Early morning sunlight rose over the tree lined horizon, not quite breaking the night that still hung over the rusty abandoned factory. The smell of winter lays thick in Charles’ nose as he pushed the gangster through the heavy metal door.
Piper stood next to a tan metal folding chair and a long piece of rope snaked through her hands. Charles felt the gangster move and wriggle, trying to get free from the zip ties that bound his hands behind his back.
“Fuck you mutha-fucka,” the gangster yelled over his shoulder at Charles and Raymond, who followed a mere three steps behind.
Charles heard the KRRRKKK of the duct tape as Piper pulled it from its thick cardboard tube.
“Don’t,” Raymond said from the back of the line, “he’s going to need to talk.”
BANG!, the sound of metal clanging as it fell to the concrete floor echoed through the nearly empty plant. Charles’ head whipped around to find where the sound had come from. Standing just to the left side of the door in which he had just entered stood Gordy, his gun trained on the gangster.
“Fuck man!” Charles said as he threw the gangster into the chair, knocking it back and sending him to the floor. “You trying to kill somebody?”
“What you talking about?”
“You gave me a heart attack.”
“Fuck you all!” the gangster yelled as he pushed himself up with his knees.
Raymond reached under his arm, grabbing him by the bicep, and pulled him onto the chair.
“Tie him up.” he said to Piper.
The gangster lowered his head and tried to wipe sweat from his face with his shoulder. Charles could see the man vibrating with anger as the metal chair scooted across the floor. He shook and kicked his feet in an attempt to escape with the chair and all. Charles couldn’t help but find the scene a bit humorous.
A loud smack of flesh meeting flesh reverberated throughout the factory as Raymond’s fist lands on the gangster’s cheek. He doesn’t make a sound, but blood began to poor from his nose.
“We’re going to get right to it,” Raymond says as he drags another chair and sets in front of the gangster. “What’s your name and why are you here?”
“Fuck you,” he replies. He lowers his head to wipe the blood but with his hands behind his back his efforts are fruitless.
Charles eyes drift to the ceiling as he stands, he turns his back and heads for the door.
“Where you going,” Raymond asks.
Charles stops ten feet from the door. “Out.”
“Nope, I might need you.”
Charles took a deep breath and built up the air in his lungs to let out a sigh. But instead he held it in, just like he had with everything that had came before with his brother. Instead he leaned against a piece of rusty machinery that stood between the door.
“Now,” he turned his attention back to the gangster. “What is your name and what are you doing here?”
“FFFUUUCCCKKK YYYOOOUUU!” he drug out the words.
Flesh on flesh echoed throughout the room again and blood now ran from his eye.
Raymond motions toward Piper and does the ‘come here’ finger. She moves toward him slowly and places a gun in his lap. The gangster lets a laugh that would send a chill down most men’s spines, but Raymond only picks up the gun and places it to his head.
“One more time and I don’t wanna hear anything ‘cept answers.”
The gangster lets out a sigh as loud as his laugh, “Fine it don’t fuck’n matter anyway. My name is Andre Macklin and I’m here to kill Jacob Mallory, then I’ll be outta your little shithole of a town.”
His eyes furrow and Charles knew that Rainbow was confused. He hadn’t told his brother about Jacob. He really didn’t think it mattered.
“Who the fuck is Jacob Mallory,” Raymond asks.
Charles releases his butt from his seat and moves over toward his brother. “Nathan Collins.”
“What, I’m confused.”
“Nathan Collins is Jacob Mallory.”
“Ok, so who is Nathan Collins?”
Piper steps up, happy she knows something instead of being eye candy for Raymond. “He is the man looking for that little girl.”
A sudden light of recognition shoots onto his face. “Oh, so what does that have to do with us?” he asks Andre.
“It fuckin’ don’t.”
The metal folding chair flies across the room as Raymond jumps to his feet. He leans right into Andre’s face, “Then why did you shoot Bash?”
“Who, I ain’t shot nobody, yet.”
Red and blue lights flashed in the rearview mirror as Jacob turned his Prius onto the tree lined road that headed out of town toward the river. He knew that it as a sheriffs SUV and he was pretty certain who sat behind the wheel of the vehicle. He wasn’t in the mood for an O.J. Simpson episode so he pulled the Prius off to the virtually non-existent shoulder.
The side view mirror is filled with the reflection of the signature blue jeans and blouse that are at the center of Detective Kelsey Lawson’s wardrobe. Today seemed to a be a satin mauve blouse that hung low in the neckline revealing the cleavage of her tiny, perky breasts which gave a slight bounce as she strutted toward the window of the car. She reached to peck on the window but Jacob already had it rolled down.
“What can I do for you Officer Lawson?” He asked.
“It’s Detective,” she replies. “I think you knew that already, so I hope you weren’t being condescending.”
“Not at all Detective, just a slip up on my part,” he reaches for the glove box.
“Excuse me, but what are you doing,” she said as she slammed her hand on her side arm.
“Just getting license and registration.”
“I don’t think I asked for that.”
“Sorry, then why did you pull me over?”
