Fiction Saturday – “Trapped” – Conclusion
For five days I followed him everywhere. I saw nothing that said he was stepping out on his wife. The closest he came was some gentle flirting with his waitress over lunch. I think he spotted me a couple of times. My bruised face made me stand out, but I couldn’t help but get close at times. My hearing is not as good as it used to be.
I called the number Mrs. Tetley had given me and I told her that, as far as I could tell, her hubby was too busy with his business to be playing around on her. She told me to stay on his tail. She was buying my time and my lunch so I kept dogging her husband. She must know something about him that I haven’t uncovered yet.
It’s not much of a job, but it’s all I have. Once I can’t tail a sneaky husband any more all I’ll be good for is to be an Organ Donor…except for maybe my liver.
Ten days I’ve been tailing this guy and I’ve not seen him do anything out of line, except that I know that he made me once or twice. The other day he was heading out to his country club and I had to back down and give him more room on the less crowded road that leads out there. I lost sight of him and as I sped up to regain contact I looked in my mirror and there he was behind me. All I could do was break off and turn down the first road I came to. I called his wife.
“Look,” I told her, “ He knows I’ve been following him, so, even if he is playing around – which I don’t think he is – I’d never catch him at it now. Let’s just settle up and call it quits.”
“Maybe you’re right, Mr. Walker,” she said cooly. “Perhaps I’m just being a silly wife.”
I gave her a quick accounting of what she owed me for all of my wasted rime. I padded it a bit just to soothe my ego. She could afford it. We set up an appointment time for her to come by my office to give me what I had coming.
“I think I spotted your ‘Mr.Walker’ following me a couple of times. He looks like a bad prize fighter.”
“Oh, Nigel, be careful. He said he’d kill you. Can’t we just give him the money so he’ll go away?”
“Constance, if we give into him once he’ll never go away. I’ve got to convince him that he’s going after the wrong people.”
His wife looked worried. The cell phone in her pocket began to “ring.” It played a few bars from Aerosmith’s song “Janie’s Got A Gun.”
“Hello,” she said softly into the phone and turned toward her husband. “It’s him. It’s Mr. Walker,” she whispered.
“I see,” she said into the phone. “Yes, I have the money.” She went silent, listening to the voice on the other end of the line. She nodded as Nigel paced back and forth. “Maybe you’re right. Perhaps I’m just being a silly wife.” She looked up at her husband. “Yes, I’ll be there with the money.” She ended the call, slipped the phone back into her pocket.
“Well, you heard that, Nigel. He wants me to go to his ‘office’ he called it, in some building in the city. He insists that I come alone with the money. Oh, Nigel, I’m scared. What if he…tries something? He said that he has a gun.”
“Well, so do I, my Love. Don’t worry, you won’t be there alone. I’ll be there with you and I’ll take care of ‘Mr. Walker.”
The sun was going down when I left my apartment. I’d slept a good portion of the day away. There was nothing else on my calendar until the slightly paranoid Mrs. Constance Tetley was scheduled to meet me at the office to settle accounts. That was later, around eight. I had time to soak my still aching body. I headed for Koreatown and a hot tub and massage.
Ten days of Birddogging a man who was as boring as a paper napkin was not fun. He may be the richest man in this part of the state and undoubtedly into some shady business dealings, but his wife only wanted to know if he was bringing it all home at night. She wants her Hubby to give her what she wants and needs.
Me? All I want is paid for my work so that I don’t end up living under a bridge sharing a cardboard box with some guy named “Lucky.” I’ve given up on my dreams of becoming a rich and famous detective. I just want to have enough to keep body and soul together and, when I’m gone, to have a few friends left to share some good memories of me.
“What a dump. Are you sure this is the right place?”
“This is the address, Nigel, I’m sure – on the eighth floor,” she whispered as if anyone else was around to overhear them as they got into the elevator.
“He’s only expecting me, so I’d better go in alone. I’m terrified, but I know you’ll be right there.”
“I’ll be right outside the door, Constance. Here’s the money.” He handed her a white business size envelope with ten thousand dollars in hundred dollar bills. “He’ll feel the need to count it. That’s when I’ll come in, but if tries to get physical just yell and I’ll be there before he can do anything.”
“I know you will, Darling. It’s Eight O’clock.”
“It’s Eight O’clock,” I said to myself. I heard the elevator stop on the eighth floor. She’ll pay me and then I’m going home, after a drink or two. I’m glad that she’s on time.
“Good evening, Mr. Walker.”
“Good evening, Mrs. Tetley. Please come into my office so I can give you a receipt and so you can be on your way.”
“Is cash OK with you, Mr. Walker? I don’t want my husband to see anything on our bank statement. I’m sure you understand.”
“Cash is fine. It’s my favorite actually. It never bounces the next morning.”
