This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental
They drove for more than an hour when curiosity got the best of John, He asked, "So Stranger, tell me. Where are we going?"
He flashed a deadly look at John which said, "Don't ask questions. Just be quiet."
Up ahead, he made a hard right and swerved on to a dirt road. The lane led to a remote cabin high up in the Poconos. He ordered, "Mr. Black, get out of the car, Walk toward the cabin. Do not turn around."
- Black - Part 3
Money - John Black - and a dirt road
Keeping his eyes ahead on the cabin, John moved forward, confused by the present circumstances. Should he run? Should he fight? Should he cooperate? He continued to the cabin without looking back. He tried to appear unconcerned.
Stranger barked, “Open the door!”
John obediently did so. “Say, Stranger, what’s this all about?”
“Shut up! Just shut up!” Pointing his gun at a table, he ordered John to sit down.
Pacing the floor like a wild man, Stranger repeatedly waved the gun in John’s face. He stopped directly in front of John.
He snapped, “So, you think you did pretty good today?”
Trying to diffuse the situation, John replied, “No sir. I think we did pretty good, don’t you?”
Pulling up a chair, Stranger sat across from John. I apologize for the scare. We just have to be sure you are loyal to the cause. It is important that we return the money to the proper owners. You did good.”
He pulled his checkbook from his pocket and wrote - Pay to the order of Mr. Black, $2,000. He slid the check across the table. John thanked him.
“Meet me at 3000 Baring Street tomorrow at 5:00 a.m.” It needs to be early, but I promise you another big paycheck. - Not a word to anybody, got it?”
“Got it. I’ll see you then.”
John returned home. Maureen started to prepare supper.
“No, no, no." Stop right there. I got a raise. We’re eating out.”
Kent was excited, “Can we go to Marra’s?”
”No. We can’t.”
“But Dad, we always go to Marra’s. That’s your favorite restaurant.”
“Not tonight, Son. We’re going to Laurel’s.”
Maureen raised an eyebrow. “That’s too expensive, John. Let’s just go to Marra’s.”
“Not a chance. It’s Laurel’s.”
Kent turned up his nose. “Dad, you don’t mean that place with all the fancy stuff, do you? You know it makes me feel uncomfortable. Spaghetti at Marra’s. Okay.”
John stopped to think. “We’re never going back to Marra’s. Now we can live the high life.”
Maureen raised the other eyebrow.
John finished his meal, and they left for home, but not before John placed a $100 bill next to his empty plate. It shocked Maureen. “John, we live comfortably, but not that comfortable. What’s this all about?”
“I got a raise - and a pretty big one at that! Don’t ask questions. Just enjoy. Now, let’s go.”
Driving home, John realized he hadn’t felt this good in years. Although Keller and Baxter paid well, he wasn’t sure the stress was worth it. Now, he doubled his paycheck, and all it took was a half-hour a day. And John reminded himself, it was for a good cause.
When they arrived home, Kent raced to the TV to play a video game. Maureen folded the laundry, and John sat at the kitchen table quite pleased with himself. He laid his wallet, keys, and paycheck on the table and untied his shoes. His tired feet relaxed as he leaned back in the chair. “Yes, Johnny Boy, you did good today,” he muttered to himself. He stood, gathered his keys and wallet, and headed for the bedroom. He felt a good sleep coming on.
The alarm buzzed. John climbed out of bed. Maureen, not fully awake slurred, “John, what are you doing?” She rolled over and went back to sleep.
That was good news for John. He hadn’t yet come up with an excuse for his early morning departure. He quietly showered and dressed, and he felt fortunate to leave the house with no further questions asked. He appreciated the fact that traffic was not as heavy at 4:30 am as it is at 4:30 pm. The crisp and cloudless morning brought a sense of anticipation to John. He liked his new job, even though a certain amount of danger existed. He took solace in knowing he was serving his community. His vehicle rolled to a stop in front of 3000 Baring Street.
Standing in the shadows, Stranger emerged and motioned for John to follow him. They made their way to 3300 Baring Street. John mused to himself, The Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast - I would have never thought they were into crooked dealings.
Stranger whispered, “We must enter from the back. The safe is in the back office. There are guests here. We must be silent.”
