Revisions and Editing...
Did some revisions, I probably need to do more, here is the first 5 chapters if anyone wants to read them. Honestly if you would like the whole thing let me know and I'll send it.
Saturday, Oct 21st 2017 10:48pm
I walked with a purpose down Colfax. The occasional smell of exhaust, urine, sweat, and spilled beer used to fill my nose, now I smell nothing. Moving quickly through the little spotlights created by cars and lights on the buildings I ignored those I passed. A scantily clad lady stepped in my way and asked me for a cigarette.
“It’s cold, how about we go to my place and warm up.” She said, wearing desperation like it was a cheap dress. I left my cigarettes at home, so I just shook my head and kept walking.
I knew the ladies on this street. The ones who looked scared or desperate were the real deal, the ones who looked like they were fresh from college, were they were usually Vice.
Picking up my pace, I told myself I should have left sooner. My worn trench coat flapped in the night from the brisk stride I had set. I didn’t zip my coat up because then you would see the outline of the baseball bat inside would show. Stopping for a moment at a streetlight, I glanced behind me to make sure I no one followed. Sometimes desperate people make bad decisions, but I had my gun in me. I felt safe.
THUMP! THUMP! THUMP! I felt my breath catch, and my chest tighten. I had to lead against a wall for support, suddenly scared my 2nd chance at life is already over. A car passed me by it’s stereo so loud I couldn’t make out what was playing aside from the bass thumps. THUMP! Thump, thump. The feeling passed, and I took a moment to catch my breath. Unsure what happened, perhaps my old heart has better taste in music than the driver of the car.
Once I felt ok to move, I stepped away from the wall. It wasn’t a wall though, some art status of a lady holding up a globe. I appreciate the city trying to improve my neighborhood, but I can’t understand why they would put up stuff like this. Someone had already made the status anatomically correct using some spray paint.
Thirty feet away, where the new building ended, and the old building began, Crazy Joe was sleeping on the sidewalk. He was curled up under the only payphone in Denver. Old newspapers covered him, fighting for attention as he slept, “PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE SCANDAL!” “Rise In Missing Person Reports In Ri-No!” “T-Rex Project Revisited!” I never figured out why he always hung out there under the payphone, but he would always beg for some quarters.
“Joe, Joe!” I said, hoping to wake him up. As he stirred, he pushed his had away from his eyes to look at whoever was calling his name. I reached into a coat pocket and pulled out a roll of quarters I had gotten for him. Once he realized I was there, he smiled.
“Heeey, Daxx” Joe said still groggy as he sat up. “there was a phone call for you the other day. Some guy with a fiery voice said you missed your ride. He wanted to make sure you were still coming over.” I glanced at the phone mounted to the building. Not even sure if it worked but Joe seems to think it does.
“Here, Joe,” I said as I casually tossed the roll of quarters to him. He caught it easily and smiled. “If anyone else calls for me, tell them they can leave me a message on my home phone.”
“I will. Thank you, Daxx. Now I can call my Sally.” Joe stood up and broke open the roll of quarters. Put the receiver to his ear, inserted two quarters, and started punching numbers on the payphone. I had seen him talk on that phone in passing but never anyone else. Couldn’t hear anything from it and I was certain it didn’t work. I smiled as Joe started talking on the phone. Happiness for him came cheap, for others, it was a bit more difficult.
Once I got within a block of my destination, I slowed my pace to a casual stroll. Didn’t want to scare my target, just wanted to deliver something before I went to work. I found my target standing in front of a music venue. Her light brown skin and jet-black hair reminded me of her mother. The dozen different streaks of red, blue, green, and yellow in her hair reminded me if myself when I was her age. A guitar strapped to her back while standing and talking to a group of young people.
The guitar faced me and was both prophetic and acknowledged who she was incase there was any doubt. The band name, “Signs of Danger,” was written in stylized letters, matching the ones on the marquee in front of the venue.
I walked into the street so I wouldn’t have to fight the crowd. Cars driving by had plenty of room to share the street on a Saturday night. Using the parked cars to help provide cover. I crept closer working my way through a crowd of teenagers.
To her left, leaving against a light pole a few feet away from her, I saw a guard. Big guy, probably six three, looking around. I don’t think he was a professional; he should have seen me coming a mile away. One of the few times my five-eight height worked to my advantage.
Right as I got behind her, she must have sensed a presence. She started to turn around right as I reached into my jacket. The speed of which she went from calm to angry also reminded me of her mother. We should have named her Elizabeth after her mother instead of Karen. The shock of who I was, bought me a few seconds though.
