You may have noticed that I have some slight problems controlling my temper. What happened next could only be described as a nuclear conniption fit.
“What? How the hell did that happen?” I screamed at Johnny, not waiting for his response as I pushed past him into the small home. If he answered, I ignored him.
The front room was an absolute mess. Furniture was overturned; shards of glass were strewn on the floor. I picked my way carefully through the chaos, trying to get to the couch where Stu’s body rested. I never should have left. I should have been a big boy and dealt with my nightmares like normal people…however they do it. I screamed in frustration as I saw the ligature marks around Stu’s neck. Vic must have used a cord or rope to kill my friend. This did not bode well for Vic. I would see to it personally that he paid a heavy price for his treachery. Granted, I did abduct him. But I didn’t kill him. Yet.
“I’m sorry, Jared. I know you and Stu had become pretty good friends over the last few weeks.” Johnny looked heartbroken.
“Did you see where he went?” I managed to get out through gritted teeth.
“Pretty sure he went east. My head was spinning from his right hook, but I’m pretty sure…”
“Give me your keys.”
“Don’t screw with me! Give me your damn keys!” I screamed. He sighed and reached into his pocket. He tossed me the keys.
“Get out of town, Johnny. Things are gonna get bad. Really bad. Really, really, soon.” I said as I left.
“Jared, don’t do something you will regret.” He warned. He knew what I was thinking. But there was nothing that could stop me.
I peeled out as I sped down the east road. Johnny had a little red Volkswagen that was probably as old as me, but I didn’t need a brand new car for what I had in mind. All of the logic in the world couldn’t convince me to turn back now and cut my losses. Every primal instinct inside of me had kicked in. I would find Vic. I had to find Vic. Not because it was the smart thing to do so my cover wasn’t blown, but because he had killed someone I had begun to consider family. In the animal kingdom, each protects his own. And at our core, each of us are still one thing; animals. No amount of emotion, money, fancy cars, or number of girlfriends could ever change it. In the end, we’re all just animals. And I was a great white shark who just sensed blood in the water. In the end, I was the predator. And Vic was about to become my prey.
It occurred to me that I didn’t ask Johnny how long it had been since Vic left. To be honest, it didn’t matter much to me. All that mattered was catching him. I knew the general area he lived in, but I didn’t know exactly where. The fastest way on foot would be the road I was currently driving on. I couldn’t imagine Vic being much of a track star, so I knew I had to be gaining on him.
Guilt settled in again as I sped down the rarely busy street. I never should have left. Then again, had I stayed in bed, Vic could have killed me too. But I still felt responsible for Stu’s death. I felt horrible. I felt vulnerable. There had been a breach in the security of all my planning, and the results had already been disastrous. I had to patch the breach. I had to fix this, but I knew that I could never bring Stu back. That brought back the anger. I sped up.
The streets were mostly empty, save a few people walking on the sidewalks. I would definitely be able to see someone running as fast as they could in the opposite direction. I flew down the road like a bat out of hell. I was so lost inside my own head I didn’t notice the police car behind me until he turned on his siren. I knew I was speeding, but I hadn’t realized I was going about forty over the limit. This was about to get complicated. I pulled over slowly. There wasn’t much chance of winning a high-speed chase with a police cruiser in the Volkswagen. But I was sure I was gaining on Vic, and I knew I couldn’t afford the wasted time of getting a ticket. For Hell’s sake I didn’t even have an Illinois license.
It was then that I noticed something odd; the cop had someone riding in the front seat of his car. Someone who looked nervous. Someone who was breathing really hard. Someone who looked very familiar. Vic. Interesting turn of events.
The cop climbed out of the car, walking the way all cops do when they know they get to give a big ticket. I don’t know why, but they really seem to enjoy giving the big ones. I had received my share from practicing my art of arson. I could see the gun at his hip, unbuttoned in its holster. He didn’t seem too concerned with the unassuming VW in front of him. But he didn’t know he had just pulled over a shark. A shark who smelled blood. This was going to be the day that I got a very large bounty put on my head. This was also the day a dear friend of mine died, and his assailant was no more than thirty feet behind me, completely unaware of me. This was definitely going to bite me in the ass, but I could feel Stu’s blood screaming at me from the little house I had left miles behind. Vengeance was coming.
