Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter38
A fresh batch of tourists were getting off the train and heading for the border. A few walked toward the McDonalds, but saw the yellow crime scene tape and turned back to join the flow to the crossing gate.
Laura flipped off the light switch and closed the Cambio door behind her. They looked up and down the street. Nobody was paying them any attention. Laura took Davis’s arm as they casually crossed the plaza. She idly swung the plastic shopping bag holding $180,000 worth of forged documents and the file folder from Molina’s office. They looked just like a couple of tourists heading home after a day of shopping in Tijuana. They made a beeline for the nearest open door on the waiting red train.
They started to step up into the car when a uniformed San Diego police sergeant started coming down and blocked their way. Laura and the officer made eye contact. After what felt like an hour, the officer stepped back up into the car.
“Oh, excuse me, folks,” he said touching the brim of his hat.
He reached out and offered Laura his helping hand.
“Let me help you there, Miss.”
She mumbled a weak thank you and tried to smile.
Nervously, Davis looked back at the man in uniform. He was looking at them. The cop smiled and gave him an appreciative nod. One man to another saying, “Good looking gal you got there, Buddy.” Davis nodded back as he caught up with Laura, who was sliding into a seat by the window.
The trolley took about twenty minutes to return to downtown San Diego. It was long enough for the adrenaline to stop pumping. They were exhausted from the long and violent day as they walked up the street toward the motel. The sky was starting to lose the last color of the sunset. Traffic on the streets was beginning to build. The early evening dog-walkers and joggers were just about the only people on the sidewalks.
As they neared the Budget Traveler Inn and a warm bed, they walked past the Burger King restaurant owned by Vivian’s friend, the retired cop.
Laura jumped a bit as the venetian blinds in the restaurant opened suddenly. There in the window was the owner, getting ready for his dinnertime customers. He watched Davis and Laura walk by. He and Laura made eye contact. In their glance there seemed to be an instinctual mutual awareness that they were natural enemies and that it would go no further. He felt that way about most of his clientele in this part of town.
“I need some sleep,” said Laura. They turned into the motel parking lot.
There were just a few cars in the lot. Business was bad. Davis, ever the accountant, thought that the best thing would be for some developer to buy the property before it went belly up. At least that way Vivian would have some decent cash to retire on.
“Let’s go tell her we’re back,” suggested Laura.
The office door was ajar. Davis pushed it open and called out to her.
“Vivian? Vivian, you here?”
From inside her apartment behind the desk they heard a moan in the darkness.
“Vivian!” Laura cried.
They raced around the counter and into Vivian’s living room. Davis’s hand searched the wall inside the doorway and flipped on the lights.
Vivian was slumped in her overstuffed chair in front of the television. Her face was a swollen purple mass. Someone had beaten her badly. Her shirt was wet with her own blood. There were broken teeth on the carpet.
“Oh, my God, Vivian! Who did this?” asked Laura as she knelt next to the chair. Vivian’s breathing was very shallow.
Davis went into the kitchen and returned with a wet dishtowel. Laura took it and gently wiped at the blood oozing from the bridge of Vivian’s broken nose.
Davis took Vivian’s wrist. Her pulse was erratic.
“She needs help, right now,” he said.
“I know. Vivian, we’re going to get you some help. Hang on, dear. Hang on.”
Vivian shook her head painfully from side to side and she tried to speak.
Laura gently put her finger on Vivian’s split lips. “Don’t try to talk Vivian. It can wait.”
Vivian raised her hand and pushed away Laura’s. She struggled to speak again. Her voice was very faint. Laura bent close to her face as Vivian struggled to talk. She whispered through the pain and swelling in her mouth to form a single word.
“Run,” she said and fainted.
Laura looked up at Davis. “It’s Dominic. He’s found us,” she said.
She walked over to the phone and punched in 911.
“This is Beverly Deltino. The FBI, the San Diego Police, and I don’t know who else, are looking for me. I’m at the Budget Traveler Inn. If they want me, tell them to get over here quick, and to bring an ambulance.”
She hung up the phone and looked at Vivian before turning toward Davis. “We’ve got just a couple of minutes before this place is crawling with cops.”