“Get the FUCK away from me!” Karen said loudly and took a step backwards. Her guard also started moving towards me. Her band-mate that were nearby took a step towards us. I had already pulled out what was in my jacket pocket and thrust it at her neck. She moved a hand to block the envelope, as I jabbed it at her, she grabbed it. I quickly let go.
“Call your grandma; she would love to hear you sing,” I growled as I quickly turned away and started walking. The crowd got louder as people were trying to figure out what was happening. It was already over, however, but I did hear her shout at me.
“Dad, you can’t buy my love,” Karen yelled behind me.
She is right; I can’t buy love. I wasn’t trying to; I was trying to buy forgiveness. Walking away as quickly as I could without drawing more attention to myself, I weaved through a throng of people trying to get to the show. As soon as I got to a corner, I turned and then started jogging.
I know deep down that Karen will still hate me. At least I know she won’t be one of those scared and desperate people trying to make money on the street. Living in a cheap motel room, 50 feet from where they ply their trade on Colfax. Once I was far enough away, certain no one was following; I headed towards a bar.
I needed a drink.
Saturday, Oct 21st 2017 11:40pm
“I’ve always told myself that I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Now that I’m dead, there is too much to get done.” The thought crossed my mind again as it always did right around the 5th shot. Charlie slid number 6 down the bar. It stopped two feet from me without spilling a drop. Reaching over to the cup, I lifted it up and downed the contents quickly. Black and tasteless like everything else. My lack of smell and taste was a side effect of my condition. I didn’t usually waste money drinking but tonight was a good night. I got paid.
I waved Charlie towards me after I let the drink settle for a moment. Thankfully the place was mostly empty with only the few dedicated drinkers in attendance.
“I’d like to settle,” I said as I placed a few wrinkled $100’s on the bar.
“Sure, Daxx,” Charlie replied as he walked towards the register. He reached under the counter and pulled out a little ragged notebook stuffed with old receipts between the pages. A tightly leather cord that wrapped around it came undone. I’m not sure how he did it, but he opened it to the page he needed. He pulled out some receipts, closed the book, rewound the cord, and placed it under the bar.
After a minute of him entering numbers into the register, he printed a new receipt. I held my breath pondering if I had enough money to pay the tab off in full as he walked towards me. I liked this bar and wondered if I’ll have to choose between settling or paying some bills. It was my favorite bar, aside from home I spent more time here than anywhere else. Almost every other night, I was here drinking a few trying to relax and wash out the taste of the day. I closed my eyes briefly and prayed to God it was an amount I could handle.
“Charlie, could I...” I started to say in case the amount was more than I could afford. Charlie lay the piece of paper in front of me and slide it closer. I stopped once I could read it, ‘$42.57,’ and I stared. The amount both shocked and puzzled me, how could it be so little? I’ve been drinking probably 4-6 shots a night. Looking up in disbelief at Charlie my jaw hung slightly open.
“Daxx, not sure what happened to you. My business is running the bar, not your personal life, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let good alcohol go to waste.” Charlie said I was still confused, and after a minute of silence, he continued. “One night I accidentally gave you some apple juice I keep for the kids. You didn’t notice it. I tried swapping out your gin with just tonic water. You still didn’t notice it.”
“You’ve been cheating me!” I sputtered as my brain finally caught up. My right hand moved towards the gun I keep near my liver. Charlies right hand reached under the bar. Once I saw his hand disappear I moved my hand slowly up and back on top of the bar.
“Nah, I didn’t charge you for the drinks. You see, I saved ya over $200,” Charlie replied as he pointed to a long list of drinks. All of the drinks that I remembered were there with the dates and times next to them. There was even the glass of wine when I tried flirting with some lady. One glass at $5 and the other was $0.00.
“Figured you were watering down the stuff.” I laughed as I squeezed my left hand.
“Look, Daxx, you’ve been coming here for months. You never cause trouble, and when someone gets too drunk, you’re always the guy offering to call a cab.” Charlie offered a friendly smile. After another uncomfortable moment of silence, he moved his right hand under the bar.
“Whoa, I’m not looking for trouble. I just... I just... I’m not sure what happened to me. I can’t smell or taste...” I said but was interrupted by Charlie.
“Not interested. I just can’t abide screwing customers. Especially good ones like you.” Charlie waved his hand as he spoke. Two waves then both of his hands went back under the bar. I know he keeps weapons under there. Every few feet or so he had a tire iron, baseball bat, or in the case of the register a shotgun nestled under the bar.