As the officer sauntered over, I counted to ten. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Maybe I should forget it, eat the ticket, and follow the cop to wherever Vic wanted to go. Logic and reason pointed that way, but my anger was beyond logic. Self-control had left about an hour ago, and the only thing I could think of was Stu. I should have been there. But I wasn’t. Now he was dead. At the count of three I was ready to drop my anger. By six, I wanted blood again. It didn’t take me much longer to slowly start to open the door, without opening it too far. Just enough so I could kick it into that smug bastard cop’s face when he got close enough.
He seemed to sense something was wrong, as he slowed his gait. I held still, even held my breath, hoping he would just consider it nerves or paranoia. He hesitated, looking back at the squad car. I figured he was probably thinking about calling for backup. I sighed and tipped my head into the hand not holding the door. I tried as hard as I could to feign submission, ready to accept my fine like a man. It worked, to my amazement. I heard his shoes scuff the asphalt as he resumed his walk. I could see the light from his flashlight now. He’d be here in about five more steps. Four, three, two, one…He tapped on the window, shining his light in my face. I slowly started unrolling the window. He started bending down to look into the car. He didn’t get a good look.
As soon as I knew he couldn’t react in time, I opened the door as fast as I could. I threw my shoulder into the door for added impact. The officer went sprawling. I caught him square in the chest, knocking him and his stupid light to the ground. I bounded out of the car and was on top of the officer almost before he hit the ground. I punched him in the jaw twice, slid the gun from the holster, and took off towards his car. I’m guessing here, but I don’t think cops normally leave their cars running. This cop was apparently an idiot. All the better for me. I got to the car in time to see Vic try to dive across the front seat and try to lock the door. He looked petrified. And he should be. I got the door open just in time.
“Well hey there, Vic. Remember me?” I asked. He shriveled back to his seat.
“Please…I don’t know you…I didn‘t do anything to you…Don’t hurt me! What do you want?” He pleaded.
“Keep your mouth shut!” I climbed in the car, pointed the gun in his face, shifted into drive, and peeled out down the road. The cop was still down.
Vic was white as a ghost as I floored it down the empty streets. He didn’t have the guts to try anything at high-speed, so I took the gun out of his face. I whipped around the corner and headed towards the Chicago River. When I lived in Chicago, I used to spend a lot of time looking over the river, which was only a five minute drive from Tryst Tower. That was the other reason I headed towards this particular river. I had some plans that had just jumped up a few days on the calendar. Vic was panicking now. He probably kept begging to be let go, but I couldn’t hear him. I was lost in a blood rage. Vic was mine, and his fate would soon be with the fishes. Trystix would be next. I smiled gravely, and flipped on the siren. Might as well live it up while I had the opportunity.
The river was soon in sight. I found a semi-secluded area and slammed on the breaks. For some reason, traffic was slow in this part of town in the mornings. I never really found out why.
“Get out. I want you to walk to the edge of the river. If you run, I’ll put a bullet in your head so fast you’ll be dead before anyone hears the gun. Move.” I said.
Vic nervously shuffled out of the car, keeping his head down, looking rather pathetic. I could respect that. A man who had now been kidnapped twice by the same man probably knew he was at my mercy. I watched him a moment, then got out of the squad car. The police probably had some form of GPS, so I had to make this quick.
“I need your uniform, Vicky. Take it off.”
“Because I said so, and I’m the one with the gun.”
“Are you going to kill me?”
“Probably. But for now, I need you to take off your uniform.”
“If you’re going to kill me anyway, why should I?” Ok. He needed some motivation.
“Because I can keep you alive a very, very, long time if you don’t.”
He moved quickly, stripping down to a dirty white tank top and boxers that looked like a shower curtain. He folded his uniform carefully, then placed it on the hood of the car.
“Thank you. Now it’s your turn, Vic. Turn around and walk to the edge of the river.”
“Wha-…Please! Don’t kill me!” He slowly turned and walked to the water.
I’ll be honest. I really, REALLY, wanted to blow his brains out. But for some reason, be it his pathetic countenance or perhaps a small case of humanity in myself, I decided not to. But I couldn’t let him know that. Not yet. I quietly released the magazine into my hand and slipped it into my pocket. I checked the safety, making sure it was on. I had use for the gun, just not the usual one. I took my time getting over to where Vic stood, shaking like a leaf, looking out over the water.
