The pounding on the door of the trailer sounded like a hollow thump on a ripe watermelon. Charles stood next to Jacob with the gun trained on him, convincing him not to move.
“Doesn’t look like anyone is home,” Charles says.
Jacob took a step off of the concrete stairs that lead to the thin aluminum door and into the gravel ‘yard’. He moved around the front of the tiny single wide trailer that more resembled stainless steel Airstream RV of the nineteen fifties. Although it had been a long time since it had seen its hay-day. Now it sat on a red gravel lot with dead, brown, stinkweed grown up around it. Its green paint had long since tarnished and the thin aluminum siding had, like many other things in this town, began to rust.
Behind the house and to the right between an old half fallen in barn lay a tiny pond about a half acre in circumference. Jutting out from the front of the pond into the middle stood an dock that, fifteen years ago would have looked brand new with fresh white maple stained a light honey color and shining in the hot summer sun. But now it stood, like the barn, half fallen in and rotting beneath its self, collapsing into the pond. Cattails protruded from shallows of the pond itself, inching further and further out into the middle making the pond look smaller than it actually was.
Something resonated with Jacob about the pond, he couldn’t take his eyes off of it, it looked like a million other neglected ponds but it was what the pond should have looked like that put Jacob at unease.
The door behind them swung open and a man stepped out holding a shotgun, pointed at Jacob. He ignored Charles altogether which made Jacob think that they, in fact, knew each other.
“What can I do ya for?” His mouth moved, however not with the words but like he had been dubbed over like in a martial arts film, and it was mumbled so Jacob barely understood the man through his thick southern accent.
“Just need to speak to Tony.”
The man pumped the shotgun, sending an unspent shell flying across the yard.
“That seemed kind of silly,” Jacob said moving toward the man.
BOOM! The shoot landed at Jacob’s feet sending gravel and mud flying up onto his pants.
“Next one won’t miss.”
“Hope not, cause you only got one left in there.”
“Chokes out, got enough to put you down.”
Jacob removed his gun from Charles and placed it in his belt on his waist.
“I aint’ here to cause anyone any trouble,” he raised his hands into the air. “Just looking for Tony.”
The man shot a look over Jacob’s shoulder to Charles standing behind him. The looked seemed to be one of confusion.
“Balding guy, swastika tattoo on his neck, kind of smelly?”
The man turned his attention back to Jacob, “I know who the fuck he is. He aint’ here. Won’t be back.”
“See that aint’ good. He came into my room and roughed me up a little bit and I want to know why.”
“That’s easy, he wanted his stuff back.”
“He saw you down where that girl got killed and thought maybe you had what she hid.”
Charles stepped up, “What are you talking about?”
“That bitch took some stuff to give to you guys and Rainbow said you never got it. We had to get you more at no cost.”
“I got the shit and gave it to him the next day.”
Jacob slid close to the door while the two men argued at the steps. He reached up and pulled the shotgun from the mans hand and with a fling it landed in the pond.
“What the fuck?” the man screamed.
“It wasn’t about the journal,” Jacob asked.
“The one that Haley had left there, that talks all about everyone in her life. I’m assuming your name either starts with a K or Ti.”
“Ti, my names Tiger. Donald Adams, but folks call me Tiger. Don’t know why.”
Now everyone had a face, almost everyone. “Who is K?”
“That would be King. He won’t be back either,” he said chuckling to himself.
“And the Lady in Blue?”
“Don’t know that one.”
As they slid back into the decrepit van Jacob couldn’t help but wonder who the Lady in Blue was and why this place had felt so familiar to him.
All the way back to the abandoned factory Charles talked to his brother on the phone, with a lot of ‘ah huhs and yeah, yeahs he tried not to alert Jacob to what had been going on at the hideout. Charles knew that of all people Jacob would probably be the least likely to say anything. However it wasn’t Jacob finding out that worried him, it was Raymond finding out about him taking Jacob to the meth makers trailer. No one was supposed to go there, in fact the only people that had known where it stood hidden were himself and Raymond, and the three meth makers, and of course Haley. Why had she gone there alone, he warned her that she shouldn’t have.
Why couldn’t he have just done what his brother wanted and put a bullet into Tony Preston when he had the chance.
“Can I ask you something, Charles,” Jacob asked, breaking the silence.
“Sure, I guess.”
“How did you know who I was?”
Ha, ha, Charles laughed. “Well this guy shows up wearing fur and alligator shoes…”
“Yeah. Anyway he started asking about some dude who showed up here. You where the only new guy in town and I put two and two together.”
“Guess you told Kelsey.”
“What, no. I avoid that bitch,” Charles said hitting his blinker, gravel crunched under the tires as he turned into the factory parking lot.
“She told me you guys slept together.”
“Ha, ha, ha, yeah, biggest mistake of my life. She was the first groupie chick I banged,” he can’t believe how easy it was to open up to Jacob. He guessed it really didn’t matter after what was about to happen. His stomach lurched up and down as he felt sorry for Jacob. He actually kind of liked the guy, and hoped everything would turn out for him.
