Jacob chose to make his escape by the cover of darkness. A flight out of the city headed in the direction that he needed to go was scheduled to depart at 9:10. But he decided that the two hours for security would liken his odds of getting spotted to something like the odds of a whore contracting an STD. Pretty damn good. So he decided to take the train home. Not too many people traveled by train anymore and the security was next to nothing. He had to worry about the ticket man but that was about it. Soon he would be holding his daughter in his arms. Something he’d missed greatly.
The Amtrak station was nothing like the solitude of the quite personal space that his office provided. There were people everywhere, and frankly it made him nervous. He hadn’t planned on so many people and it was probably due to the economy now that he thought about it. Cheaper than driving and flying. Surely his office was ash by now, along with everything inside, and the police shouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. Sleazy ex-cop turned sleazy P.I. and a gang banger had a shootout. Two dead shitbags and a shithole building burnt to the ground. To them it was probably a long unanswered prayer realized. He was sure they weren’t looking for him but he couldn’t be too careful. He got off the train at the first stop to stretch his legs and get the blood flowing back into them and was hit by the frigid winter air. Snow was falling in a near blizzard onto the deck of the train station, covering it in a blanket of thick wet snow. The sign above the entrance to the depot read “Welcome to Pine Bluff population 17,646”.
His blue blazer and jeans was nothing special, he always wore them when trying to blend in. A man in a blue button down shirt with a wiry face and a five o’clock shadow appeared out of nowhere, and tapped Jacob on his unrepentant shoulder, sending him into a startle. Jacob hadn’t seen him coming at all. The man began reaching for something behind his back, and out of instinct Jacob reached for his snub nose from the belt holster on his back. DAMN! It wasn’t there, left it on the junky. He looked around for a place to dive behind when the shooting starts. There had to be a bench or a table he could overturn like in the movies, something. That was when Jacob saw what he was packing. A stack of flyers.
“Excuse me sir,” The man said.
“I’m sorry I’m in a terrible rush, I only have a few minutes before my train departs again.”
“It will only take a minute of your time.”
“A minute is something I don’t have, and I don’t have any spare change.”
“No, I don’t want your money.”
The man continued to follow Jacob up the hallway that led into the lobby of the train station. He eyed the people in the room, looking for anyone that might give him trouble, then Jacob saw a big black man in his early thirties making his way toward him. He was wearing a light gray suit, his hair cut in a high and tight buzz cut, defiantly ex-military and most likely security.
Jacob turned to make his way back the way he had just come but now found himself face to face with the pursuer.
“It’s just my fifteen year old daughter is missing, and I need all the help I can get.”
He must have saw the look on Jacob’s face. “Do you have a daughter, sir?” He asked.
“Yes, she’s five, that’s actually where I’m headed now, to see her. It’s something I haven’t done in a very long time.”
The Big Man approached them quickly. “Mr. Murphy, I’m not going to tell you again to stay away from the customers.”
Jacob looked the Big Man in the eye. “It’s okay, Mr. Murphy and I are old friends.”
“Sure you are, well Andy has been warned several times to stay off the property or the next time he harassed someone he was going to jail.”
“Well, Jerry, and I have known each other for years. So I guess you’ll have to wait for the next time because Mr. Murphy isn’t harassing me.” The Big Man looked confused, but walked away, not far, but out of ear shot.
“How did you know my name? Are you psychic?”
Sometimes Jacob wished he was, he might not be in the mess he found himself in now, running to get out of a city he’d called home for four years. The fact of the matter was he did what he had been trained to do, find clues. “No, I used to be a Detective and I saw your name on the flyer your holding.”
“Well, thank you,” he said with a smile. “So have you seen her?”
Jacob took a good look at the picture, she was a beautiful young girl, full of life and happiness. Her long blonde hair flowing behind her as the wind blew in her face. She sat on a tire swing. A very lovely and homey picture. His heart, cold as it was, broke for her, and them, because he didn’t have to be a psychic to know she was dead.
He just looked Jerry in his sad eyes and said, “I’m sorry, I haven’t.”
She lay in her crib, her eyes rolling back in forth in haste under her tiny eyelids, obviously dreaming whatever a one year old would dream about. Her mother stood stoic in the doorway, arms crossed and her eyebrows turned down in a furrow when he pulled out of the drive. It killed him to leave them. But as harsh as it might have appeared, it was for their own good. He wasn’t worth being a father and a husband to them, what they needed, no what they deserved, was more than he could give. It’s not that he didn’t care enough about them to stay, he just couldn’t prioritize the things in his life. Well that wasn’t true, he did prioritize, he just hadn’t seen what was truly number one. Work had won. Like always.
But all that changed. He sat on that train waiting for it to leave this tiny town in the dust and he felt at peace for the first time in his life. Funny, to feel that way, he had to kill a man and become someone else.
He sat at the back of the train car in silence and watched the people taking their seats. One by one they walked slowly down the aisle, searching for their seats. Buses, trains and planes are always full of emotion. People are usually on there for an emotional reason. Weddings, births, deaths, vacations, honeymoons, and if you learn people like he had you can usually tell why they are there. The guy coming down the aisle now is a corporate pig, working everyday for the dollar but never sees his family, the wedding ring on his finger tells Jacob he’s married, it’s a little scuffed so a few years, and most men his age have at least one kid and an ex-wife, Jacob would know. He sits down with his lap top in the seat across the aisle from Jacob and immediately opens it up, workaholic.
The woman and man coming down the aisle next are a beautiful young couple, probable mid twenties, obviously honeymoon. He can also tell by the flowery shirt the jackass is wearing that they are going somewhere tropical, bastards, I’ll be freezing my ass off.
You get the point.
Jacob grew tired of watching people and his nerves began to be tested when he looked at his watch. Ten fifteen. The train should have departed ten minutes ago. He decided to close his eyes for a few minutes and drifted into darkness. He wished he had dreamed of his wife and daughter in those few moments but he hadn’t. All he remembered seeing before he woke to what he thought was the force of the train jerking to a start was actually the face of Andre. That prick and baby killer.
But when he opened his eyes Jacob saw another large black man. The Big Man pushed him back in the seat, shaking him.
“Sir, we are deboarding,” he was saying, apparently several times.
“What,” Jacob forced out the response. “We just got on.”
“Yes, sir. Everyone is being asked to leave the train. All routes are cancelled until the ice is cleared from the tracks, could be morning”.
“Where’s the bus station?”
“Sorry pal but the interstate is closed as well. The bridges are iced over. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t damage to them from all the ice. My guess is that the train won’t be going for a couple days. Maybe a week. Depends.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“I suggest getting a hotel. But I can tell you this. You aren’t leaving Pine Bluff tonight.”