“Bad News Travels Slow” – Continued
Fiction Saturday presents, “Bad News Travels Slow
I was really learning to hate the sound of Dinwiddie’s voice. When I turned around I could see that he had three of his muscle-bound “bakers” with him. They moved to flank me – as if I could get out of there dragging Sweet along like a sack of potatoes.
Dinwiddie had asked me a question, so I figured I might as well answer him. “I think we might make a couple of stops – the Hospital for Mr. Sweet here, and then I think I’ll go home and take a shower to get rid of the stink from coming here. And maybe I’ll stop by the FBI office and chat with them. I’m sure you’re cookie factory is breaking some federal regulations – you know, rats like you running around…”
I didn’t get to finish the sentence because one of the gingerbread men gave me a smack to the side of my head. I dropped Sweet and I fell on top of him.
“I watched you from my office tonight, trying to sneak in. You’re a pitiful little pest and I’m tired of you interfering in my business,” growled Dinwiddie.
“It’s not your business yet, Pal. Not until Mr. Sweet here signs off on it.” I shook my head trying to dislodge the beehive behind my eyes. “And he doesn’t look like he could hold onto a fountain pen long enough to sign anything, does he?”
The minute Dinwiddie had flipped the light switch I knew that things were going to get ugly for me – like they had already done so for Sweet. All I could do was a little two-step and try to delay what was coming.
“Look around the room, you meddling fool. There are four of us and one of you. Can you guess what’s next?”
“Yeah. Your boy ‘Popeye’ here is going to sing, ‘Good Night, Irene.’”
And that was the last thing I remember until I bobbed to the surface here in the hospital a couple of days ago.
I’ve been avoiding looking into a mirror. I’m sure that my ‘boyish good looks’ have aged like that gal in “Lost Horizon.” My knuckles had some scratches, so it looks like I got in a lick or two, I hope on Dinwiddie’s smirking face.
The swelling on my jaw had started to shrink and the gap where two of my favorite teeth had been was still beautifully numb. I asked the nurse for a phone. I dialed the Sweet’s home, hoping that somebody friendly would pick it up. On the third ring I got my answer.
“Hello. Sweet residence.” It was Mrs. Sweet.
“Hello, it’s me. Sorry I haven’t called. I’ve been tied up.”
“Where have you been? What have you found out? Did you find George?”
Three questions in five seconds. My head was starting to hurt again.
“I’ve been in the Hospital – a lost soul. I’ve found out that four to one are not good odds, and I did find your husband, but I’ve lost him again.” These painkillers were making me glib at all the wrong times.
“What? Where is he?”
“Dinwiddie had him tied up in an empty office at the factory. He was in bad shape, Mrs. Sweet. I tried to get him out of there, but I couldn’t. Dinwiddie’s Muscles worked me over pretty bad.”
There was a frightened silence coming from her end of the line.
“I’m going to sign the business over to Dinwiddie. I’ll forge George’s signature. It’s not worth it. I don’t care anymore as long as I can get George back alive.”
“That’s up to you, but you were part of the deal too.” I could taste blood on my tongue. I was grinding my teeth.
“If I agree to that – at least it will assure that George stays alive. He’ll use the threat of killing George if I don’t give in to him. If George is dead Dinwiddie knows that I’ll stab him in his bed.”
“This lady is tougher than a two dollar steak.”
“I’ll get out of the hospital tomorrow and I think it’s time to see if I can turn the Chief back into the man he once was.” I hoped she was listening.
“Mrs. Sweet, I haven’t given up on this yet – don’t you.”
— To Be Continued —