming.
Evil always has a way of finding the most inopportune time to strike its vengeance down upon the heart of the people least deserving of it. All I wanted to do was make sure the people wronged by vile cretins were served the spectators view of the justice they deserve to be granted. Ensure that their suffering wasn’t in vain.
I failed myself in the process.
I still have no clue whether Alec had a larger role in this operation or not, so whether or not he truly got what was coming for him, I’m probably long from knowing. But I know for certain, what happened to Eliza was my fault. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t justified.
It was wrong on so many levels. It was injustice that I served to her on a cold, harsh platter of disgust.
I guess trouble truly does have a thing for me. It doesn’t want to leave me alone, and why should it? I’m a magnet for it at this rate. Mobs, murder and mayhem are like scattered reference points on my resume.
Maybe more so than anything else… Carnage is my honest grimey truth.
The phone in Josh’s pocket begins buzzing in a familiar tone, prompting the man currently seated on a leather sofa with a bottle of New York’s finest in his hand to reach into his pocket and raise the phone to his ear without question.
“Why did this happen to me? Why didn’t you warn me?” Josh says, awaiting a response before hearing nothing but silence. “ANSWER ME!” Josh screams into the phone, throwing himself to his feet in anger before the silence is broken on the other end of the phone call.
“Is this Mr. Joshua Lane?” The voice on the other end asks, forcing Josh to ease up in his hostility noticing the calm and cautious woman’s voice on the other end. “Yes. Yes, I’m sorry. It’s been… It’s been a long few hours.”
Returning to a normal tone, the woman on the other line begins to explain her reason for calling. “Mr. Lane, my name is Sylvia Hamish with the New York Police Department. We were hoping you could come down later today to identify the body we found on Lakeshore Road last night. We know it’s difficult, but you’re the only person we’ve confirmed to be familiar with her.”
Wiping his chin of the liquor running down it, Josh catches his composure and agrees to help in identifying the body. “Yeah. I’ll- I can be down there in an hour.”
“Great, we’ll inform the front desk now. Thank you for your help, Mr. Lane.”
Nodding his head slowly, Josh responds, “No problem” with his voice giving out, cracking under the weight of his emotions before the line on the other end disconnects. Refusing the lower the phone from the side of his head, Josh just stares blankly at the blank wall in front of him as the lack of conversation resonating from the other line begins dulling out the room around him. Suddenly, he finds himself increasing the volume of the faint tone on the phone line until it’s all that he can hear. The buzzing surrounds him, screaming at him along the same wavelength as the blood her can hear running through his neck.
Head shaking, hands growing sweaty enough to almost drop his phone involuntarily, Josh stands there on the verge of erupting into a ball of flames and fury until the growling tone of the phone line dies, the room around him returns to its state and the hairs on his body stand in attention as he looks around the room, dimly lit by the faint pink light of the sun at dawn.
Looking around the room, phone still plastered to the side of his face, Josh notices something he can’t explain. He can feel something around him, but he just can’t quite put into words what the feeling is supposed to be. Finally, his arm still holding the phone to the side of his head begins to tinger with anticipation, all before the soothing and light touch of a hand begins to graze his skin, moving up his forearms and to his biceps before finally reaching and holding his hand. Josh turns to his left, phone still suspended by his hand in air with nothing to support it other than his palm, watching Nora smile at him whilst holding his hand in hers.
“Are you waiting for someone?” Nora asks, leaning in to Josh before planting a kiss to his lips, locking eyes with him and waiting patiently like a dove on a tree.
“Just a… client” Josh responds through breaths of confusion, watching as Nora’s expression goes from one of pleasure to one of contempt.
“Why are you lying to me, Josh?” The woman, her touch still leaving the hairs on Josh’s arms stood in place begins to sour her expression towards Josh into a twisted frown filled with hatred and disappointment.
