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Trip on This: Chapter Thirteen (Part Two)

Chapter Thirteen (Part Two)

“You got it?”  I ask the minute we reach the hotel and are safely in our room.

“I got it,” Vandalia grins, pulling a packet out of her bag.  “The manager was more than delighted to help me and completely understood how a touch of arthritis made signing my name so difficult.  He did so admire my ID, though.”  She and Mowgli laugh in triumph, but I’m too focused on the manila envelope sitting on the bed in front of me.  I pick it up and heft it in my hand.  It seems too slim to have caused so much trouble.

“This is all there was?”  I ask, toying with the clasp.  Now that I have it, I’m suddenly nervous.  What if it doesn’t have what we need?  What if it’s all been nothing?  All the scheming, the planning, the conniving.  I dismiss these unworthy nervous thoughts and pull the envelope to me.

“That’s it, buckeroo.”  Vandalia drawls.  “Sean, the manager, assures me that nobody has been in the box except for moi.”  The self-satisfied smirk on her face grows as she leans back on the bed.

“Open it, Del,” Mowgli says impatiently, itching to rip it from my hands and open it himself.  “Let’s see what we got here.”

I slowly open the packet, my fingers suddenly cold.  I pull back the flap and plunge my hand inside, pulling out first a sheaf of papers, then another key.  The three of us stare in bewilderment at the key for a minute, not sure that we are seeing what we see.  I turn the envelope upside down and shake it—empty.  The silence is unnerving as none of us can think of what to say.  I pick up the sheaf of papers and leaf through them, handing each page to Mowgli when I’m through.  He, in turn, hands it to Vandalia.  The three of us read, frowning as we do so.  There is a bunch of legalese which makes no sense, but what it boils down to is that O’Reilly, Peters and a ‘silent partner’ own a nascent company called BLots which in a year or so will be ‘challenging the stranglehold that Nike has on the sneaker world’.  The company is based in Juarez, Mexico, and a Senor Ramon Lopez-Garcia is the nominal president.

“This is it?”  Vandalia asks, setting down the last page of the document.  “This is the reason those girls were killed?”

“Not the whole reason, I don’t think,” I say, shooting a glance at Mowgli.

“I agree,” Mowgli nods his head.  “I mean, it’s sleazy, but it’s not exactly illegal.”  He leans back on the bed and closes his eyes to think.  The three of us are huddled on my bed, all frowning.

“I think it’s a blind,” I finally say.  “This stuff is crap, and I think Blanche understood that in her dim way.  That’s why she put the second key in the box; it opens the box that holds the real stuff.”

“Question is, where is the second box?”  Vandalia asks, her face serious for once.  No one ask the question they are all thinking—how many boxes are there?

“Another bank?”  Mowgli asks, his voice unsure.

“No,” I say, examining the key.  “This isn’t a bank key.”  I show it to them, displaying the number on it—A341.  “Some kind of locker or perhaps storage room,” I muse, turning the key over in my hand.  On the other side of the key is a tiny inscription that says, “R. Bros.” on it.

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The Daily Grind, Part II

This is another story set in my dystopian world that has banned abortion and contraceptives. I got the idea from my good friend and co-blogger at Angry Black Lady Chronicles, Ian Boudreau, who wondered what it would be like to be someone who enforces the laws in such a world, so this story is dedicated to him.  

Once again, I have broken it into two posts because I’m wordy as fuck. This is part two. Read part one here

“Ralph, honey, dinner’s ready.”  Sarah poked her head into Ralph’s home office and flashed him a nervous smile.  “Come eat while it’s hot.”

“I’ll be there in a minute, Sar.”  Ralph smiled fondly at his wife.  “I’m just finishing up the last of my paperwork.”  Sarah slipped out of the room and quietly shut the door.  Ralph returned to the papers in front of him and frowned.  He scribbled his signature three times in succession before stuffing the papers into his briefcase and snapping it shut.  He pushed his briefcase to the very edge of his desk and glared at it in distaste.  He closed his eyes for a minute before going into the dining room.

“Pass the salt, please.”  Ralph handed the shaker to Sarah so she could pass it to Leah, third of their five children.  The family ate in relative silence for several minutes, focusing on the stew and potatoes.  Sarah was watching the others eat more than she was eating herself, and when she saw Junior reach the end of his bowl, she poured half of her stew into his empty bowl.

“Ma, I’m fine,” Junior said automatically, though he began eating his extra serving even before Sarah was done pouring.  He was the starting quarterback for the Jericho Horns, and he never felt like he had enough to eat.  He didn’t complain about it, of course, because he knew that his parents did the best they could.  Still, there wasn’t a night in which he didn’t go to bed with a twinge in his gut.

“You’re a growing boy,” Sarah said firmly, her cornflower blue eyes flashing indignantly.  “You need it more than I do.”  She scraped out the last bit of beef from her bowl into Junior’s and placed the last piece of bread onto his plate as well.  The other four children studiously ate the food on their own plates and didn’t seem to notice the interplay between mother and oldest brother.
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