With no place left to go, Amato and Cassie wander a bit before Amato turned to her, “Cass, things are gonna get rough. I only got one card to play before it’s over for me, you should go.” he said as snowflakes began to gently fall from the sky. It was freezing and there was a storm on the way. As the wind blew, Cassie brushed her hair from her face and said, “That’s the problem with you cops, there’s no fedelta.”
“What?” he asked confused.
“Loyalty, fidelity” she explained, “My father taught us that it trumped everything, even your own life.”
“Yeah, and see where that got him?” It was low but it had to be said, “This isn’t a game anymore, both the police and the FBI are after us. We’re gonna need more than loyalty to get through this. We need a crew and I think I know where I can get one.”
“I’m down, you know that,” she answered without hesitation. This wasn’t exactly what he wanted to hear but he had no other plans. So he said, “Alright, we’re going to Whitfield Street.”
“That’s where the bums hang out, what’s over there?”
“Not what, but who,” Amato answered as he began walking again.
Ten minutes later, they arrived at a bridge and there, Amato stopped dead in his tracks. Looking around him, he scanned the area for anything out of place. Uncomfortable, Cassie looked over her shoulder and was frightened to see two eyes peeping out from the bushes just a few feet from them. Grabbing Amato’s arm, she leapt behind him, making him laugh, “See, you found it!”
As Amato approached, the man fled to a tent city right under the bridge hidden in a mini forest of unkept shrubs and grass. It was perfectly camouflaged from the rest of the world and he probably wouldn’t have found it if it weren’t for Cassie and Mr. Peepers.
Sliding down the steep slope, he and Cassie hung on to each other so they wouldn’t fall straight onto the highway below. As they got closer, they could see the blue and green tents encircling each other.
No one said a word as the strangers stood at the entrance of their camp looking for a familiar face. Seeing an old man near a fire whittling a piece of wood, Amato smiled. He told Cassie to stay back and approached cautiously. Sitting on a milk crate across from him, the old man looked up at Amato, and said, “Come to slum it with the rest of us, eh?” Amato smiled and answered him, “Yeah, the punk ass kid you tried to school finally learned his lesson.” However instead of laughing, the old man went back to his woodwork and a long silence hung over the two of them. If the point was to make Amato uncomfortable the old man succeeded. “Is this part where I tell you, you were right and I was wrong?” Amato asked.
“Nope,” the old man said as he reached into his dark brown jacket. Pulling out what appeared to be a black leather wallet of some kind, Cassie squinted as she tried to see what was going on between the two of them. Handing the wallet over to Amato he immediately opened it and saw a badge inside. This wasn’t just any badge but one with a black band on it, it was the badge of a fallen officer. Before he could ask, the old man said, “Go to the VFW on Sauers Avenue, and ask for Jimmy the General, he’s the only one who can help your sorry ass now.”
“Thanks, for everything! This means the worl…”
“Ah shut up you friggin’ twat” the old man said, completely dismissing him. Nearly bursting into laughter Amato just calmly put the wallet in his pocket. Then going over to Cassie he said, “Come on, we got work to do.”
“What was that?” she asked totally confused.
“It’s my new passport,” he answered.
Still not clued in she began to ask, “What? I thought we were staying.”
“Changed my mind, I was thinking of going somewhere nice, you in?”
“Hell yeah.” She said without hesitation.
Wrapping his arm around her, they began to leave the homeless camp. Hiking up the trail back to the bridge, he casually said, “God, I’m thirsty. I need something to drink, how bout you?”
“Yeah, I’m parched,” Cassie said nearly exhausted after being been on the run for the past 3 hours. As they walked the entire length of the bridge they saw a small grocery store in sight. Pulling out a twenty, he handed it to Cassie and said, “See if you can get us something, I’ll try to call an old contact and see if he can set us up with a place to stay.”
“Okay,” Cassie said and went inside the store. Putting his phone right back into his pocket Amato watched as she disappeared into the crowd of shoppers, “Sorry Cass, but your part of the story is over,” he said as he began to walk away.
When Cassie finally made it out of the store, she saw no one there and felt a surge of rage coursing through her veins, “Son of a bitch!” she said as she threw the blue plastic bag against the building. She looked like a lunatic to the people in the parking lot who began to slowly move away from her.
Where did he go? Why did he go? Was he just screwing with her head? All of these questions ran through Cassie’s mind as she paced back and forth in her white canvas Sketchers. Seeing that she was making a scene, she began to walk away, “When I find him, there will be hell!” she growled. As if in agreement, Mother Nature sent a gusting wind that blew the plastic bag out of her hand. Dancing around in the air, it finally landed in a tree marking the very spot where Amato ghosted.
Rachel Rueben is author of the bestselling YA novel “Hag” and “The Eternal Bond Series” both available on Wattpad. To keep up with Rachel, you can sign up for her frighteningly entertaining newsletter here.