“This isn’t real anymore, Joshua. Why keep lying to me?” The woman asks, getting closer to Josh’s face with a new look of sorrow and a somber empathy. “I- I don’t” Josh begins, only to be cut off as Nora places her forehead against his and closes her eyes, squeezing a tear out from her eyelid and down the side of her cheek. “Why don’t you love me anymore, Josh?” Nora asks, tears now seeping from her closed eyelids as Josh begins to follow suit, his eyes acting like a water spout. “I do.”
“Why don’t you love me anymore, Joshua?” Nora asks again, now panting at his chest with her free hand. “I do” responds Josh, trying to use his own free hand to lift Nora’s glance towards him. It’s to no avail as Nora keeps her head down, her forehead now pressed to his chin as she asks again. “Why don’t you love me anymore, Joshua?”
“I do!” Josh says again, pressing a kiss on her forehead as Nora’s panting turns to scratching. Her nails, like the claws of a coyote, try to dig into Josh’s chest at an empty rate. “No you don’t” Nora says, still with her eyes sealed and her head down.
“I do!” Josh tries again to assure her, trying to raise her chin up to look her in the eyes, only for Nora to refuse again, her scratching now turning to clawing, drawing blood from Josh’s chest as beat-red scratch marks begin to engulf his chest. “No you don’t!” Nora now shouts from her shallow core.
“I DO!” Josh screams to Nora, head shaking furiously before he’s brought to a stand still as Nora finally pulls her head up towards Josh’s. “No” Nora says, opening her eyes to reveal lifeless pearly-white eyes once more. “No you don’t, Joshua.”
Mouth agape, Josh’s eyes lock onto Nora’s as her body grows limp once more, shocked into a motionless stand unable to respond in any way until buzzing begins to surround him once more.
*buzz buzz buzz*
No Nora, no dead eyes and no hands stood on his skin, Josh finds himself staring at the blank wall once again, hand still pressing the phone to his ear, now buzzing erratically with another phone call.
Making sure to check the caller ID again, Josh cautiously slides the green arrow on the screen before pressing the phone back to his ear.
“Hello” Josh says, emotionlessly responding and returning to looking at the blank white wall ahead of him again. “I heard about what happened. I’m sorry about your loss.”
Turning to his left, Josh locks eyes onto the couch before dropping back into his seat again.
“What do you want, mystery man?”
“Well for a start, let’s begin calling me something else. ‘Mystery Man’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, now does it?”
Tilting his head and shutting his eyes, Josh caves. “Well what should I call you, then?”
Filling the void of the buzzing with laughter, the man responds. “Well you shouldn’t be calling me at all, that’s my job… But in regards to how you should refer to me… How does ‘Guardian’ sound?”
Chuckling beneath the pressures of his own broken voice, Josh nudges his shoulders and responds. “It’s probably the least ridiculous thing in my life right now, so why the hell not?”
“Good. I’m a sucker for it, too. So, listen to me. I know you’ve got a little appointment with a specific police department in a little bit, so I want to make sure you and I are on the same page here.”
“What are you talking about?” Josh asks, earning a response easily. “I know you want to… But you can’t kill the Lieutenant yet. At least, not until we’ve gotten a few things in order here.”
Standing from the couch, legs slightly wobbly as he cautiously marches to the other side of the room and over to his kitchen countertop, Josh asks for further explanation.
“While we know that Devine’s hiking on our side of the trail, we don’t have any proof wiping our hands clean from any wrong doing in case someone asks about why he’s laying in a pool of his own blood face down in the dirt. And if we don’t have that luxury for Devine, we certainly still don’t have that for Warren. We can’t get our hands dirty again unless we’ve washed them first.”
“I thought I was the one getting his hands dirty, puppet master” Josh responds, returning the bottle of liquor to the cabinet above his head. “Funny guy you are, Josh. Too bad police see right through charm.”
“Let me clarify something to you, Josh. You’re in way over your head here, and the only direction you’re going is downhill. When you bite off more than you can chew, you start to get sloppy. When you get sloppy, you get caught. And when you get caught, we get caught.”
Staring out of the window beside his recliner, Josh watches the sun fully rise above the clouds and places his elbow onto the countertop. “So what is your plan, puppet master?”