“Yeah me too,” it surprised Charles to hear him say that. “I ran into her at Blue’s, during one of your gigs actually, and I thought I would be heading out of town, didn’t really work that way.”
Charles pulled slowly through the parking lot and around the building, he took his time. Not because he was interested in what Jacob had to say, but more delaying the inevitable confusion that everyone was about to be facing. He reached for the radio and turned the volume to where it was audible.
‘I’m sorry that I made you go away
I’m sorry that you couldn’t stay
That you had to find another way
I’ve held you in my heart …’
“The crazy bitch found out who I was and now she won’t stop harassing me.”
“She won’t until your gone. She still pulls me over and it’s been six months. She actually pulled me over leaving the trailer last week. I had a load full of meth and she just wanted to flirt. She’s crazy man.”
“Hmmm. Yeah, she’s crazy alright.”
‘I’m sorry that I loved you
I’m sorry that you don’t
I’m sorry that I didn’t see
How your mind wouldn’t let your body want me…’
“Well here’s your car. But I have a proposition for you
Jacob stopped mid slide, one foot out the door and nearly touching the ground. “Shoot.”
‘I’m sorry that I must go
It’s something I must do
I do it every night to get away from you
I feel the fingers like razors through the pain
I’m sorry that I’ve lost so much
But I will never be sane
Jacob couldn’t believe what Charles had just told him. And in fact he didn’t. If he walked into the factory unarmed and of his own free will he was asking to be shot. Gangsters don’t take lightly to people treading on their territory and Jacob knew that he had been less than friendly to them. He just hoped this Bash fellow wasn’t in there. He didn’t want to deal with the animosity that ran between them. But he knew Andre and he knew that he would have never allowed himself to be taken alive by a couple two bit thugs who were playing bad ass. But he also knew that it might be the only way to find out if Charles and Tigers story held water.
If Raymond, had indeed, lied to the Nazi meth makers about receiving the goods and they felt that Haley had stolen it, it would have been the perfect motive to have killed her. And they certainly had the means by which to have gotten the job done.
“Fine, I’ll go talk to them. Maybe clear up some of the confusion. But I can assure you that the man, if in deed there is one in there, isn’t Andre Macklin. I don’t see him allowing you to take him.”
“I assure you Mr. Mallory that it is.”
As the door creaked open Charles whispered in his ear, “Please don’t mention that you were at the trailer.”
“But I thought I could ask some questions in return for answering some.”
“Just say we were somewhere else. The Starbucks for all I care.”
“Fine I like mocha latte’s.”
When Jacob’s eyes fell on the individual tied to the chair, with blood pouring from his nose and mouth and eyes, he hardly recognized him as the man who had laid dying on the floor of his office a few days ago. He didn’t look like the man that had taken the lives of countless people, at least two of which were innocent. He most certainly didn’t resemble the violent drug dealer pimp that he was. He looked helpless and scared, but it was in fact Andre. And Jacob didn’t like the fact that he was sitting there. Jacob also didn’t like the fact that next to Andre sat in an empty chair.
Raymond sat straddling a chair that he had turned around backwards. His knuckles held the evidence of who in fact had inflicted the blows onto Andre.
“Please, take a seat, Mr. Mallory,” Raymond said, motioning with his bloody hand to the empty chair. He scanned the room and recognized the tweeker chick they called Piper, the toady they called Gordy and Raymond. Of course Charles stood by watching as well, but what surprised him was that he hadn’t seen Bash anywhere. But from the condition that Andre had found himself in Jacob didn’t think that Raymond was a better option.
“Do I have too?”
“I think it would be best.”
Jacob glanced at his lap and saw a bloody gun sitting idle, he had pistol whipped him.
“Yeah, your probably right.” Jacob took a seat in the chair. “What’s up old buddy?”
“Fak ooo,” his mouth was swollen but Jacob was pretty sure that he said ‘fuck you’.
“Let’s get right to it, Jacob,” Raymond said.
He didn’t exactly feel that there was an option involved. He wondered if there was anyway to speed this up, he really wanted to get his turn at the questions.
“So if your not DEA, or FBI and your no longer a cop, why did you come to Pine Bluff and start snooping around my business?”
“It really didn’t have anything to do with you, and I had no idea that it would lead me here. I got off of the train and saw Jerry, and that pitiful look in his eye did something to me and I couldn’t help but lend him the resources that he needed to find his daughter. I didn’t think I would be here, like this.”
Andre sat listening to the liar as he spun his tale. He might not have meant to get involved in their business but he didn’t come here all innocent either.
Numbness began to creep over his face, and he could barely feel the swelling in his mouth and eyes. But he knew that it was happening because he could barely talk and his vision had become blurry. He ran his tongue across his teeth looking for more than five, but no matter how many time he counted that had been the number that he came up with.
“So I guess its my turn.”
“Excuse me?” The leader said.
“Charles said that if I answered all of your questions you would answer some for me as well.”