“Vic. You killed one of my friends. You punched out another one. Give me one reason I shouldn’t blow your head off. It better be a damn good one. Consider me your judge, jury, but mostly an executioner.”
“I…I…I have a family.”
“Don’t lie to me! I’ve been following you for a month! DO NOT TEST ME!” I yelled as I kicked the back of his left knee. He buckled and slammed to the ground.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” He was crying now. How pathetic.
“Get up. This is your last chance. Tell me why this world will be better with you in it.”
“I…I don’t know. I’m a security guard. I’m not important. I just keep Mr. Trystix safe. That’s all. He needs protection. I could…c-c-could protect…you?”
I stared at him for what must have been an eternity in his mind. It was a good minute at least. I scoffed in disgust. He unraveled and shrank back to the dirt. I guess he took my small expression as a bad sign. Fool.
“GET UP!” I yelled.
“Just do it! Just shoot me! I can’t take this anymore. Do it!” He stayed down in the fetal position.
“I’m not going to kill you, idiot!”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone stop crying so fast. He looked up at me with confusion. Nonetheless, he slowly stood.
“That cop is going to be looking for me. Do you know what that means, Vicky?” He shook his head. “It means all traces of me have to be gone. That means this gun, my clothes, the car, and, most importantly, you…”
“But you said you weren’t going to kill me!” He looked nervous again.
“I’m not going to.” I said, then cracked him in the side of the head with the gun. He was out cold.
I picked up his limp carcass and threw him in the backseat of the squad car. I went to the front of the car and changed into his outfit. A little tight, but it fit all right. My old clothes had to go, so I threw them into the icy depths of the Chicago River. I couldn’t guarantee they would stay there forever; hopefully just long enough for me to take care of Trystix and escape the Windy City. Now I had to take care of the car and my old buddy Vic.
I climbed into the driver seat and started the car. I put it in gear and peeled out of the small enclave. There isn’t a whole lot of places you can ditch a cop car inconspicuously, so I decided I’d have to improvise. I had to get out of view of the public eye, but I still needed to be close enough to the city so as to be able to get to Tryst Tower quickly. I stuck mainly to the side streets that are rarely used before the workday begins, thinking quickly and driving faster. Soon, I was driving through the old industrial district that I had scared people in to selling to Trystix a few years prior. I found the building I was looking for; an old warehouse Trystix used for his personal collection of classic cars. It was extremely large, yet kind of withdrawn from the rest of the buildings. It fit his arrogance and selfishness perfectly. Arrogance and pride would contribute to his downfall.
There was no gate, but the security system to get inside the warehouse was top of the line. I know; I picked it out. I got out of the car and walked to the door. It wasn’t locked with a key; the only way in was to know the right combination of six numbers. He couldn’t think of a good one, so I suggested his daughter’s birthday. Bingo. I slid open the big door and quickly opened up the big gate. I jumped back in the car, and drove inside.
The warehouse was gigantic. Corvettes, GTOs, Mustangs, BMWs, Lamborghinis, and motorcycles of all makes and models were parked in staggered lines along the inner floor. The upper portion of the building was filled to the brim with bookshelves. Honestly, it looked like Trystix had a library up there. I’d never spent much time up there. I was a little more concerned with the cars and motorcycles. You’d think with a collection of books that big or all those gorgeous cars Trystix might spend a lot of time here. Truthfully, I doubt he’d been here in years. Dust covered everything. This was the perfect place to abandon the squad car. The best part was you needed the code to get in and out. Vic wouldn’t have that. He’d be here a while after I’m gone. I felt fine with that; he could eat rats if he had to.
I climbed out of the car and moved to the back seat. Vic was still out cold. Might as well let him sleep. He could figure out the rest. I shut the door and had a good laugh at the thought of Vic trying to get out of the cop car. The beauty of those cars is they are locked from outside of the car. He’d have to kick out a window or break through the cage separating the front from the back. Good luck, Vic.
I said my goodbyes, shut the door, and made my way towards the entrance. I wasn’t leaving yet; that’s where the motorcycles were. I picked out a bright red Harley and opened the saddlebag. Trystix always kept the keys there. I started it up, revved the engine a few times, and slowly wheeled out into the small lot in the front of the building. I stopped and took one last look at the massive collection of classics, blemished only by an older police car. I half-smiled, disgusted by the blatant arrogance of one man. I slammed the door shut. Soon I’d shove his arrogance down his throat.