I just woke up the next morning knowing that they were going to fix me. There was no announcement and no admission that they had screwed up initially. Nothing like that with a government agency of course. It was just you should show up on Friday and plan to spend the weekend.
Yes, I was counting down the five days, but I also had to find Lois in those same five days. Dead or alive she was out there somewhere. First things first, I thought. I needed to interview the people at the Reverend’s rehab facility. Ordinarily they don’t cooperate, even with me. This time I thought they might, so I just went there cold after my morning coffee,
I had given the cops the rest of the first day to do their thing. I did it since anything that could be done with lots of manpower, should have been accomplished the first day. Since it wasn’t, I decided that I needed to look into it.
It was too early in the day for my normal contact, so I just knocked on the locked front door. “Hello,” I said to the first person who came. “I’m Maxine Stone and I’m going to be looking for Lois Gentry,” I informed the woman at the door.
“I am going to have to call someone,” she informed me.
“Then you need to get to calling,” I replied. I stood by the door so as to give her time to cover her ass.
“Reverend Archer is going to come down to see you,” the frightened black lady said.
“Why are you so nervous? Surely the Reverend doesn’t blame you for what happened?” I asked.
“Of course not, I wasn’t even here yesterday,” she said.
“So what do they say happened?” I asked. “Come on you know it’s going to be all over town.”
“They say two guys came in with a visitor and pulled guns. They held the staff at gunpoint and grabbed Lois.” the lady said.
“Did they point the guns are her or was it a rescue?” I asked.
“I don’t think she wanted to go,” the voice belonged to Reverend Archer. “Hello Maxine. Jewel honey you can go back to work. I’ll take care of Maxine.”
“Well Reverend Archer, how are you today?” I asked.
“I would be a lot better if Lois hadn’t been snatched from me. I hate like hell when I lose one of the flock.”
“I bet. Especially when some punk takes them away from you?” I suggested.
“Let’s say the ‘Few’ have their eyes open for her, or the car the punks were driving.” he said.
“So what did these punks look like?” I asked.
“Young, black and with big guns, or course.” Archer was not a happy man.
“Of course, I don’t suppose they were able to pick anyone out of the police photos?” I asked.
“No but Maxine, can I trust you?” he asked.
“You always have Reverend,” I suggested.
“One of the clients is an artist. He got a good look at one of them.” With that he handed me a copy machine picture of a man. It was a good enough drawing to identify him, if I found a matching real life face. “Also this is the second one from a witness description.”
“So do you have any idea where I should look first?” I asked.
“I got a peace with the Westies. Half my congregation has some kind of ties to them,” he said.
“Reverend Archer this is a small town. There isn’t that much gang activity here?” I suggested.
“I know Maxine but a white girl grabbed by two black guys and she doesn’t resist. It smacks of gangs or drugs of some kind. “
“Oh I don’t have a problem believing it is drugs. My guess is that she did business with those two. They are probably afraid of what she will say, if she gets clean.” I suggested.
“That sounds like a reasonable first theory,” the reverend said.
“So, now I just have to find them, to be sure she is free to leave, if she wishes.” I said.
“You do plan to leave the two kidnappers alive when you go, I assume?” the reverend asked quietly.
“That’s the plan, but it is flexible,” I admitted.
When I left the rehab, I drove to the apartment Lois had listed on her rehab registration. I found it to be just a needle pad. Nothing personal at all, unless you counted the two teenagers with the thousand mile stare as personal belongings.
“Hey kid, you know either of these two men?” I asked after I got one’s attention.
“Sure that’s Jerome,” he informed me. “Jerome’s got some good shit.”
Seemed there was no mystery after all. Just a couple of drug dealers and their drug whore. I called Sandy at the station. I took the call out to the porch, since I didn’t much want the Bobsy twins involved in the conversation.
“Sandy this is Maxine, it looks like your doer in the disappearance of my friend Lois is a dealer named Jerome. All I know about him so far is he has some good shit man.” I left her the message before I asked the Bobsy twins where I could find Jerome.
“I don’t know where he lives, but Jerome sells in the downtown park,” one of the twins said. He strolls through a few times a day. I don’t know where else he sells.”
“You mean in that one block grassed lot on the square?” I asked disbelieving my ears. It was six blocks from the police station, certainly no more. It was also two blocks from my house. One thing for sure, he was going to be moving his operation.
“Yeah, he’s been selling there a long time,” he replied.
“Okay man thanks, you guys get back to it. Whatever it is,” I suggested as I left the room.
Since I neither got cold, nor tired I could ride by the park all day until he showed, but he might not be going to show at all, if he had an uncooperative Lois to deal with. I needed to run Jerome and his partner to ground. I needed more information to do that.
I went to the park to grab any drug dealer and then sweat him, but to my surprised Jerome was there. Evidently he didn’t think what he had done was a big deal. He was on the move, but he was there.
