This was a bit of an experiment. I’m sure the grammar nazis will have much to say about my punctuation. I’m still one week behind my weekly challenge…
“Omg girl, where have you been?”
“You’re not going to believe this. I was having a salad at that sidewalk café on Main St…”
“Oh, did you have that one with the kale and quinoa?”
“No, I like the one with the spinach and strawberry vinaigrette.”
“That’s really good, too.”
“Anyway, I was just digging in when this cute guy throws himself into the other seat at my table. He grabs a roll of silverware off the next table and gets a forkful of my salad.”
“Rude! Wait, how cute was he?”
“He looks like Ryan from All My Friends.”
“Oh yeah, he’s hot.”
“Pretend we’re together for a few minutes and I’ll make it worth your while.” He says.
“Did you tell him to get lost?”
“I would have, but then, these other guys come running down the street. One stops right in front of us. I can see a gun in his jacket.”
“Did you cover for the guy?”
So, he whispers in my ear, “Pretend that I’m telling you something flirty.”
“I kind of smile and giggle. The guy with the gun finally moves on.”
“Thanks.”, The guys says, sitting back in his chair.
“Then he throws a twenty on the table and runs off.”
“Twenty? That’s making it worth your while?”
“Well, I didn’t even have time to care about that. The guys with the guns came running back. The one that had stopped before looks at me.”
“Where’s the guy that was sitting with you?”, he asks.
“Um…he went to the bathroom?”, I say.
“Wait, why did you cover for him?”
“They had guns. I didn’t want to seem like I was a part of whatever was going on.”
“Oh, that’s smart.”
The guy says, “Bathroom? I have reports of a man matching his description running out of the other entrance.”
I say, “Well, he told me that’s where he was going.”
Another of the guys, comes back and says, “We’ve looked at camera footage from three different businesses. It was him.”
The first guy says, “Ma’am, I’m not sure how you fit into all of this but, you’re going to have to came with us.”
I say, “I’m not going anywhere with you. What’s going on anyway?”
The man pulls out his wallet and shows me a FBI badge. He tells me, “I’m agent Rice. The man that sat at your table was Heathcliff Ross. He’s an international jewel thief. We’ve been chasing him since his bus pulled in yesterday.”
I say, “Okay, so what does any of that have to do with me? I mean, the guy just sat down and asked me to play along.”
Rice says, “Ross is very good at hiding his identity. He’s so good that none of us have seen his face. You have. He doesn’t usually leave witnesses like this. We need to get you somewhere safe.”
“I’m sorry but I have to get going. It’s my friend’s dog’s birthday.”, I explain.
He says, “Your friend’s dog? Ma’am you’re in danger?”
“Hold up, did you explain how important Mr. Tinkles is? And how his pool party birthday is the bash of the whole summer?”
“I tried. Before I knew it, they were loading me and my salad into a van.”
“Wait. Why the salad?”
“He ate some of it. They wanted his DNA. They grabbed the fork and napkin, too.”
“Was the van like the ones on tv? Was it full of cool equipment and computers?”
“No, it was just a windowless van with benches along either side. Agent Rice sat across from me. I couldn’t see where we were going, but we were going fast. I almost slid off when we hit a sharp corner. Then we slammed to a stop and this other guy gets in.”
Rice says, “Emily, this is Stanley. He’s a sketch artist. I need you to tell him everything you remember about Ross.”
“You gave them your real name?”
“I had to, they went through my purse when we got in the van. They saw my license. So, I start to tell them, just like I told you. Agent Rice sighs at me.”
He says, “We need a description.”
I say, “I just did.”
Stanley says, “He looks like a guy from a tv show, isn’t a description.”
I say, “Well that’s not my fault.”
Rice says, “Maybe it is. Maybe you think Heathcliff Ross is cute and want to help him. Maybe you are actually his accomplice and that’s why he showed you his face.”
I say, “That’s crazy. You think I might be an international jewel thief?’
“He starts to say something, but it feels like we hit a bump. The van shook so hard, I banged my head on the wall. The van rocks a second time and Stanley gets knocked on to the floor. Agent Rice goes up front to see what’s going on.”
“He tells us to Hang on to something because we’re being rammed.”
“Rammed? Like in the movies?”
“Yeah, except movies don’t show how much it hurts. We were thrown around the van. I landed on Stanley twice before I just stayed on the floor. The salad is going everywhere. Finally, the van spins, I almost throw up, and we hit something really hard. I sit up as, the back door opens, and this woman is standing there with a gun.”
“Come with me, now.”, she says to me in an accent.
“Not so fast, Malta.” Stanley says.
“I look over at him. He has his own gun and it’s pointing at the woman. I think, I’m about to get in the middle of a gun fight. The only weapon, I have is the fork that I’m sitting on.”
“What could you do with a fork? I mean, she had a gun.”
“You know that I took those self-defense lessons at the gym.”
“MY trainer didn’t mention forks but, I wasn’t going to get kidnapped without a fight.”
“You go girl.”
“Well, I have my fork ready but, Agent Rice comes out of nowhere and tackles the woman. They both go flying back out the door. Stanley and I both go to watch. They’re fighting in the dirt.”
Malta says, “We just want the girl.”
Rice says, “You know I can’t let you have her.”
She’s out of breath as she punches, “We’re going to get her one way or another.”
