The hours had passed slowly and she had refused to talk. Her once beautiful face now was covered in blood and bruised and swollen. Andre had hit her so much that he had grown tired of swinging the gun and yet she refused to say anything. Rachel sat tied to an oak dining chair in the middle of the living room floor. She claimed that she didn’t love him anymore and could care less about what happened to him, but for reasons that Andre couldn’t fathom she wasn’t saying where he was hiding. Had he promised her some of the money? Was she really still in love with him? Or was it as she claimed, that she had no idea where he had gone.
The man that left in the BMW should be returning anytime and with him he would be bringing the bargaining chip that Andre knew would get some answers, her daughter.
“I’m only gonna ask you this one more time.” Andre shoved the barrel of his silver .45 hard against her forehead. “Where is your husband? When is he coming?”
“H-He’ll be h-h..ome in a minu..” her words struggled to come out. He could tell she was tired and in pain. Good.
“Not that husband. You know who I am talking about.”
“Ho’fully ne’er..” her head struggled to stay up, she fought the urge to fall into a sleep induced coma. “I to’d I ne’er want..ed to see h-him agai’.” her breathing was rapid and shallow. Her head started to hang between her shoulders limp at the neck.
Andre pushed her head up with the barrel of the gun but her eyes were closed and her limpness told him she was unconscious. He focused on her and never heard the car pull into the driveway. He was taken by surprise when the key in the door alerted him to the presence of company.
Moving quietly to the stained glass door he held the gun outstretched waiting for the man of the house to enter. The door slowly opened and blocked Andre’s view. The man he saw leave for work ten hours ago shut the door and sat the briefcase down on the floor of the marbled foyer. He tossed his keys into a bowl that sat on a table just inside the door and made his way to the living room, Andre followed quietly behind him. Where is the girl? Andre thought.
“Honey, I left..” He stopped as he turned the corner and saw Rachel sitting in the chair bound and covered in her own blood.
“Good evening Sir,” Andre said, pushing the gun to the back of his head. “I don’t think we’ve met.” He pushed the gun hard into the back of the mans head causing him to stumble forward. “Have a seat.”
The man sat down on a red sofa next to his wife.
“I am a friend of your wife’s ex-husband. I’m trying to find him. He owes me some money.”
The man started to stand, “I don’t see how any of this is our concern,” he said.
Andre swung hard hitting the man in his left temple with the butt of his gun. “Sit down,” he yelled. “Listen to me, I’m sorry what is your name we haven’t been properly introduced.”
“Henry,” he whispered.
“Well Henry, it is your concern because it seems he called your wife a couple days ago and she knows where he is and won’t tell me.”
“I’m sure your mistaken. Rachel hasn’t talked to Jacob in two years.”
Andre chuckled and strutted in his two hundred dollar shoes toward Henry. He plopped down next to him placing himself between Rachel and her husband.
“You see, Henry, Rachel here already admitted to me that she has spoken with Mr. Mallory and that he mentioned having some money, the money that he owes me. Now all I want your wife here to do is to tell me where he is and I’ll leave you two alone.”
“I don’t know how to help you Mr. Andre.”
“Its Andre, or Mr. Macklin,” he said. “I’m not your fucking neighbor.”
“Sorry. Its just that she seems to be unconscious and I need to get her to a hospital.”
“In time you will. If you coopperate with me.” He moved to the window and peered out looking at the dark street. “Where is your daughter?”
“She is not part of this do you hear me?”
Andre raised his gun and pulled the trigger. pfftt. He watched as cotton from the couch flew through the air as it got caught up in the circulation of the room and floated around like snow falling in the living room. Henry jumped, startled by the sudden outburst.
“Did you hear that?” He looked out across the street at the bush he had been hiding in earlier that morning where an elderly woman wrapped it in strings of Christmas lights. She continued on about her business as if nothing happened at her neighbors house.
Henry only shook his head.
“Neither did she. This has a silencer. No one will hear you die. Now where is Mr. Mallory’s daughter?”
“She is at my mother’s house.”
“And why is that?”
“I was planning a surprise evening for my wife.”
“Surprise.” Andre chuckled and moved away from the window.
“T-Thank yo.. Henr..” Rachel was regaining consciousness. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about…… Jacob calling, I just wanted to forget about it.”
“Its okay dear. We don’t have to do this now.”