I was having the debate which I seemed to have often. Should I call Sandy and hand over Jerome, or should I grab him and find out what the hell was going on. It would surly be more than met the eye. Hell it was always more than meets the eye. It was one of the rules of my life it seemed.
My phone played Mag 7 just as I was about to move in on Jerome. “Hello,” I said.
“Maxine, it’s me Bill, how do you feel about dinner tonight?” he asked.
“Well, I feel like I will probably have dinner somewhere, but right now I’m a little busy. How about you call me back closer to dinner time?” I suggested.
“Well it’s lunchtime now. How about I just give you a night off?” he asked.
He was most likely hoping I would say no, but instead I said, “Good plan, call me tomorrow.”
“You are the worst kidnapper I ever saw,” I said it to Jerome showing him the .38 revolver. If you run, I’m going to shoot you in the ass and let my lawyer deal with the cops. So where is Lois?” I asked.
“We didn’t kidnap her. She called us to come get her. She changed her mind about the rehab is all.”
“So you were so stupid you took her out of rehab at gun point, and thought that was cool. Did you have an armful of your own shit or what?” I asked. “It don’t matter, I’m going to be calling the cops. So you better come up with something better.”
“I know who you are Stone, we can make a deal.” he said.
“Oh let’s see, you want your freedom and I can give you that, but what is it that you can give me?” I asked.
“I can give you Lois.” he said.
“And you will, whether it is the cops who sweat you or me, you will give her up,” I said.
“Will it be before or after she is dead?” he asked.
“Man you just keep digging your hole deeper,” I said. “So let me tell you. I had not seen Lois in twenty years till the other day. She asked for help, then tried to back out. I don’t owe her a lot sweetie. I have no problem turning your ass over to the cops and letting them work you.”
“Tell me something,” I continued. “What the hell are you doing selling dope six blocks from the police station. Do you want to do time?”
“I been selling here for months, the cops don’t seem to have a clue. They think I’m part of that group looking for day work.” He was proud of his little scam. Hell he should be he was putting his finger in the cop’s eye. It was a little easier since he strolled through instead of setting up shop.
Well see now I know. I am going to set a camera up here and I’m going to have every fucking one of you arrested. Even better, I will have pictures of the transaction. You do a deal in this park again, you are going to do time for it. I give you my word. Now I want to see Lois. If she is cool then maybe I can broker a deal for you. I can’t promise anything.
I was sure Lois was not okay. It was just some of his shit to try to shake free. What I expected is exactly what happened.
“I can go get her, then we can meet somewhere,” he suggested.
“Please don’t tell me that you think I am stupid enough to fall for that.” I said laughing at him.
“Okay, I can call my cousin and have him bring her to meet us. She will tell you that she is fine,” he suggested.
“You stay with me and have her brought right here,” I demanded. First he made his call, then I took his pistol and phone. I made a call of my own. Ten minutes later the park had a few additional visitors.
You guessed it Vlad, Anya, Leon and the dancer were walking around the small patch of grass talking and laughing, I stood with Jerome and waited. If he recognized the others he didn’t let on. I had no idea if his cousin would balk or no, but I didn’t plan to stand there alone, even if they couldn’t really kill me.
After about twenty minutes the car pulled up and Lois and the cousin climbed out. Not only was there the two of them there were two more thugs who walked up to Jerome and I. The three thugs had an eye and a hand on Lois. She might not be a full prisoner, but they were taking no chances that she might run.
The group was looking everywhere while I spoke to Lois. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yes I’m fine. I am so sorry Maxine. I never should have gotten you involved.” she said.
“So, do you want to come home with me?” I asked.
“God I am so sick of this life, I would do anything,” she said.
“Well honey, you are definitely too old for this shit, because I am.” I said it with a smile. The four of them felt pretty confident I’m sure. I mean shit I wasn’t a cop or anything. I also hadn’t left Jerome’s side so I hadn’t done any scheming.
“Now guys here is the deal, Lois and I are going to walk to my place and call the cops. You have till she can point them at you as a head start. So either run, or call your lawyers. You should get moving probably,” I suggested when they didn’t move..
“Why wouldn’t we just kick your skinny ass and take Lois back?” Jerome asked.
While his thugs pretty much kept one eye on us and one eye out for the cops, my little band of cutthroats had move closer. When Jerome said that, the rustle of cloth and the sound of pistols clearing leather was quite distinct. “Because you will be very dead, if you try it. Not only dead but your bodies will be disposed of in the most terrible manner. It’s really a no win situation for you.”
“So we are at a standoff?” Jerome asked.
“How you figure hon. I got Lois, and I got you, and your thug friends, all I don’t have is the reason why you grabbed her. I’m sure she will give that up first chance. You really don’t have anything.”