I woke up the next morning, to the feeling of being nudged and poked. I thought it was the cats demanding breakfast; however, I came to the sudden realization…. CATS DON’T TALK.”
“Laura”, the voice said “L-A-U-R-A.” I wanted to bury myself under the covers and make the nasty voices go away. “C’mon Laura.”
I opened my eyes to a guy standing over me. I would have screamed, but I realized very quickly that it was Gerry, my super. “Damn!” I yelled, “Don’t ever do that. You were this close to eating wood pal.” I jumped out of bed and grabbed my housecoat.
“Sorry, I was worried. I saw the unmarked outside and wasn’t sure if something else had happened since Monday.” “Nope, no one has done me in yet.”
Gerry and I had been friends for years. As I mentioned before, we were in the same high school and I got him this job as super here, out of guilt; since inadvertently I had gotten him fired from his taxi driver job—which he later admitted to hating anyway. Now he drives strictly for the airport limo service.
“Do you often take such liberties with your master key?”
“No but I was worried. I hadn’t seen you for a couple of days.”
“You weren’t the one responsible for letting the goon in last weekend were you?”
“Good, who was then? “That was Ray, the relief super.”
“He should be fired and have his ass kicked. No one should have the right to get in here without 24hrs written notice—you know that and Ray knows that too, or he should. The privacy of my home has been violated, and he’s responsible for this nightmare. I am under protective surveillance and I feel like I can’t go anywhere because I’m afraid of being followed! You try living like that!” I was so angry I was shaking.
When I managed to regain my calmness, I asked him, “Can Ray describe the delivery guy or the truck?”
“Maybe, why?” he asked. “Ray said there were two of them, and they had a big box that they needed to deliver.”
“The police need a description of whoever delivered ‘my package’ and the truck.” “Ray didn’t want to let him in, but the guy said it was a surprise. Ray told me the guy said he would make it worth his while to do this.”
“Did Ray tell the police any of this?”
“Not sure. After he sobered up, Ray told me, that the delivery man was very persuasive. He told Ray he was just the messenger and his head would roll if he didn’t make the delivery.” Ray also mentioned the guy looked menacing.
“Ray really needs to tell the police what he knows for everyone’s sake. I can’t give out any information right now, but the delivery man could be a person of interest.” at this point
“I’ll take Ray over later on and get him to see one of those sketch artist guys.” says Gerry.
I looked at Gerry, and crumbled. I just couldn’t take any more. He took me in his arms and stroked my hair, kissed my forehead. Then he stood back, looked at me and told me to get dressed. He was taking me out to breakfast. Judging by Gerry’s culinary tastes, I assumed we would be heading to Timmy’s but he surprised me with a trip to Smitty’s. Gerry is basically a good guy. I have ribbed him about being a bad ass some days, but he really does have a good heart.
When in a potentially deadly predicament like mine and I do count having a dead body dumped in my living room by someone who may also be targeting me as potentially deadly. It’s best to have as many friends at my disposal as possible. Having an unmarked in the parking lot of my apartment building, and several locks on my door gave me some sense of feeling safe. However, just in case whoever dumped Velcro at my doorstep was following me, it never hurt to be seen in public with someone like Gerry, who could pass as a bouncer at Hooters. Gerry was the kind of ‘muscle’ I needed to send the back off message out there. What I needed to consider were the times when Gerry might not be around. What would I do then? A gun was a possibility but I couldn’t aim worth a damn, and as the city wanted to cut down on guns, I wanted to avoid handling one. Pepper spray was the next rational possibility. While it would not be on equal footing as a gun or knife, I could just spray the person and get the hell out of harm’s way. In the meantime I just hoped the police were advancing on the case. My Mom was still insisting I stay with them until the guy was caught. I wanted to avoid putting them in danger. I also thought living with them would drive me batty. I haven’t lived at home since I was 21. Since then I have done the college thing and the marriage thing, the divorce thing, and I see my self as fiercely independent. Running home to Mommy and Daddy wasn’t going to help. I begged off, mainly for their safety. Transporting my pets over to their house was inconvenient because I wasn’t leaving them for Gerry to watch. I already had police protection of sorts that could not be transferred –what would the neighborhood gossips say about a “strange” car parked on the street 24/7. Her comment about having a guard dog did not hold water with me—yeah right Toto, the killer Yorkie, wasn’t going to do much to serve and protect anyone. Sean and Seamus would eat the dog for lunch anyway, another good reason not to go there. All this being said; the bottom line is to solve this crime so I can get back to what passes for a normal life.
Gerry had agreed to keep his eye on the comings and goings around the building and to help keep the police abreast of any strange faces around the neighborhood. Later that same evening, Inspector Gibbons called to check up on me and to see if I had recalled anything more which might be important. Right now the case was lukewarm at best and they were working on the list of leads they had. Right in the middle of the conversation, there was an earthshaking kaboom in my parking lot. I stretched the phone cord as far as I could, to peer out the window. My onsite protection had just gone up in smoke; the unmarked had blown up, complete with the officer aboard. “Oh my God” I screamed into the phone. “Call 911, and get over here.”
“Why?” he yelled back. “What’s going on?”
“The unmarked just exploded.”
The line went dead. It didn’t take long for EMS and police to surround the building. Gerry and Gibbons showed up on my doorstep at the same time. Thank goodness no one else was in the back lot and my own car was far enough away from the unmarked. It had been parked in the back forty next to the dumpster—to remain inconspicuous, but not enough I guess, as some one had figured it out and eliminated my only source of official protection. The only thing to catch fire besides the car was the dumpster. There really wasn’t enough left of the patrol car, or its driver to examine. I just had to wonder if the next kaboom would be the building. Gibbons sent a bomb squad through the building along with a couple of hounds, just to make sure we weren’t going up in smoke anytime soon.