“Doesn’t work like guardian does” the man responds, prompting Josh to raise an eyebrow.
“Alright, I can feel your eyebrow raising from over here. I’ll move on” The man says, popping a pill before downing it with vodka and continuing. “You’ve already planted the knife in Devine’s car. The hair is stashed on Deputy Helms. All you have to do is try to anonymously tip into the police that Deputy Helms was in the area suspiciously trying to conceal a bag of hair he was carrying the night that Warren was killed. You tell them about how you just happened to stumble across the crime scene photos online and noticed a chunk of Warren’s platinum gray hair cut unlike the rest.”
“Okay, how do I know they’ll start looking into Helms instead of just brushing it off?” Josh asks, prompting a giggle from the man on the other line.
“Oh Joshua, how you make me blush. Do you honestly think the police aren’t aware of the underground secrets this city is hiding? Most want to shut it down as soon as they can… Clears up a ton of headaches lingering around that cramped closet desk factory. The only reason it’s still around now is because they never had anything solid to pin anyone... to anything. To bust a cop for the murder of one of the Pipeline’s most trusted faces would only force them to start digging deeper. Eventually they’ll stumble across the real trail path… Nip the problem in the bud, clear up the headache and tear everything down from the inside outwards.”
“The tipline” Josh says, earning a faint laughter in response. “You better start calling. I’ll talk to you soon” before the line goes dead, and Josh finally drops the phone from his ear, placing it into his pocket before making for the front door, grabbing his jacket, and slamming it shut behind him.
“Hello sanctuary” Eliza says, slamming the trunk fo her rental closed before walking through the iron gates of her off-grid home surrounded by the chilly mountain air and rustling tree leaves.
The large pack of beer drops to the kitchen table in the center of a lightless, beautifully organized kitchen overlooking the scenic views of a naturally formed stream bordering her backyard from the rest of the wilderness just outside.
Walking to the window and staring out at th view afforded to her, Eliza watches as a deer strols up to the stream to take a quick drink and shake off the leaves and dead grass it’s most likely been rolling around in. Dropping her hands to the corner of the sink, Eliza just continues to stare out at the deer, no reason for doing so, just taking the moment to appreciate the nature in front of her.
Lifting its head from the stream, the deer looks on at the house, staring through the kitchen window and directly back at Eliza, standing like a statue at the edge of the stream, no reason in doing so, just deciding to.
Finally, after a few brief moments of mutual gazing, the deer prances off into the forest, disappearing behind the line of trees dividing the blonde from the rest of the outer world.
Turning back to her kitchen table, Eliza puts her purchased items away one by one before taking the box of hair dye in her hand. Reading the instructions on the back of the box, Eliza walks off from the kitchen and further into the house.
Sitting at the edge of the tub, towel tucked around the top of her head, Eliza simply sits and stares off at the window ahead of her, lapping her eyes up with the dirt road she took to get here from top to bottom over and over again, waiting for the dye to dry.
It’s this peace of mind that you can’t get in New York. The chance to just focus on nothing if you really, truly wanted to. It’s special. It’s a unique feeling that you can’t get unless you really wanted to.
It’s perfect right now. It’s all I could ask for.
Unravelling the towel from her head, Eliza looks on in the mirror as her newly jet black hair falls over her shoulders, still wet glistening in the light from the sun outside. Reaching to the side, Eliza grabs a hair dryer and powers it on.
Now seated at the couch in her spacious living room, Eliza sits beside a small fire reading a book. “Looking for Alaska” reads the cover, allowing the woman to sit in silence and gaze over each word with as much attention to detail as the last.
Now, sun stranded behind the sky as the moon takes its turn to light up the willing sky, Eliza sits at her kitchen table swirling a spoon around a bowl of cereal, staring off at nothing and taking a spoonful every once in a blue moon as the crickets chirping outside of her window fill the void of space left by the desolate forest around her.
This is isolation. It’s both cruel and dignified at once. The city life can never afford anyone this measure of luxury… It’s something that needs to be sought rather than stumbled upon.