“Ha, ha, ha, sure. I don’t think its gonna matter.”
“Why is that?”
“Someone isn’t leaving here today. I know that one of you killed Bash and I want to know who it was. Ask me your questions and we will get back to the issue at hand.”
Jacob shook his head, “I had nothing to do with Bash, getting shot, I promise you that.”
“Fine we will discuss it later. I have all day and night.”
“Did you have anything to do with Haley’s death?”
“Absolutely not, Mr. Mallory, we told you that at our last meeting and I assure you that no one here would have any reason to kill that girl.”
“Sure about that, Raymond?”
“One hundred percent.”
“Okay, what about the fact that you never got your shipment and your little trailer trash had to make you some more. Someone had to pay for that, didn’t they?”
Raymond stood up and moved closer to Jacob, please hit him, Andre thought. But to his dissatisfaction he didn’t.
“We got our shipment, I told Tony that so he would get us some more. You can’t blame a guy for trying to make an extra buck.”
“Except it pissed them off.”
“They didn’t do it, either, none of them are smart enough to do anything about it.”
“But they were watching the park and Tony thought I found a stash when I found her journal.”
“They were following you,” he said. “If they had known something was at the park it would have been gone by now.”
Andre’s head fell to his chest, he slipped in and out of consciousness. His mind grew foggy as he listened to their banter. But the tension grew and he knew that someone in this room would pay for the death of their own. And eye for an eye.
“What about your brother?”
“Charles? What are you talking about?”
Charles stood and ran to Jacob. He through a punch that landed square on Jacob’s jaw. Finally someone hit him, Andre thought.
“That song, of yours, ‘I’m Sorry’.”
“Yeah,” Charles said.
“That your song?”
“I might have had a little help. Why?”
“Doesn’t sound like the song of a twenty year old boy. More like the angst of a fifteen year old girl to me.”
“It sells, that’s the name of the game, right?”
Andre couldn’t feel anything in his entire body now, and he was barely able to make out there conversation. Then as he thought one last time about how much he hated Jacob Mallory his head began to pound and felt like a someone was dropping an anvil repeatedly onto his head, then with nothing else he slipped into blackness.
Jacob had realized in the van that the song didn’t sound like the man that he had come to vaguely know. It seemed a good motive, he knew how to use a gun, and if he knew Haley as well as Jacob thought he would have known her habit of running every morning. It was the hit song he needed to get out of town and the one thing that would make him a fortune. He hadn’t wanted Haley to go to Memphis because she would have taken the song with her. But what bothered him was that Charles seemed to really care about her.
“I didn’t kill her.”
“Charles I don’t believe you.”
The rope behind his back begins to cut deep into Jacob’s hands as he tries to wriggle free from them. But with every wriggle they grow tighter and tighter.
“Man I don’t know what to tell you, but it is the truth.”
“What was your plan for her?”
“Her journal said that you had a surprise for her, that she shouldn’t go to Memphis.”
“I was going to take her to Nashville. But her dad wouldn’t let her go. I told her the night before.”
“Why would you do that, she was only fifteen.”
“But mature beyond her years.”
“That is illegal, she is a minor.” Jacob grew sick to his stomach.
“It wasn’t like that. We are four and half years apart, but it wasn’t sexual anyway, she was my best friend. I told her things I never told anyone.”
Jacob sat still in his chair and, in fact, no one moved. Everyone stood or sat exactly where they were. Andre’s head hung between his shoulders, Jacob wasn’t even sure that he was still alive.
“The guy that does my recordings over there wanted to bring her on as a song writer.”
“Why a writer?”
“Haley had no interest in performing. Just loved the art of writing.”
“That’s why The Comets never performed anywhere.”
“So why is ‘I’m Sorry’ missing from her notebook.”
“I don’t know.”
Jacob tried to lean a little closer to Charles to close the gap between them, it was an old trick he used in interrogations, it opened him up and made the questioned feel more relaxed and ready to talk, but the ropes restricted his movement to the point he could hardly breathe.
“When the police found the notebook it had a page torn from it, and flipping through it I never saw the song. All her friends and family say she would never tear anything out.”
Charles pulled a chair up next to him and sat next to him. “I would agree with that. She kept everything.”
“So where would it have gone? Who else knew that she would be at the pond that morning? And why would they have killed her?”
“I don’t have any answers to that, except, everyone knew that she ran at that park. The park was always packed with runners, half the fucking police force runs there.”
Jacob’s heart and stomach did a summersault, and he thought he was going to throw up. Sudden realization shoots a pain to his gut.
“Let me out of here, I know who the killer is. And I know you all are innocent.”
Charles jumps up and pulls a knife from his pocket and rushes toward Jacob.
Raymond also jumps to his feet and pulls the gun up, aiming it at Jacob and Charles. “I don’t think so Charles.”
“Why not,” he said.
“You cant trust him. Kill him and get it over with, he won’t threaten us any more.”
“I’m not a killer, Raymond, I’m not like you.”
“What do you mean? You killed Tony.”
“No I didn’t.”