“I jump when I hear a bang and Stanley falls back into the van. It takes me a minute to realize that he’s been shot.”
“Not Stanley, he’s my favorite. Is he okay?”
“I don’t get a chance to find out because, someone grabs my shoulder. My self-defense training worked because I turn around and aim for the face with my fork.”
“Did It work?”
“Yes, I get the guy right in the eye. He’s screaming, I’m screaming, and there’s blood everywhere. The fork is just stuck there. Suddenly, there’s a lot of FBI people and an ambulance. Agent Rice leads me to a car and lets me clean the blood off my hands.”
“Well that was dramatic.”, he says.
“Dramatic? I guess if you work in the FBI, you see this kind of stuff all the time but, I don’t. It’s a lot more than dramatic for me.”, I say.
For the first time ever, I see him grin. He says, “Even in the FBI, I don’t see people get stabbed with forks, very often.”
Another agent comes over, she says, “Malta and the others got away but, we have Morris in custody. He’s on his way to the hospital. Stanley is too, he should be alright. It was just a flesh wound. The good news is, Morris is already talking. He says, someone is paying them to get something back that Ross stole. Ross told them that he would trade them for the girl.”
Rice says to me, “Wait here, I want to talk to him myself.”
“He locks me in, like I’m some kind of criminal. At least he leaves it running so I’m not hot. That’s when I saw the time on the clock and I realized that I was totally missing your party.”
“Why didn’t you call me?”
“They took my phone with my purse. It was still in the crashed van. All I had on me was the twenty that I’d shoved in my pocket. Anyway, Rice comes back and gets in the driver’s seat.”
“Morris didn’t have anything to add. I’m taking you to a safehouse.”, he says.
I tell him, “Just take me home. Ross doesn’t know where I live or anything.”
“Malta and Morris are very bad people. They’re a lot more dangerous than Ross. They will find you.”
I say, “Well can I have my purse and phone?”
He says, “The van is already on its way to the yard. We’ll get it later.”
“You know, the last person who tried to kidnap me got stabbed with a fork.”, I say, trying to sound brave.
He smiles, as he says, “I’ll be careful.”
“He drives us to Fairhope.”
“That gated community where the mayor lives?”
“Yup, Rice just punches in a code and the gate opens. Then we pull up to a driveway with its own gate and code. The house is a mini-mansion.”
As we pull into the garage, Rice says, “This was a mafia Don’s place. On paper the house was auctioned off after we put him in jail.”
“The place is huge. It’s all done with modern furniture, not my taste at all.”
“Ugh. I hate that, you’ve got to have a little personality in your house.”
“This place looked like a showroom at a furniture store.”
Rice says, “Make yourself at home. There’s plenty of food in the kitchen.”
I say, “is there a shower and maybe something I can wear that’s not covered in dirt from the van and Morris’s blood?”
He says, “There’s five bathrooms and six bedrooms full of stuff upstairs. Help yourself.”
“You should have seen this place. Each room I looked in was bigger than the last. Most of the showers were big enough to have a party in. Then, I find the closet. It was full of designer clothes, all in my size. And, all the way in the back was a secret door to the most amazing bathroom I’d ever seen.”
“Did you take any of the clothes?”
“Most of it was way out of date but, I found a few things that I wanted. When I come out of my extra- long shower. I wrap myself in the softest bathrobe ever and I hear shouting from downstairs.”
“Where is the girl?”, I hear.
“I sneak to the top of the stairs. Malta and two guys have Agent Rice tied to a kitchen chair.”
“Tell me, you found a window to jump out of.”
“No, I started trying to think of a distraction, so I could free Rice.”
“Well, while I was standing there, a hand covers my mouth.”
“I need your pants.”, Heathcliff Ross whispers.
“What?”, I whisper back.
“That twenty I gave you, I saw you put in your pocket at the restaurant.”
“Well, I realized that I had my distraction. I turned sharply, and he went tumbling down the stairs. I had to hold on to the bannister to keep from falling myself. He landed right at Malta’s feet.
Malta asked, “What are you doing here?”
“In the minute that everyone was looking at him, I snuck down and hide behind the loveseat. From there, I could untie Rice without notice.”
Ross says, “Looking for the girl. If I get to her first, I owe you nothing. With all the noise you alerted her, she’s probably long gone now.”
Malta says, “Or she’s behind that couch.”
“I looked over and saw that there’s a mirror right next to me. I stand up as the two bad guys run at me. Agent Rice jumps up and tackles both of them. One gets knocked out right off but the other puts up a fight. Malta comes at me from the other direction. I manage to dodge her. Rice is now fighting with Ross. They knock into me and I fall on Malta. I hold her down until Agent Rice finishes with Ross. We’re just tying them up as Rice’s backup shows up.”
Agent Rice says, “I can’t believe Ross risked so much just to get you.”
I say, “Oh on the stairs, he wanted the twenty he gave me earlier.”
“I go up and get it out of my pocket.”
“So, did you figure out what was so special?”
“Yes, it had the number of a locker at the bus station and the combo for the briefcase full of jewels that was in it. I spent the rest of the night at the FBI headquarters. I finally got my purse back and a ride home about an hour ago.”
“I kind of think you just made all that up because you didn’t want to come to my party.”
“Fine then I guess you don’t want the dress I found for you, or meet Agent Rice.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”