This sort of void of interaction is warranted. After everything that’s gone down over the past few weeks, it’s exactly what I need to figure everything out.
“We’ll be following this story throughout the night and for more updates follow us on KLOC.com or download the KLOC app.”
The television offers an explosion of light into the pitch black living room Eliza finds herself smothered under a blanket in just as the sound of rustling on the side of her home begins to flood through the cracked kitchen window.
Turning back to face the kitchen, Eliza mutes the television and sits in place, waiting for anything more. Patiently waiting, Eliza curls her toes and gently removes the blanket from atop of her as the rustling returns.
no , no no noe, nope, not a chance.
Standing to her feet before grabbing at her phone of the coffee table, Eliza quickly dials 911 and holds the phone to her ear, inching closer to the kitchen window one step at a time.
“911, what is your emergency?” The emergency operator on the other line asks, “I think there’s someone sneaking around outside my house” Eliza responds, whispering her way through the archway to her kitchen and up to the countertop, where she slowly pulls a kitchen knife free from the holder it imbeds.
“Alright mam, I see your phone is pinging from the outer hills just outside of Manhattan, is that correct?” The operator asks, with Eliza acknowledging in kind. “Alright mam, I’m going to transfer you to the local police department, and I want you to tell them exactly what you’ve told me and they’ll send cars out for you A-S-A-P.”
The criss-cross like sound of buttons mashing in the background of the line throw Eliza off, keeping her still in place before hearing the rustling again just outside of the kitchen window.
“Outer Manhattan Police Department” The voice responds, breaking Eliza free from the constrictions of her statue-like state. “My name’s Eliza Bradburry” The blonde whispers, clutching the handle of the knife in her hand like her life depends on it. “There’s someone outside my house sneaking around and whispering. I think there’s multiple people. I need you to send the police immediately.”
“Okay ma’am, we’re sending cars out to your location now. Do you know if the people are carrying any weapons on them?” The voice asks, with Eliza unsure. “Okay, ma’am. Can you hear what they’re whispering?”
Silencing her breathing, stepping quietly and leaning over the kitchen sink, Eliza takes a peak out of the corner of the window at two people armed with guns climbing up the stairway to her back porch. “You still haven’t told me why I’m here” A woman whispers, with the man ahead of her raising his finger to his lips and motioning for her to be quiet.
“They’re both armed and the woman’s asking the man why she’s there with him” Eliza responds, trembling as her eyes move from the corner of the window to the backdoor just beyond the countertop, leading out to the back patio.
“Send someone now!” Eliza whispers anxiously, tip-toeing to the backdoor rmed with the knife, ready to defend herself. Suddenly, the window to the door shatters into pieces, and a rock flies inside the home from outside, crashing with a jarring thud into the plaster-covered metal beam support column.
Leaping backwards from the surprise, Eliza phone flies from her hand and out the kitchen window, crashing down the slope just beyond her house before coming to a rest at the bottom of the rock-covered hill.
Reaching in and unlocking the door, a man’s hand falls back through the new hole in the door and twists the handle, pushing the door open with such a force that it plunges into the drywall behind it. Emerging from the doorway, Lieutenant Devine and another woman march inside, guns pointed directly at Eliza, ready to rush the intruders and go out fighting.
“WOAH! WAIT UP! HOLD ON A SECOND!” The Lieutenant calls, pulling one hand from the barrel of his gun and waving it in the air, all five fingers sprawled out as he stops Eliza in her place. “We’re not here to hurt you! We just needed to talk to you!” Devine pleads, lowering the tension in the room as both he and Eliza aim their weapons firmly in the others’ direction.
“So you break into my house to talk to me!?” Eliza shouts, to which Devine responds, “We needed to make sure no one expected it!”
Tilting her head in a parade of confusion, Eliza nudges her shoulders, allowing Devine to explain. “We need to warn you about some issues you’re involved in” Devine says, cutting himself off noticing Eliza’s eyes pointed directly at the woman accompanying him.
