This is the continuation of a story. You can read the rest here.
“I’m not quite sure where the beginning is,” she says from her perch in my visitor’s chair. Her bare feet barely reach the ground. She looks like a deflated love doll.
“I’d say the beginning is right around where things stopped being normal and started being weird.” I’m so proud of my logic sometimes. “What happened yesterday when things were still normal?”
“I went to work.”
“Alright.” Farm boy of the giant jaw told me she was a college student. Let’s pull some teeth then. “Where do you work?”
“At McGinty’s Bookshop. I’m the bookkeeper.”
“You’re a bookkeeper at a bookshop?” I cannot contain my excitement, “You’re a keeper of the books for books? A bookie of book books?” I shut up when I see Bets for she had decided to act as mama bear for our petite bookie, and as usual, is having none of my monkeyshines. They were starting to chafe anyway. “Continue, please,” I say in my best adult voice.
“Around 11 or so, Mac… that is, Mr. McGinty… that’s what everyone calls him… he went on a run, so it was just Oscar–the clerk–and me in the shop. About a half hour later, these guys came in.”
“Three. I thought there were two at first, but one came in the back entrance. They started knocking stacks of books over. Oscar tried to stop them, but one of them pushed him and he fell over backwards. The one who came in through the back grabbed me and told Oscar to tell Mac that ‘He better deliver or something happens to the girl.’ The girl being me and the something being bad I suppose.”
I can’t argue with that logic.
She went on, “Then, they put something over my head and shoved me in the trunk of their car. At first, I tried to pay attention to the turns, but we drove for a very long time and I guess I fell asleep. When I woke up later, I was alone in a room with my hands tied behind me.”
For the first time since this crummy case started, it begins to make a little sense to me–an itty-bitty baby sense that’s just barely poking its sensical head out of its sensehole, but it is sense nonetheless. “Were you in a cabin in the woods?”
“Yes. How did you know?” She must think I’m psychic at this point. I wave her off and tell her to keep going. “I got my hands loose and escaped. It was easier than I thought it would be. There was no one at the cabin when I left that I could see, but I didn’t stick around to find out. I ran and ran. I made it to the highway somehow and flagged down a trucker. He gave me a roundabout ride and here I am.”
“There was no one at the cabin, because your goons were probably busy pushing me off a cliff at the time.” See? Sense!
It doesn’t make any sense to her. I would be very surprised if it had. Instead of explaining, I add, “You’re lucky you got away.”
“Can you find out who’s after me?”
“Maybe. I need some answers first. Do you know what Mac was supposed to deliver?”
“No. I have nothing to do with that part of the business.”
“Do you know who he was supposed to deliver it to? I mean, did you overhear him on the phone or see anything unusual?”
“Do you have any idea what any of this is about?”
“None at all. Mac runs an up-and-up business as far as I know, and since I’m the bookkeeper, I know a lot. I don’t know what they’d want with me, with either of us really.”
“Well, it seems to me they wanted to use you as leverage to get Mac to give up whatever it is they think he has. Other than plain decency and a general respect for humankind, is there any reason why Mac would be overly concerned for your welfare?”
“He’s my grandfather.” She lowers her head with a subtle hint of guilt.
“Yep, that’d do it. The good news is, if you’re here, they can’t use you for leverage.”
“Saying ‘good news’ implies that there’s bad news.”
The girl isn’t all snowy white innocent after all. “The bad news is that either they’re still after you for the same purpose or they’ll find someone else to use as leverage…Is Oscar related to you?”
“OK, good.” I continue, “Or the baddest bad, they already have your grandfather so they don’t need leverage at all.”
“Oh, that is bad news.”
“When was the last time you heard from your grandfather?”
“Before he left the shop yesterday morning.”
“Can you call him?”
“Sure. I don’t have a phone though.”
I gesture to the phone on my desk. She picks up the receiver and dials a number and puts it down. She does the same thing again. “He’s not answering at home or work.”
“Bets, I think it’s time I went shopping. Can you take care of our guest?”
“You know I mean take care of her as in get her some food, a shower and a change of clothes, right? Not take care of like take care of.” I make a pretend index finger gun shoot my temple.
“Just checking.” After a few minutes of searching the office, Bets asks me what I’m looking for.
“Your car is a crushed pile of metal in the mountains being fixed by a man named Abel. Keys won’t help.”
“Oh, yeah.” Poor Tank. “Can I borrow your car?”
“OK! Cab it is then!”