Stranger pulled the key from his trench coat pocket and opened the door. It amazed John. Stranger always had a key. That made the break-ins easy. Stranger opened the safe and together they pulled yesterday's deposit. Money filled Stranger’s briefcase. They left as quietly as they came. Then Stranger spoke. “Mr. Black, I must leave temporarily to turn in the evidence. Meet me at the South Street Diner in a half-hour and I shall pay you.”
John strolled down Baring Street. Three police vehicles whizzed by, sirens blaring. He turned and watched as the cruisers stopped in front of the bed & breakfast he had burglarized. He ran to his car and drove to South Street. Relief flowed over him as he parked the vehicle and walked another block to the diner. Two police officers followed him.
“Sir, may we speak with you for a moment?” John’s heart quickened. Pointing to John’s car, one asked, “Is that your vehicle, sir?”
“Yes, it is. Is there a problem?”
“You were seen leaving the Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast a short time ago.” John could feel a cold sensation envelope his body. “You owe the B & B $149 for your night’s stay, Mr. Davis.”
Relief once again covered John. “I'm not Mr. Davis. My name is John Black. Yes, I was in the area this morning, but I left from my home, not the B & B. My wife can verify that. Here. Here’s my driver’s license.”
The other approached. “There has been a burglary at the Cornerstone. For now, we are to bring him in for questioning. Sir, come with us.”
Stranger kept his head down as he entered the diner.
Maureen started her daily routine of cleaning the house - kitchen first. She wiped the table only to find John’s check. Looking at it, she couldn’t believe it. Pay to the order of Mr. Black, $2000. Maybe a bonus, she thought. But the check wasn’t drawn on Keller and Baxter’s account. She put the check in a safe place then called John.
“Honey, I found a check on the dinner table this morning.” The officer nodded, “Switch to speakerphone, Keep talking.”
“Where did it come from?” I mean, that’s great if it’s a bonus, but that’s the biggest bonus you’ve ever gotten.”
“Yeah, well Honey. It’s been a good year. Hey, I’ll see you later. Gotta go.”
The officer cut in, “Good question, Mr. Black. Where did it come from?”
“Like I said, It’s been a good year.”
The officers led John to an interrogation room. “Sit down, Mr. Black. Make yourself comfortable. We’ll be with you soon.”
The officers looked from behind the one-way glass. John fidgeted and seemed to mumble something to himself. The lead detective entered the room. John sat straight as he extended his hand.
“Mr. Black, my name is Jason Basque. There has been a burglary at the Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast early this morning. You were seen leaving the scene. Tell me what you know about the break-in.”
“Nothing, sir. I was walking down Baring Street, but I saw nothing of a break-in.”
“We have witnesses. Now, what do you know?”
Again, John lied. “I know nothing about a break-in. I was out for an early morning walk, and I passed the B & B, but that’s all I can tell you. Do you plan to arrest me?”
“No, not right now, but we will be watching you - very closely. There has been a slew of burglaries in the area lately. For now, you may go.”
Stranger waited in the back seat of John’s car. John opened the door and noticed a figure dressed in a gray trench coat and black fedora. Hoping for a positive answer, John whispered, “Stranger, is that you?”
“Yes. Get in and drive. Make sure nobody is following you. Head toward Tasker. When we get to the stoplight, tell me. Until then, don’t turn around. Don’t talk.”
John continued to drive across town, Traffic moved slow but steady. Finally, he turned on to Tasker Street and looked in the rear-view mirror. A police cruiser pulled out behind him. Putting his head down, he said, "Stranger, I know I'm not supposed to talk, but there's a cop directly behind us."
"It's probably nothing. Just make sure you obey all the traffic signs, Watch your speed. I know it's only 25 miles per hour, but the cops pull people over here all the time. Just keep going, and don't make any careless mistakes."
© 2020 William Kovacic
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 23, 2020:
I have just read all four chapters, and I think this is an interesting story. John was too desperate for money or a job, so he hasn't questioned the validity of this job. This is a good story filled with tense moments. I look forward to reading the next chapter.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 23, 2020:
I'm not too crazy about the way John talks to his wife, but maybe I'm being a little peevish. Interesting story so far. The dialogue seems a bit stilted. Try using contractions to make it feel more real. :) Merry Christmas, my friend.
Ann Carr from SW England on December 23, 2020:
The tension increases! Who is good? Who is bad? Why did 'Stranger' choose him? I find that I've been holding my breath when I get to the end of each episode! Great writing.