“Oh yes you do.” Andre said. “I can very easily find your daughter. I found you, didn’t I?”
Rachel’s head rolled toward her purse that sat on the couch. “Get my cell phone. In the call log there is a 573 number that isn’t in my phone book. It’s him. That’s the best I can do.”
Andre dug through the purse until he found her phone and flipped through the call log. There it was, right between Henry and Mom. He selected the number and hit the send button. He held the phone to Rachel’s ear and waited.
At nearly six o’clock the sky was black and bar was booming. The after work crowd was gathering at the bar and the dining tables where filling up. No one would have guessed that just a couple hours ago there was a near shoot out here. Jacob sat at the very stool where he took that drink of Chevis just before he went to talk to Kelsey in the back. Then it all went to hell.
What was happening in this town? Blue sat another scotch in front of Jacob and he picked it up, sipping it. He crunched the ice between his teeth and sat the glass back onto the bar.
“Who were those guys, exactly? I’ve seen them on the corner when I was going to leave town a couple days ago.”
“I ain’t getting mixed up in none of this shit.” Blue said wiping the bar.
A man in a red t-shirt pulled up a seat next to Jacob. He tapped the bar and Blue sat down a Budweiser.
“Come on Blue, help a guy out? You seem like an up standing citizen and all, I wouldn’t want anyone to find out what happened here today?”
The man in the red t-shirt looked at Blue and cocked his head slightly, taking a swig of his beer. “What happened?”
“Nothing it was just a misunderstanding between a couple of friends.” He motioned for Jacob to follow him and told another bartender to watch the front. They scurried down the tiny hallway to the office.
“What the fuck do you think you are doing here?”
“Excuse me, I think I’m doing my job.”
“You would be better off to leave. Trust me on that.”
“I plan to, once I find what happened to that girl. Don’t you care what happened to her?”
Blue stood, unwavering. His body finally relaxed and he leaned against the stock small metal filing cabinet. “They work for a gangster named Rainbow. He deals in drugs, some gambling, which is what Jerry’s addiction is, and some prostitution. Everyone knows, not a lot can be proven.”
Jacob took another sip on his scotch. “Meth?”
“Some, from what I heard he deals mainly in hydroponic cronic and some pills.”
Jacob sat down at Blue’s desk and thought for a minute. Jerry really didn’t seem like the drug or illegal gambling type but after years of watching cheating spouses and insurance scammers he had learned that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover just like the saying goes.
“Where could a guy find him, this Rainbow?”
“That wouldn’t be smart. But say a guy was real stupid and wanted to talk to him about something that was none of his business, he could find him at an old abandoned garment factory just outside of town. Or at his house on Maple. But if that man had a lick of sense he would stay away or at least take a lotta heat.”
“Thanks Blue, you’ve been somewhat of a help.”
Jacob stood and his phone rang. His gut reaction was to ignore it because he most likely knew who it was and had no interest in talking to Kelsey. He let it go to voice mail. He barreled his way down the hallway and made his way toward the exit. He wanted a little conversation with this Rainbow. What the fuck kinda name is Rainbow?
As he left the parking lot and pulled onto the cobblestone streets of downtown his phone rang again. Ignore it, he thought. He let it go to voice mail again. She was a persistent little thing. Then it instantly started ringing again. He fought the urge to let it go but he couldn’t. He looked at the caller id and saw it wasn’t Kelsey at all. It was a number that he recognized very well. He had dialed the number thousands of times but never let it ring, not until two mornings ago.
“Hello?” he answered.
“J-Jacob, don’t h-hang up. Pl-please.” He knew the voice by heart. It was Rachel but she didn’t sound the same. Her speech was labored and slurred. “I have a message for you.”
“Rachel are you alright? What’s wrong? Is it Henry, did he hurt you?”
“It isn’t Henry, its Bob.”
Jacob thought for a moment. He didn’t know a Bob.
“I’m sorry dear, I don’t understand. Tell me what’s going on.” His heart began to race and his breathing grew rapid. He thought that he felt icy water pour from the palms of his hands. He glanced down at the speedometer and noticed his speed was getting excessive for the icy road. The slick road and his sweaty palms on the steering wheel where enough adverse conditions that even in a front wheel drive car he lost control for a second and dropped the phone into his lap. He grabbed he wheel with both hands and gently pulled the car to a stop near the railroad tracks where he had first met Bash and his toady Gordy.