“That’s a Pipeline tattoo” Eliza says, pointing at the woman’s forearm, “You’re with the Pipeline.”
“We know you’re not a threat to us. We have no reason to hurt you, and believe me, I don’t want to” Devine says, lowering his voice into an audible whisper. “We need you to know something very important. Okay? Are you following me?” Devine asks, Eliza catching her breath nods in response, allowing Devine to continue.
“Joshua Lane, he’s your boss right?” Lowering her eyebrows, hand shaking, Eliza nods. “He’s a very dangerous man, Ms. Bradburry. Like… Like the evil kind… Of dangerous. And if he knew we were talking to you, he’d hurt you too.”
Now completely puzzled, and it showing, Eliza shakes her head and chuckles. “He’d never hurt a fly. He hates ‘em, but he wouldn’t hurt ‘em.” Tilting his head and biting his lip, Devine quietly whispers. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
Now thrown off, Eliza swallows the spit in her mouth before catching her breath once more. “He’s done some very bad things. And he’s used person after person to do them.”
After a moment of silence, Devine takes two steps forwards before locking eyes with Eliza.
“Just like he used you.”
Looking at the knife, trembling with her hand, Devine slowly lowers his gun and cautiously places it in the holster along his belt. “We’re not here to hurt you, we’re here to help you.”
Lowering her knife to her hip in response, Eliza backs up to the end of the kitchen to remain a number of steps away from Devine. “I need you to get out” Devine says, catching Eliza off guard. “What?” Eliza asks, smiling to mask the sheer amount of a tailspin everything is turning into with every breath taken.
“I don’t care where as long as it’s not here. It’s not safe here and you’re better off disappearing for now... At least until it’s safe to come back” Devine says, noticing the change in expression across Eliza’s face as she begins to realize the demand is not a joke.
“Where will I go?” Eliza asks, to which Devine promptly responds. “I don’t know and I don’t care, again, as long as it’s not here. Pack a bag, travel light and on foot. I’ll give you two minutes. Hurry. I’m serious, I’ll figure out something, just get moving.”
Looking around the house, Eliza shakes her way to her bedroom, retrieving a backpack and filling it with a few sets of clothes, tooth paste, a tooth brush and a towel. Marching back to her bedside, she pulls from her headrest a golden necklace and places it into the pocket. Turning back towards the door, she notices a white cord resting on top of her night stand.
Shit I forgot the cops are coming. Okay, wrap this shit up, let’s go.
Marching from her bedroom, Eliza shuffles through her kitchen cabinets and grabs a few granola bars and water bottles before turning to face Devine and the woman. “What are you waiting for? The door’s right there!” Devine says, pointing at the front door, ushering Eliza towards it. Slipping into her running shoes, Eliza briefly looks back into the kitchen, watching Devine and the woman stand in the kitchen, looking around her home before finally opening the front door and leaving.
Rushing from the house, Eliza hurries along the dirt driveway and away from the house. Off in the distance, just as she prepares to start her long journey into isolation, the faint sounds of sirens blaring begin surrounding the quiet neighborhood. Ducking out of the way, the travelling woman slides down the side of a hill just off of her driveway and hides behind a convenient rock, covering her mouth to assure the refusal of any unwanted noise.
A singular shot rings off from the direction she just came from, and a burst of light floods the dark home from the inside, only visible through the cracked kitchen window. Turning slowly, Eliza locks eyes on the only view point into her kitchen, hoping not to see another burst of light. Rather than light, Eliza watches on as Devine approaches the kitchen window and looks out into the dark treeline, locking eyes with the Lieutenant, unaware of her presence before he disappears further into the house.
Taking her moment, Eliza scrambles down the hill and leaps over a congregation of rocks acting as a barrier between the bottom of the slope and a backroad, leaping just inches past a cracked cell phone lying in its rock covered grave.
Screen dark and phone unresponsive the phone remains for a short few moments before the screen lights up once more, letting a weak flash of light engulf the ground.