When we were both seated she reached into her purse and pulled out a white envelope. It looked chubby. While she did that I took the holster with the .38 revolver off my belt and set it on the desk. “I guess I won’t be needing to carry this around anymore. Hopefully for a long time. Personally, I hate the things. They’re nothing but trouble.”
“Here’s your money, Mr. Walker. I’ve put in some extra as a bonus for all of your hard work.” She was smiling like she just scratched off a winning lottery ticket.
I opened the flap on the envelope and saw Ben Franklin and his whole family staring back at me.
“Mrs. Tetley, this is way too much. I appreciate your gratitude, but this is…
Her smile disappeared as she jumped to her feet knocking over her chair.
“What do you mean it’s not enough?” She was yelling. “I won’t do that! No! No! Don’t point your gun at me. Help! Help! Nigel!”
She had flipped her coin in two seconds.
“Mrs. Tetley, what’s wrong? What’s going on here?” I picked up my gun. I didn’t want her grabbing it. “I’m not pointing this at you.”
She is screaming. I’m confused and my office door flies open and Nigel Tetley comes in with a big .45 caliber pistol in each hand. His wife stepped back away from the desk and plastered herself up against the far wall.
“So, ‘Mr. Walker’, you pull a gun on my wife? First it’s blackmail and now what?”
I was barely hearing him. All I could do was look at those two cannons pointed at me. The .38 in my hand felt like a cap gun.
“Blackmail? What are you talking about? She hired me too…”
“That’s a lie, Nigel. He showed me those ancient pictures of me and demanding money – and now he points that awful gun of his at me and tells me to undress for him.”
“I never said that. What is this?” I was getting scared. This was falling apart all around me.
“The pictures weren’t enough, eh, Walker? You wanted the real thing. You…” He lifted thee .45s and two red laser dots lit up on my chest.
I may be getting old and slow, but I’ve been shot before and it’s not fun and with his two pistols I wouldn’t have a prayer. My brain shut down and instinct took over. I dove to my left trying to get my body behind my file cabinet. I pulled my trigger. Nigel Tetley did the same. I felt the impact on my thigh. The pain would come along soon enough. My ears were ringing from the roar of the gunfire in my small office. I was on the floor. I was waiting for him to come after me – to finish me off. I would try to return the favor if I could.
Nothing was happening. When my ears opened for business again everything was quiet. I decided to crawl out of the corner to see what was going to happen next.
The first thing I saw was feet. They were attached to Nigel Tetley and I was seeing the soles of his shoes. Both .45s were still in his hands, but they were on the floor too.
I was able to pull myself over to my desk and into my chair. The pain was starting up big time. When I looked at the rest of Nigel Tetley I saw that he was missing an eye. My one reflex shot had hit home. Tetley was as dead as a man could ever be.
“Nice shooting, Walker. Lucky, but nice.”
I turned my head toward the sound of that voice. It was Mrs. Tetley, still standing by the wall. She was smiling again.
“What just happened here?” I asked her or anybody else in the room who could still talk. “Why is he dead and I have a hole in my leg?” I was still holding my gun.
“What just happened, Mr. Walker, is that you just made me a very rich gal – and put away that popgun of yours. You won’t shoot me. You need me. I’m your only witness. You shoot me and your next stop will be Death Row for a double murder. With me still alive I can swear it was self-defense. My crazy, jealous husband followed me here. I came here to hire you to follow him, just like I really did. So don’t threaten me with that pea shooter. You’ll never get off two lucky shots tonight. And now I’m going to call the police.”
She took out her phone, dialed 911 and gave a performance worthy of a Hollywood Star.
I was trapped. She had me in a cold corner. There was no way out for me except through her and she knew it. I knew it, but I didn’t understand it.
“What if your husband had killed me?”
Oh, the same story only reversed. I was hiring you, he followed me, came in. You pulled your gun. He pulled his. Bang. Bang. You’re dead and I tell the cops my hubby shot you in cold blood. He goes to the Gas Chamber on my eyewitness testimony and I am the tragic, but very wealthy, widow. Either way – I win.”
“And I lose,” I said. “I lose again, just like every other day.”
She stepped over the body of her dead husband and sat down again across the desk from me. She reached out and picked up the envelope with all the cash and put it back in her purse.
“No sense on wasting this on you, Mr. Walker, is there?”
I could hear the sirens even from up on the eighth floor. They’d be coming through the door in a couple of minutes.
“Why didn’t you just divorce him?”
“Pre-nup. I wouldn’t get squat. I figured this was my best option.”
She was probably right.
I had no good options. I was sitting in my chair bleeding out, dead broke, and at the mercy of this tall, leggy…there is no word for her in my vocabulary.
I was at a loss. What could I do? I never felt so lost – so trapped. I saw no way out.
“This is the Police. We’re coming in and I want to see everybody’s hands in the air. Do you understand me?”
“Come on in.”
There was a single shot.