After finding the phone and picking it up and placed it to his ear. “Hello, you still there?”
“Y-yes. Where are you Jacob?”
“Where are you at? Are you in Dublin?”
Jacob thought for a minute and wondered why she would be asking that question. She sounded a little drunk.
“No, I’m about two hours away, but I can be there shortly, what do you need?”
“You still have the money?”
“The money you promised me and Maggie?”
“Do you need it for something?”
“Maybe. Where are you, do you have it?”
“I haven’t touched it. It is for you, I didn’t want it.”
“Good, where are you?”
“Pine Bluff,” she repeated. But not like she was repeating it for memory but as if she was telling someone.
“Who’s Bob?” fearing he knew the answer.
“He said his name is Bo-Bob Seager.”
Jacob gunned the gas and pulled back onto the road. He knew what this was about and he knew that one of them was going to die. This was about the paper that he had handed to Andre in his office. The name of the witness that he had given to Andre was Bob Seager. At the time Jacob thought it was funny. Now it just pissed him off.
“Don’t come here, Jacob, he just left. He said if you aren’t in Pine Bluff, he’s coming after Maggie. Be there.”
Jacob stopped the car again, pulling into the abandoned grocery store where he had turned his car around a couple mornings ago. He sat. He wasn’t comfortable with the situation, Andre wasn’t one to leave witnesses alive, but if he thought it would keep Jacob in Pine Bluff he might just do it. For now anyway.
“Ray, listen to me carefully. Have Henry take you somewhere safe, out of Dublin preferably. Get Maggie and go to a hospital or some other place where there is security and a lot of people. Do not call the police yet. Wait for my call, then tell them what has happened. All of it if you have too.”
“I don’t know what’s happening.”
“Then you won’t have to lie.”
After twenty minutes he called back, they were in route to the hospital at Springfield, which was about a hundred miles from Dublin, but it was the best hospital in the area, the Ozarks aren’t overly populated so the hospitals that are close tend to be under funded and under manned, which might result in Andre being able to reach them rather easy.
“Don’t call the police until I call you back.”
“What if you don’t call back?”
“If you don’t hear from me by within a couple days then call the police in St. Louis, Springfield, and here in Pine Bluff.”
She said that she understood and they hung up the phone.
After circling the building several times and noticing three cars parked in the back up close to the building as to not be seen from the road he determined he was in the right place. He checked his Glock to make sure it was loaded and stepped out of his car. The factory’s grounds sat littered with old rusty equipment that must have been thrown from inside the once busy building.
In one hand he held his Glock and with the other hand he found a door and tugged on it, turning the knob slightly but it made no sound or any effort to move. The wall next to the door held a window with two broken panes and glass on both the inside and the outside of the building. Jacob cautiously reached his hand into the window like sticking his hand into a snake pit. He fidgeted with the door handle but it still didn’t move.
He moved to the north end of the building to where he had seen another door. As he approached he noticed something odd about the door. Some luck could be on his side, this door happened to be cracked. He stepped up quietly and peered into the lions den. Across the middle of the factory floor appeared to be an old office of some sort. Four two foot high walls made an area about nine by nine. The only light in the building came from two flickering florescent lights hung above a table that held three people. Two guys and a girl.
Jacob eased onto the factory floor. He looked around searching, but there wasn’t much in the way of cover anymore. He could imagine it at one time packed full of metal sewing machines and sweaty old ladies making blue jeans and shirts. He found a couple wooden crates to crouch down behind. He wanted to get a closer before making his appearance.
As he stepped to get behind the crates a large metal canister rolled off one of the tables that had become a home for spider webs and dust. The loud metallic bang echoed throughout the cavernous expanse of the factory. All three people surrounding the table jumped to their feet and drew their weapons aimed in Jacob’s direction. He holstered his weapon and stood with his arms raised.
“I’m sorry I knocked and the door was open.”
A man with short greasy black hair and arms in sleeves of tattoo’s pointed his gun at Jacob. Staring down the sights. “Who the FUCK do you think you are? You don’t come into my home without an invitation.”
“I’m sorry. I just have some information about an associate of yours.”
“Bash, maybe or Rowland. And a Gordy.”
“I don’t know what your talking about but I think you need to leave before you get shot, mutha-fucka.”
