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.
- Black - Part 6
John is learning some hard lessons the hard way.
From Part 6
With no work lined up, John took to driving the streets until his usual time to arrive home. The sun hadn’t set yet, but he noticed the lights were turned off. He entered the house and joked, “Honey, you trying to save electricity?”
Maureen wasn’t amused. “No, I’m not trying to save electricity. We don’t have electricity.”
“I’ll check the breaker.”
“No need to do that.” Maureen gritted her teeth. “We don’t have electricity because you didn’t pay the bill. John, what’s going on? The bank called today. The checks you’ve been depositing are fake. Who is Bridgeman and Son? The mortgage hasn’t been paid. The bank said you owe more than $42,000, and they want to know how you plan to pay it back.”
“What! That can’t be!”
“John, level me. What is going on?”
“I paid all the bills. I paid our bills two months in advance.”
“No. That’s not the case - not the case at all. Bridgeman and Son doesn’t exist. It was a construction outfit, but a few years they went under. Now, tell me, what’s going on?”
John’s state of shock showed. It was clear to Maureen he really thought the work was legitimate.
“Honey, we’re in big-time trouble. What are we going to do? And what’s your new job about. I talked with Max this afternoon. I know you’re not working for him.”
“No. No, I’m not working for Max. Money was missing on my watch, and he fired me. I couldn’t find the words to tell you. Then that afternoon I got a job offer that was too good to pass up - or so I thought.”
“Honey, who are these people? They seem dangerous. I don’t want you getting caught up in an illegal activity.”
The phone rang. John picked it up. “Mr. Black,” Charles spoke. “We’re watching you. We hear every word you are saying. You tell your wife anything about this operation and you’re both dead. Oh, and the little boy - you can write him off as well. Am I clear?”
“Yes. Yes. Quite clear.”
“Now, I have a job for you and Stranger. Meet him at Rita’s Water ice-1511 Spruce Street at 9:00 sharp. Stranger will give you the details. I’ll pay you in cash. It will be enough to pay off your bills at the bank. Now, remember - spill the beans and your wife and boy are dead. Got it?”
“Yes. Got it.”
John looked at Maureen. “I can’t talk now. I need to go.”
He ran to the door and jammed the car in reverse. As he backed the car down the driveway, a police vehicle passed his house. John's choice was to lose him so he could go faster, or follow him hoping he would turn soon. Running out of time, John chose to turn at the next light and hurry on to Spruce Street.
A panicked Maureen called for Kent. “Kent! Get down here now!”
A startled Kent threw his earbuds on his bed and hurried down the stairs.
“What did I do now, Mom?”
“Nothing. Come with me.” They ran to Maureen’s vehicle and started after John. They spotted him two-and-a-half blocks away. She kept her distance.
The sultry summer night would not allow John to park too close to the water ice stand. Scores of people mingled as John approached, keeping his eye open for Stranger. He was nowhere to be found. Time passed as John continued to seek Stranger to no avail. He found a secluded corner and called Charles.
“Charles, I’ve not been able to find Stranger. I’ve been looking all over for him.”
“And what time did I tell you to meet him?”
“And what time is it now?”
“Call your wife and tell her to stop following you. I’m telling you, Mr. Black, she’s a dead woman.”
"John was puzzled. “What do you mean? Following me?”
“She and the boy have been following you since you left. They’re just a couple of blocks behind. Now, call them off.”
In the mood to answer her cell phone, Maureen was not. John left a message, but he knew she would never check it.
Charles set the hit for 10:00. "You have little time. Go back to your car and wait. Hurry!”
John ran hard, pushing his way through the crowd. Maureen parked her vehicle three cars back from John and waited. She watched as a man wearing a trench coat and fedora hat climb into the back seat of John’s car. Should she warn John? She waited.
John opened his car door and slid in behind the wheel. Stranger spoke. “It’s about time. We need to hurry. We only have twenty-three minutes. Turn left at the next corner and pick up the pace. I’m trying to save your wife. We have to lose her before we can do the job.”
John sped through the night, but he couldn’t lose Maureen. In a panic, Stranger shouted, “Pull over. Pull over. Let me drive.”
Stranger twisted and turned down the streets at breakneck speed until Maureen was nowhere in sight. On the next street, Stranger parked the car and grabbed a bag he placed in the back seat. The target was Parke Bank. The two ran through the night to 1610 Spruce Street and circled to the back of the building.
Before entering, Stranger reached into the bag and pulled out two ski masks. “Here Mr. Black. Put this on.” John wanted to ask a question, but Stranger cut him off. “There’s no time for small talk. Just put it on. Wear these gloves, too - and touch only what you have to. Here. Take this, too. You might need it.”
Stranger handed John a Smith & Wesson M&P EZ. “What’s this for?” John asked. Stranger repeated himself. “You might need this. Now, let’s go.”
As they approached the bank, Stranger pulled out the stolen key fob and opened the back door. Using a flashlight, he punched in the code to disable the alarm, and the two were off to make money.
Stranger spray-painted the cameras as he went. He opened the large safe door, and John followed him as he began breaking drawer locks and helping himself to stacks of wrapped bills. They loaded their backpacks, and they were ready to make their way out when John heard a noise.
“What’s that?” He whispered.
“I think someone just came in the front door.”
“What do we do?”
“Like I said, you may have to use that gun. When he comes around the corner, shoot him. It’s either him or you. Make it him.”
Bank Manager, Jenny Jackson, turned the corner and immediately saw the safe open. As she approached, she asked, ”Who’s there?” There was no answer. She stepped in front of the safe. John froze. Stranger, from behind, placed his hands over John’s and fired three bullets, ending Jenny’s life.
“Come on! Let’s get out of here.” Stranger led a shaken John back to the car and drove off. John’s mind started to clear.
“What just happened back there?”
Realizing John was confused and disoriented, Stranger said, “You just killed a woman. Now, let’s get out of here.”
© 2021 William Kovacic
William Kovacic (author) from Pleasant Gap, PA on July 26, 2021:
It's been too long, Bill, and I feel rusty. Hopefully, things are coming around. Thanks for your encouragement.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 26, 2021:
You're back and as good as ever. Good to see! Good to read!