The killer was certain there was no one with the victim. Only one car was in the parking lot, a baby blue Cadillac De Ville with the vanity plate SUMFUN. The Killer sneered, accountants and their sense of humor, who else would think number crunching was fun?
After parking in front of the building the emergency flashers were activated and the hood popped up. Pretending to be looking under the hood, the killer scanned the area once again for potential witnesses. So far the coast was clear. Now the cell phone came out, a ploy to make it look good in case the victim was watching. An oath was uttered and a fist crashed down on the roof of the car. The cell phone was angrily tossed in through the driver’s side open window. The killer knocked on the storefront door; the victim cautiously opened it.
“Excuse me but my car’s dead and so is my cell phone. Can I use your phone to call the motor league?”
A quick look up and down the street indicated the stranded motorist was alone, and the victim opened the door wider.
“Sure, c’mon in,” those were the last words Bob the embezzling accountant uttered.
The last words he ever heard were, “Bobby, stealing is wrong. It’s even worse when you steal from your own family.” He never saw the gun concealed by the killer’s jacket. It was over in seconds.
Tossing the office to make it look like a burglary gone bad, the killer smiled. There had been almost a grand in the accountant’s wallet; it was a nice little cash bonus. The credit cards and jewelry were taken as well although they would be discarded safely along with the gun as soon as possible. It would not do to be caught with them.
The killer felt good about tonight’s kill. Bob was the accountant in his wife’s family owned and operated business. Somehow it hadn’t bothered him to steal three million dollars from his own family almost bankrupting a well-respected business that had existed for over one hundred twenty-eight years. Well, if he was capable of any thought it would certainly bother him now.
* * *
After the banking discrepancies were discovered a family meeting was hurriedly called. Bob had not been invited, nor was he aware of the meeting. The widow-to-be and several cousins had banded together and after much discussion, hiring a hit man was suggested. Going public would cause a scandal that would ruin both the family and the business. When faced with that certainty, the previously reluctant family members unanimously voted with Barbara and the other cousins.
Bob had to die; it was the only answer that would work. When it was all over the widow would quietly return the money to the family coffers, minus the twenty-five thousand dollars she had wired to an off-shore account. That was the price of solving their problem. They had agreed it was well worth it. Once again, all would be right with their world.
Leaving the previously stolen car out front with the flashers still going, the killer drove off in the deceased man’s caddy; after all he wouldn’t need it anymore.
Unseen by the killer, the silent sentinel slipped away.
* * *
Marilyn always felt better after she and Daniel showered. He was leaving now to pick up a load of pipe going toCanadaand she was going to spend what was left of the afternoon and early evening at the mall.
First on the agenda was a much-needed haircut. She hoped to be able to find a salon that could fit her in. Next on the list was a new pair of sneakers. The ones she was wearing were a bit too big and she was always stepping out of them. Finally she wanted to pick up some perfume at the outlet store, Dior’s J’adore for her and some Hugo Boss for Daniel. She always picked up something for him. Sometimes it was clothing and once in a while it was just a trinket. Marilyn would hunt the length of the mall until she found the perfect gift for him, not that he deserved any gifts, especially lately.
Shopping gave her something to do while she was waiting for Daniel. As long as she didn’t go overboard, she could afford these little indulgences. The business was doing well, but she was always worried about the future and didn’t want to take anything for granted. Marilyn had talked Daniel into going to a movie tonight and that was rare, as he always wanted to rush back out on the road once he was back at the truck stop. She had to make sure she was back in plenty of time so he would have no excuses to renege.
Marilyn was sitting in the TV room at the truck stop waiting for Daniel. If he didn’t show up soon they would miss theten o’clockmovie they were going to catch at the Cineplex. He was late and she was livid.
The room was smoky and the other drivers were beginning to get to her. Telling stories that were nothing but bull in a feeble attempt to impress each other, she couldn’t take much more of it. Did these morons really believe each other’s stories? Where was Daniel anyway? He should have been loaded and back some time ago. The load was pipe and didn’t have to be tarped. It seemed like every trip she went on with him he was gone longer than he said he would be.
Her shopping or other excursions were always done and she would be twiddling her thumbs until he showed up again. When he did get back he was always in a hurry to get back on the road. Once when she wasn’t ready when he got back, he tore a strip down one side of her and up the other. He instantly apologized, but Marilyn never forgot the rage he displayed. Why was he always in such a panic to leave town? Did he have other women on the road? Was he afraid they might show up? Should she have trusted him all this time?