Laura knelt again beside Vivian’s chair. Vivian was unconscious and clearly on the edge of death.
“Vivian, help will be here in a minute. Don’t you dare die. We want to stay, but we have to go.”
As Laura got up she leaned over and softly kissed the top of Vivian’s head. “Thank you for everything.”
Laura and Davis hurried outside to get to their car before everyone with the power of arrest in southern California showed up.
They cut across the parking lot, passing the alcove by the vending machines.
They both froze in their tracks and turned back toward the voice. It was Dominic. He was alone, except for the black pistol in his hand. He was smiling. There were small spots of blood visible on his white shirt.
“I said hello, Beverly. What? You won’t even say hello to your husband?”
“Hello, Dominic,” she said flatly. She wished she could reach the guns at the bottom of the shopping bag. Davis was thinking a similar thought.
“That’s better.” What’s with the haircut and everything? I liked it long. You look like hell. He shifted his gaze to Davis, pointing the gun at him. “Who’s your friend here?”
“He’s nobody, Dominic. Let him go. It’s me you want.”
“Well, hello, Mr. Nobody, you lousy little cockroach.” Dominic sneered at him.
Davis stood in a stunned silence. The fear that he felt at this moment dwarfed what he had felt during the shootout at Horton Plaza. He was afraid to the point of wetting himself, but he wasn’t going to let his fear show. Not in front of Laura and certainly not in front of Dominic. He would not give him the satisfaction.
“Dominic,” said Laura, “I have most of your money. It’s taped to me. I spent some, but I can give you most of it.”
“Damn right you will, but I’m not here just for the money. You made a real mess for me, Beverly. You know that? You shamed me in front of everybody back home.”
“I know. I’m sorry, Dominic. That wasn’t my intent.”
“Shut up,” Dominic said, raising his voice. “That’s not all. When you left and you stole my money, I went crazy. I accidentally killed Graciella.”
“I know. I talked with my father. That was stupid of you.”
“Shut up!” He raised his aim and pointed his gun at her forehead.
“The Feds think you did it, Beverly. Can you believe that? Guess what else? It turns out that Graciella, that little piece of trash, was a cop, DEA. You let an undercover cop into my house. You know how that looks? You put me in some real hot water with the Old Man. I hear he nearly keeled over when he found out. I’m almost afraid to go back to New York.”
“So, you’re here to kill me to satisfy the Old Man?”
“Right. I dunno. I’m just crazy about all this, Beverly.”
“Mr. Deltino?” said Davis.
“Whoa, the cockroach has a voice,” said Dominic with a derisive laugh.
“Be quiet, Davis,” urged Laura.
“No. I have a question,” said Davis, looking Dominic in the eye.
“He has a question, Beverly. How nice.” Dominic seemed amused. “Ask your question, cockroach.”
“My name is Davis.”
“Davis? Ain’t that pretty? Davis? Like Bette Davis? Go ahead. What’s your question, Bette?” He smirked and looked Davis up and down.
“My name is Davis,” he repeated. “Why did you beat Vivian like that?”
“Who the hell is Vivian?”
“The woman in the motel office,” Davis said. His fear was fading as he was accepting his inevitable fate.
“Oh, the old lady? She wouldn’t tell me where you were. She just spit in my face and called me some real choice names. I don’t take that from nobody.”
“She was telling you the truth, Dominic. She didn’t know where we were,” said Laura. “She’s just a harmless little widow.”
“Uh-huh,” said Dominic.
“How did you find us here, anyway?” asked Davis.
“Oh? Another question, Bette? Well, you two morons were all over the TV the other night. It was just a matter of time. One of our guys in the San Diego PD recognized your wheel man’s car, the harmless little widow there. Seems she’s got a history in this town.”
“One of your guys?” asked Davis.
“We’re everywhere, Bette.” He looked over at Laura. “Your little friend here don’t know much, does he?” He turned back to Davis. “Our guy recognized her and passed that onto us. Then he ‘forgot’ to notify his Lieutenant, so I could get here first. Money talks, Bette.”
Dominic took a step closer to Laura and closed one eye as he took exact aim on her head.