“Just making sure your headed outta town.”
A shot of anger began to grow inside Jacob as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I would be out of town already, had you not stopped me.”
“I see, but this way doesn’t really get you that far out of town. You really need to be on the interstate.”
“Just have to make a quick pit stop then I’m headed that way. Detective.”
Kelsey looked up and back down the road. With the early morning light making its debut above the trees that line both sides of the river the road wasn’t busy yet, but it is bound to get that way soon.
“Mr. Collins I think it would be advisable if you get out of town as soon as possible. I would hate to have to put handcuffs on you, again.”
Jacob looked her up and down, her athletic body showed well through the tight jeans and loose shirt but he didn’t like the trouble that would follow another romp with her. However fun it might be.
“Kelsey, I like you, I really do but…”
“Relax, Mr. Collins, it was a joke, but it might not be a bad idea, sounds like you might need some protection from the likes of Tony Preston.”
“Nah, he just got a good jump on me. If I saw him in the open street I think I could take him.”
“Lets make sure that doesn’t happen. You should probably run along now, have a good life, Nathan,” she said as she gave a him a wink and pats the door. “Or should I call you Jacob?”
Whatever he thought he had known about this girl he decided was completely wrong. He had once written her off as someone who was terrible at her job and didn’t deserve to wear a badge, but how had she figured out his true identity? Then he remembered the serial number on the gun, she had promised him that she would run the numbers and it was obvious, now, that she had and the name had come back, as he knew it would, Jacob Mallory. He could have told her that he borrowed the gun or bought it from some guy and hadn’t registered it yet but he figured it wouldn’t have done much use to lie. The fact was that he wanted to get out of Pine Bluff, leave Jerry and Haley and Kelsey and the whole town in his rearview mirror and never think of them again.
But as much as he wanted to leave the whole mess behind he also knew that he couldn’t let Haley become another Andy Stafford. If Kelsey would have put as much effort into finding Haley’s killer as she did into finding out everything she could about Jacob she could have had this case solved before he ever showed up.
As he sat in his warm Prius staring at the rusty warehouse something else bothered Jacob, although the funeral had been packed and Jacob probably didn’t see everyone who had been there, he remembered that he hadn’t seen Kelsey, so begged the question, when had she talked to Jerry to know about Tony Preston. He had been the only person who knew about what had happened.
Blistering cold hit Jacob’s face as he stepped from the warmth into the frigid morning air. The corroded van told him that Charles was inside. He felt his heart begin to race as he stepped to the heavy metal door and placed his ear against it feeling the icy cold. He instantly hoped his ear wasn’t wet, he would hate to have it stick to it like a tongue to a flag pole.
Jacob only heard silence as his ear pressed nervously to the door. He moved to a cracked window near the entryway. The white wooden frame of the window had paint flaking off and revealed the ashen color of the rotting wood beneath it. The six pane window only held four glass panels and they where cracked, ready to fall in at any moment.
He peered through the window, looking past the ancient machinery and to the lone card table where he had talked to the gangsters only a few days before. The florescent light above that hung from a chain swung lazily back and forth casting slight shadows onto the walls and revealing a cluster of people standing near the rear of the building.
Tap, tap. Jacob turned at the pecking on his shoulder to see Charles standing over him with a his hands on his hips.
“Can I help you?”
“Just needing to ask a few more questions before I head out of town.”
“Why ask questions if your leaving?”
“My piece of mind,” Jacob said, finally standing to face Charles.
“You ever think of knocking, instead of spying on people,” Charles asked motioning toward his van, “I was just about to leave, it’s a good thing it wasn’t my brother that came out here. You probably would have a hole in your head right now.”
The couple walked to the van and Jacob slid inside.
“I don’t think I can help you much more than I have already.”
“Sure, I need to know all you can tell me about Tony Preston.”
The van cranked to life as Charles turned the key. It rumbled and shook almost violently under Jacobs feet.
“I think you need to get out Mr. Collins, or Mr. Mallory whoever the fuck you are.”
How does he know too? It is definitely time to get out of Dodge. But first…
Jacob pulled the gun from his pocket and placed it on his lap. “I just want to know what kind of relationship he had with you and, or, with Haley.”
“Jesus, really? I think your chasing a dead end.”
“Just humor me.”
“He made meth for us, I mean for BBS and that is it.”
“What about Haley?”
“Not sure that he had one.”
Jacob cocked the hammer back on his gun.
“Fuck man, easy. I got three guys in there itching to shoot someone, give ‘em a reason.”
“I don’t want to shoot anyone but I will if I have to.”
“As far as I know the only time they ever even met was a time she went with me to get a shipment once from the trailer. He barely even looked at her.”
“Yeah man, I swear..” a shot went to his face, he remembered something and his mouth dropped agape.
“She went by herself to pick up an order right before she disappeared, maybe a week. I went out of town and she gave me the stuff when I got back.”
Jacob released the hammer from its ready position. “Take me to the trailer, I need to speak to Tony, seems I owe him a punch to the face anyway.”
“That probably isn’t a good idea.”
“I don’t think he’ll be there.”