1 New Voicemail:
I’ve been avoiding technology ever since. It’s not necessary, it just helps clear my head. I mean, if I made one wrong move that night, I’m not here. Maybe if I had mentioned anything about being on the phone with police, Devine would have been less compassionate with me.
Or maybe the woman he shot instead would still be alive.
Or maybe we’d both be dead and he’d try to pin it on me.
See why I need some space to clear my head? I didn’t want to fake my own death… But regardless of what I wanted or didn’t want to do, there’s no denying that it’s serving me more good to go along with it than against it.
Standing from her seat at the kitchen table, Eliza rounds the corner and climbs the dark staircase up to the second floor, rounding the bannister and heading for the end of the hallway, Eliza opens a door, releasing a plethora of different colored lights briefly enough to light the hallway up like a rave before disappearing into the room and shutting the door behind her, sealing with it the extraterrestrial-like nightlife beyond.
Fuzz like mechanical noise surrounds the lobby of a police station entryway as Josh pulls open the glass doors barricading the cold interior from the free outer world.
“First and last name, please?” The officer stationed at a sole desk beside the entrance to the building asks, prompting Josh to jump from surprise, not having noticed her the first time he scoured the building.
“Joshua Lane. I was asked to identify a body?”
Demeanor unchanged, the officer asks Josh to remove his shoes and allow a second officer to go through his pockets. “No pockets. I figured there’d be an inspection, so I wanted to make it as easy as I could.”
Removing his shoes, Josh watches an officer scope the overly-leathered penny loafers before nodding towards the first officer, prompting her to pick up the phone and place a call.
“We have a Mr. Joshua Lane here, he’s stating you’ve asked him to come identify a body.”
Consisting of mostly grunts, the conversation takes a few moments before the officer places the phone back to it’s holder, apologizing to Josh for his loss and thanking him for his compliance before directing him towards the end of the lobby.
Approaching the front desk, Josh repeats himself and his reason for being present to the front desk worker. “Okay Mr Lane, right this wa-” The desk worker begins, only to be cut off by some man hidden behind the front desk wall.
“I’ll let him know” The man says, prompting the desk worker to nod before the door to the interior cells swings open, and emerging from it is Lieutenant Devine, all smiles as he offers his hand to Josh.
This cocksucker. What problem do you want to facilitate now, lambchop?”
Refusing to shake his hand, Josh stares Devine in the eye, who takes note and lowers his hand, nodding. “Well, I want to thank you for your time, Mr. Lane. However, we’ve already had a family member come down and identify the body for us, so we’re sorry to have wasted it.”
“Family member?” Josh asks, “Eliza doesn’t have any family…”
Laughing to himself, Devine shakes his head and looks back at Josh. “Well she does. A brother. You might want to apologize to him for overlooking his grief since he just had to look at his sister with a bullet wound in her head. Quite the compassionate guy you are, Mr. Lane.”
Turning back into the lobby, Josh watches a man stricken with grief tucking his head in his hands seated in the uncomfortably-padded, doctors office-like chairs. Looking back to Devine, Josh is left speechless as the Lieutenant pats him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Mr. Lane” Devine says, smiling at Josh as he locks eyes with him.
“We’ll catch the person responsible for this heinous crime.”
Scouring at the Lieutenant, Josh’s breathing grows rapidly as the chess game continues.
“I’ll talk to you soon, Mr. Lane” Devine says, walking back to the door and getting buzzed in, disappearing behind the same heavy metal blockade the station divides itself from the rest of the world with.
Instantly poetic. Disappearing behind something you think will save you but in reality will do nothing.
You’re a snake, Devine. Your bite may be poisonous and your ability to camouflage with the dangers surrounding you is uncanny in resemblance to classic famous movie villains.
But when you have a villain that believes his bite is stronger than it truly is… Believes his ability to blend in makes him completely invisible from the most obvious of perspectives… Believes they have all the power necessary to get away with whatever they may choose…
They get bit.
I don’t care how far I need to slither to get to you, Devine. Because one way or another, some day and at some point... I’m going to catch you off guard…
And I’m… Going… To bite.