Daniel rushed into the TV room looking for his wife, cursing the entire time. He was disheveled and there was a small streak of blood on his hand. He said that the winch bar had slipped and he had cut his hand. It took him longer to chain up the load because the injury had occurred within the first five minutes. It almost sounded like he was blaming her for his accident. Yet he never wanted her with him when he went to pick up loads. That had made her suspicious in the first place. Then there were the phone calls he was always making, sometimes it seemed like he was just listening. When he did talk it always ended when she came within earshot. Perhaps it was time to confront him when they got home. She really hated how they were living and the tension between them was growing daily. What was he hiding? Now, because he was late she was being penalized. They were not going to a movie after all; it was time to get back on the road again. She decided not to give him the ring she had purchased that afternoon; maybe once they were back home she would.
* * *
Cindy cried, stamped her feet and behaved very childishly for someone who was trying to convince her parents to treat her as an adult.
“Why do I have to go to summer camp? None of my friends are going. It’s not fair.”
“Pumpkin, we went over all of this before. You are too young to stay home alone all day long without someone supervising you. “
If her dad didn’t stop calling her Pumpkin she would hurl. “Dad, I’m almost thirteen. Please don’t make me go to camp. I can take care of myself, pulleeeeeeeeeeeeeeze.”
“Cindy, you just turned twelve four months ago. That does not make you almost thirteen. Your father is right and you’re going to camp. Next summer we’ll come up with another arrangement.”
“You always take his side in everything. Why don’t you ever care about what I want? Next summer, by next summer I could be dead, you don’t care.” She ran to her room crying.
When the tears finally subsided Cindy devised a plan to show her parents how well she could take care of herself. On Saturday when her parents when to visit her grandma in the nursing home, she would take a little trip of her own. They never made her go with them anymore. The ‘old people smell’ as she liked to call it permeated the place and always made her ill.
When they left, Cindy waited thirty minutes to make sure they wouldn’t turn back for something they might have forgotten. When she was satisfied that they were well on their way, Cindy left for the bus depot. She was going toChicagofor the day. She would shop at Marshall Fields, have lunch and catch the bus home. When her parents got back from seeing grandma and asked her how she spent the day, she would surprise them with her worldly adventure. They would see that if she could manage something like that, then she could stay in the safety of her own neighborhood with the other kids this summer.
There was one flaw with Cindy’s plan. She hadn’t checked the schedule properly and she would have to wait at the bus station for another two hours. Her shopping was done and she had a burger at Wendy’s. Making sure she wouldn’t get lost she had taken a taxi back to the bus depot. Now all she could do was sit and wait for her bus home.
“Wanna party wid me cutie?” He had appeared from nowhere. He was dirty and he stank. He was touching her arm. Cringing on the bench Cindy looked from left to right, couldn’t someone see she needed help? This was the big city though and everyone pretended not to see what was happening.
“Get away from her, beat it or I’ll call the cops.” Suddenly a young man had pushed his way in between Cindy and the would-be attacker.
“Just thought maybe the l’il lady wanted to party. Didn’t mean her no harm.” The derelict slipped away satisfied with his performance and the twenty dollars he had just earned. Jimmy always used him for the bus depot snatches and he always did a good job; perhaps it was time he asked for a raise.
Cindy was relieved and thanked her rescuer.
“Your bus late too?”
She glanced at him but said nothing. Her parents had warned her not to talk to strangers a million times. They must think she’s stupid or something. Maybe he was a good stranger; he did chase that old drunk away from her.
Sensing her reluctance to speak to him, he tried again. “My kid sister was supposed to arrive here an hour ago, her bus is late. Our folks usually don’t let her come to the city alone, but I promised I would be here to pick her up. She’s thirteen, how old are you?”
“I’m fourteen and I come into the city alone all the time.” Cindy didn’t want him to think she was a baby or anything. He was kind of cute; maybe she could make friends with his sister and then she could see him again some time.
Appraising his prey with a knowing eye, he doubted she was much more than eleven or twelve. He was certain she was still a virgin and that meant big bucks to him. Offering her a coke while they both waited for their buses, it was just that easy. By the time she noticed the funny aftertaste it was too late.
* * *
Since Cindy had told no one of her plan, her parents had no idea how long she had been gone or what had happened. They never gave up hope of finding her alive but were at a loss as to where to turn their search next. The FBI offered no real hope. Psychics were consulted but none of their visions panned out.
* * *
After she was thoroughly strung out on cocaine, Jimmy introduced her to his best client for an evening of fun and games. Of course it was Martin who would have all the fun and play all the games. That he was a sadistic son of a bitch didn’t matter to Jimmy at all. Cindy was worth a one shot deal for five thousand bucks; anything goes just as long as Martin didn’t kill her. After her big date with Martin he put her out on the streets to earn a living for him.