“Rowland came into Blue’s and roughed up my client. Now I didn’t have anything to do with it but he was taken to the police station by Detective Lawson. He was running his mouth that my client owed you some money.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Gambling, I think he said, I would get him out of jail before he keeps running his mouth about your operation if I were you.”
“Well you aint me mutha-fucka.”
Jacob could see he was getting no where. “I’d like to speak with Rainbow. Is he in? Its about his money, it really is that simple.”
The man with the bead on Jacob leaned into the ear of the girl who sat in short shorts and pink tank top. Her breasts, although obviously not in a bra, still stood at a perky C cup. They were most likely fake. Her legs were long and thin and her hair sat pulled back in a tight ponytail. How could these people dress like this with ice on the ground? She would have been beautiful once, before the meth had eaten away at her muscle and tissue causing her to be emaciated, her figure resembled a skin covered skeleton. She most likely was the “prostitution ring” that Blue had mentioned. The only person wearing a sweatshirt in this motley crew stood to the left of the table and Jacob recognized him from somewhere. He had been in this town too long if he was beginning to recognize people.
The man with the bead patted her bony shoulder and she picked up some cash off of the table then scurried off toward the door that Jacob had tried to enter first. The one by the cars.
“Come, have a seat.” he motioned to the chair that the skinny girl had left behind.
Jacob sat, his heart began beating fast and his stomach started to turn flip-flops.
“So this is about my money?”
“You see, Jerry is good for it. He just needs a little time to grieve at the moment?”
“And why would that be?”
The man who sat across from Jacob spoke up, “What about her?”
Jacob turned his attention to him. “You Rainbow?”
“No, I’m his brother. Names Charles.”
Then it hit him who he was talking to, “Damned Old Train, Charles?”
The man with bead spoke up again. “You’ve heard of my bother?”
“I seen him at Blue’s a couple nights ago and then I heard him on the radio. Good stuff. So your Rainbow?”
“May I ask how you got that name?”
“Name is Raymond, Charles called me Rainbow once when we were little and it stuck.”
“Oh, well like I said, just as a professional courtesy I would like it if you left Mr. Murphy alone for a few days. He lost his daughter and needs to grieve. Did you hear they found her body today?”
Charles squirmed in his seat, his arms crossed in front of him.
“No, I’m sorry I hadn’t. But so you know that has nothing to do with the fact he owes me ten g and I can’t run an operation with no cash flow, Mr.. I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name.”
“Nathan Collins. I am a Private Detective who was hired by Mr. Murphy to find his daughter.”
“But he couldn’t pay me? You look expensive. Maybe he should of invested his money more wisely, Detective. It seems you didn‘t help him much.”
“I’m not charging Jerry anything at the moment, and his company is going to pay the bill. But I did my job, she was dead long before I came to town.”
Charles spoke up, “You mean his daughters business.”
“I mean the company which he works for.” Jacob turns his focus back to Rainbow. “You wouldn’t know anything about her death, would you?” Jacob thought it never a good idea to come into some one’s home and start pointing fingers, especially when those people had guns aimed at you, but asking the questions where the only way to get the answers.
Rainbow fidgeted with the gun in his hand. He pointed it at Jacob, “You asking if I had something to do with that girls death, Mr. Collins?”
“I’m asking if you know anything about it?”
“And why would that be? Why would I know anything about a teenagers death?”
“Maybe you tried to send her father a message.”
“When I send messages, Mr. Collins, they come through loud and clear. There is no mistaking what I’m saying. If I wanted to make some one in Mr. Murphy’s life disappear I would’a made Mr. Murphy disappear. I can tell you that I had nothing to do with Haley’s disappearance or her death.”
Rainbow’s cell phone lit up and vibrated on the table. He picked it up and said a few ah-ha’s and then hung up.
“Piper, just bailed my guys out of jail. She said that Gordy has a gunshot wound in his leg. You wouldn’t have anything to do with that would you, Mr. Collins?”
“It is a scrape, I assure you. I handle a gun very well.”
“Well thank you for giving me the heads up on the arrest and I was able to get them out before they started talking too much. It seems I owe you.”
“It was nothing really.”
“Get out before Bash gets back. He’s pissed and when Bash is pissed I can’t control him. He likes his bat, you know. He got his nickname because he used to be obsessed with McGuire and Canseco when they played for the A‘s. Then he liked to hit things with his bat that wasn‘t a ball.”
Jacob got the hint. He received the message loud and clear