Just at that point the phone rang. As a reflex I answered it, prepared to ask the person to please call back. What I got was a voice on the phone that sent chills up and down my spine.
“Whatcha gonna do now Bitch, without the cops to protect you?”
“Who is this?” I said, “What do you want with me?”
“It’s my way of letting ya know I don’t appreciate the attempts made to repo my car.”
“So why are you calling me? I didn’t do it.”
“You tracked me down. That’s enough for me. You turned your hound onto me to make the collection. I can deal with a lot of shit, Lady, but no one takes my car ya get my meaning?”
“Uh yeah”, I hesitated.
I motioned Gibbons to come and listen in but instead he grabbed the phone “Gibbons here,” he said. “Who is this?” Click, the line disconnected.
“Damn. What did you do that for?” I yelled, “I was handling it!” “It’s not for you to handle, its police business,” he yelled back.
“The hell it is! It’s my life. He was threatening mine not yours!” I was nose to nose with the detective at this point.
“Ok,” he said, “I can appreciate that, but you aren’t the one investigating, we are.”
“Yeah, well a lot of good that is, with a dead cop and burning car in the back lot, and no solid leads.” “Now I have a strange man whispering threats in my ear, so what’s next,” I thought.
“What are you going to do now Einstein, replace him with another sitting duck?” “Easy, we bug the phone. Move you to a safe place and move a decoy in to make it look like everything is normal, like you are still here. More enforced obvious police presence in the neighborhood.”
“I agree to bugging my calls. But a decoy? And where am I going to go? I have pets! I have a life. I have to work, pay bills.”
Gerry jumped in at this point, “I want to help here; Laura and the menagerie can stay with me. I will go where she goes, except of course to the ladies’ room.”
“Thanks Gerry but you can’t guard me 24/7. You have to work and what are your girlfriends gonna say about me on your sofa bed?”
“Well I just won’t have the girls over and anyway my life is dull. A couple of cats ought to shake things up. I also have vacation time coming to me, for a few weeks. Too tell you the truth, there aren’t that many girls.” He winked.
It takes a real man to admit to that much. We both looked at the police detective for approval of the plan, to which we got a nod.
“What I need,” says Gibbons, “is to know word for word what he said. Was there any accent or vocal inflection?”
I told Gibbons pretty much word for word what the guy on the phone had said to me. No accent but he had the street lingo down pretty good.
“Street Lingo?” asked the detective
Yeah like rap talk, gangsta stuff
Gerry looked at me like “What do u know about that shit?” “I listen to 50 Cent. I’m down with that.” “You scare me, Laura,” Gerry said.
“Don’t worry. I scare me too.”
“Well,” says Gibbons, “we’ll get the decoy in here and the bug on the phone. Take everything you’re going to need out have here, down to Gerry’s, and you might want to get a wig or a dye job so you look different. We want to make sure our suspect thinks he is following you around when it’s the decoy. We’ll provide you with a rental car so the decoy can drive yours.”
“Meanwhile, you and Gerry ride together for tonight.”
Gerry grabbed a baseball hat and a pair of sunglasses and said, “Come on ‘cousin’ Cindy we’re going shopping.”
Gibbons headed for the door, and looked at both of us. “Good luck Gerry. You may need it with this one.”
“Me too” and he slung my duffel bag over his shoulder.
I stuck my tongue out at both of them Grabbed the cat carrier and headed out of my apartment.
Gerry got my stuff settled in his room, after he lost the toss over who got the bed.
“I was going to give it to ya anyhow.”
“Yeah sure, I believe you. Millions wouldn’t, but I do.”
“Come on Red” he said. “We’ve got some things to do. Like shop for hair dye.”
“Red, as in what, hair colour? How do you know I didn’t want to go blond?”
“You ain’t any blond schweetheart”
“Schweetheart?? Who do you think you are, Bogie?”
“That’s the worst Bogie I have ever heard, and why red?”
“Got a visual of you as a redhead—Julia Roberts Red. It works for me somehow. With sexy librarian glasses and stiletto heals—fishnet stockings.” I picked up a pillow and threw it at him.
“Can the fantasies, Fitz.”
We left the apartment building through the side door and headed back to his truck. I was sporting his jean jacket, Jays cap and Ray Bans as a disguise. We decided to eat dinner first –and then go shopping. I lost the toss on the radio station so we headed toward the No Frills, with Eminem booming from the stereo.
I hoped our “rooming” together was going to work out before I went totally nuts, or the guy got caught which ever came first. I called my mom to tell her I was going on vacation for a bit. This was just to sidetrack the issue that I really didn’t want to stay with them instead of Gerry. If they knew I was staying with Gerry there would be too many questions asked. So I just figured I would tell them I was staying at Elaine’s cottage and they could reach me on my cell. I hung up before mom could start up with the safety lectures. It was better off that she thought I was going off with the girls for a week. The next call was to the agency to state that I was taking a stress leave and I would call when I was available for work.
I think all the bases were covered. I told Elaine that my folks thought we were off together and not to call there looking for me. None of my other friends would call my folks, so that tied up those loose ends. We stopped at a fast food joint to grab dinner, and make a list of provisions we would need.
We got our shopping done. After returning to Gerry’s apartment, I dyed my hair “Julia Roberts” red, dried it and put in brown contacts. The transformation was amazing! I felt like a new woman. Gerry had fallen asleep on the couch while I was in the bathroom. I turned off the TV and headed to bed early. There was a message on Gerry’s answering machine that my car was being dropped off at ten am at the department’s expense. My new life, such as it was, was about to begin. Until the killer/stalker was caught I was Cynthia Fair, Gerry’s cousin.