She considered what she did not living at all and mostly just prayed for a swift and painless death. That is, when she had lucid moments those were her thoughts. Days turned into weeks, then months and finally years.
She had tried to phone home a couple of times when her head was clear enough but someone always got Jimmy before the call could be completed. He would take her home and a beating would follow. Sometimes he just punched and kicked her, but on most occasions he used a hardwood cane and brass knuckles. Jimmy knew how to keep his girls in line.
“You ungrateful little bitch. Don’t I feed you? Don’t I give you a nice place to live?”
“Jimmy, I just wanted to talk to my momma. I miss her is all.”
The tirade that followed was always the same. He would shout that her parents didn’t love her like he did and they certainly wouldn’t want her back now.
“You’re nothing but a little junky whore. You’re lucky that I still want you.”
When Cindy became pregnant with Jimmy’s child, he promised her she could get off the street and be his main woman. Foolishly, in her drug-induced fog, she believed him. The back alley abortion he obtained had almost killed her and guaranteed that she could never have a baby of her own. She was only seventeen years old.
Secretly withholding money from her tricks, Cindy had managed to save almost a hundred dollars; not quite enough for a bus ticket home. She hoped her parents wouldn’t turn her out after she arrived on their doorstep. She prayed to God that Jimmy was wrong and that they would let her stay.
When Jimmy had found the money he beat her severely enough to warrant hospitalization. Driving her to Little Sisters of Mercy, he reached across her, opened the car door and pushed her out into the parking lot. Crawling to the emergency entrance took all of her strength. When she awoke in the examining room she got the nurse to assist her. She called her momma collect.
* * *
“Date and time agreed.” The killer was pleased to see a quick reply.
Time to go to work again; this time it would be a slow death. Cindy’s parents had ordered the hit. Edna and Sam agreed to pay twice the normal fee; it averaged ten thousand dollars a year for each year that this creature had his hooks in their little Cindy. They stipulated that Jimmy had to know why he was dying before he died and that he had to suffer a lot. Not the killer’s usual style, get in get it done and get out was the motto. Under the circumstances and in consideration of fifty thousand dollars, the killer agreed.
Cindy didn’t know anything about her parent’s plans. They thought she had enough to deal with and didn’t want to burden her with additional nightmares. She was still undergoing intensive drug rehabilitation and counseling sessions. They had also hired tutors that came to the house daily in an attempt to bring her education up from a seventh grade level.
Cindy should have been looking forward to graduating from high school at the end of this term. Instead she was trying her best to ignore the terror and tremors that were part of her daily life and not cause her parents any more anxiety. She hadn’t told them about everything that had happened in the last five years, to do so would have been too cruel. However, she had told them enough.
* * *
Slipping Jimmy a mickey in the bar and helping him back to his crib had been easy enough. Now, tightly bound to the chair, the torture started. If the pimp could scream through his pain and shock it would never be heard. The sock in his mouth and the duct tape securing it would muffle any sound he could possibly utter. The killer shot Jimmy up with his own dope, beat him with the same cane and brass knuckles he had used on Cindy and countless other young girls, let him come down from the drugs and started all over again. It would look like revenge or a deal gone sour.
The terror and pain in his eyes was hard to deal with, but then the killer thought about a twelve-year-old country girl plucked from the bus depot. It might just as well have been from her momma’s bosom. Her life was ruined; she could never have her own family. The pimp would never be able to do that to another child. The knife was slowly and deliberately drawn across Jimmy’s naked thigh. When Jimmy realized what was about to happen to him passed out.
* * *
Marilyn looked at the clock; Daniel was late again. She was so tired of this. She had rushed back from her dental appointment and shopping trip to prepare a special meal of all his favorite foods. Determined to find out once and for all if he was cheating on her, she started looking through the briefcase he had forgotten in his haste. If he were involved with another woman she would find proof in there.
Finally she found what she had been looking for; a piece of paper folded so small and tucked into a deposit book that she almost didn’t see it. Then she noticed something else, something more obvious. This deposit book was not from the bank they dealt with.
Looking at the balance she gasped, how could he have set aside that kind of money? Where did it come from, was he gambling again? What was he up to?
There were several phone numbers on the piece of paper. Grabbing the phone directory she started checking the area codes. The numbers were from all overCanadaand theUnited States.
Date and Time Agreed
Copyright 2001 Alex Knight
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.