“If you aren’t gonna charge me, at least take something for tips.” I said. “thank you, see ya tomorrow.” I stood up from the warm barstool and walked to the door. As I placed my hand on the door, Charlie called out.
“Hey, Daxx. Get some read; you look like shit.” He called out from behind the bar. I looked back and gave a little wave, then stepped out of the Drunken Moose. Immediately I was hit with the sounds of Colfax at midnight on Saturday. People, cars, bits of music, snippets of conversations assaulted my ears.
Right outside of the bar, exactly 20 feet from the door as the law required, was the usual group of smokers. I reached for the pocket where I normally kept my smokes, and it was empty. I recognized someone standing there from one of the various oilfield crews. I asked the question ever smoker asks at some point. “Bum a smoke, Dan?” as I rubbed my hands together out of habit in the cold.
“Sure, man,” Dan replied with a little cloud of condensation. I didn’t think it was that cold out, but all the smokers here were alternating between blowing little clouds of smoke and blowing their warm breath into their hands to keep them warm. Dan held out a rolled cigarette and a lighter. I had forgotten that he rolls his own and since it is Colorado...
“Normal smoke? I gotta work in a bit,” I asked while reaching for the cigarette. A nod from Dan was all I needed as I put it to my lips and flicked the lighter. “thanks man, I owe you.” I said through a small puff of smoke. I handed him back his lighter and stood there quietly enjoying the first few puffs. Something I didn’t miss was the slight burning when smoking, though now I could buy the cheapest and it didn’t matter to me. “
“No problem. Hey, you know of any crews hiring near Parachute?” Dan quickly asked as he always did. Me and the guys figured he had a girl on the side that living out there. I shook my head in reply to his question.
“Ain’t been on a crew since the explosion,” I said, and they all nodded in reply to my comment. The accident and loss of an entire crew except me is well known. It keeps me from getting hired on, partially due to superstition, other part due to insurance. “Besides it’s rough work, getting too old, too tired for it.”
“Meh, you can sleep when you’re dead.” Dan joked as he threw the stuff of his cigarette to the ground and squashed it with his boot. I wanted to tell him he was wrong but I don’t understand the fuck happened to me. How can I explain it to someone else? I thanked him again as I started walking down the sidewalk towards Holly Street. As I walked, I pulled my coat tighter, to block out the cold. Seemed this winter I was always cold; maybe it was time for a new jacket.
At Holly and Colfax, I turned northward to my house. My mood getting fouler as I walked. The neighborhood wasn’t designed for every house to have four cars. Even if I did still drive, I wouldn’t as the streets were tight narrow corridors lined with metal, plastic, glass, and rubber. I liked the cold because it kept most people in doors.
The next block was no longer full of families; it was full of kids thinking it is fashionable to live in a dump. There were more BMW’s in this neighborhood than children. Twenty years ago, I would have robbed some of them on principal, give them a story to tell their friends when they meet at Starbucks.
Shaking my head at gentrification, I got to my place soon enough. The house was built in the 30’s, bought my parents in the 70’s, then sold in the 80’s when my dad died. The current owners have converted the garage into a little guest house. Which I now reside in the garage for cheap after working a job for them.
Walking up to the front door of the main house, I reached in and snagged the mail. The porchlight gave me enough light to figure out which mail was mine and which belong to tenants. I took my mail and placed the rest plus a missing persons flier back in the mailbox. Swiftly I headed to the guest house hoping I didn’t have to talk to anyone.
Once inside the guesthouse I locked it back up: handle, deadbolt, and bar. While the neighborhood has improved, it’s still as dangerous as when I was younger. Also explaining to the police that a dead man could be robbed, doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend the evening.
Turning the kitchen light, I threw my mail on a table. It landed with a little slap and slid until it hit some carboard filing boxes. There would be time later for bills, or whoever else was asking for money. Out of my coat came the baseball bat, can of mace, and small handful of spare bullets. The coat, boots, belt knife, and boot knife also were removed.
Feeling naked I sauntered over to my old lazy boy chair. While I can’t sleep in the chair, I found just relaxing in it always made me feel refreshed. It also gave me some time to process and think about the day. Days I get paid are usually good, seeing Karen was always a mix of both good and bad. With the extra money, I should be able to pay almost all my bills. I closed my eyes, hoping sleep or death would finally take me.
Neither answered my call.
Sunday, Oct 22nd, 2017 2:00 am
Two hours later my alarm went off. I’m not sure if zoning out counts as rest, but it is the closest I get without being on the ground. It took me a moment to stand up as my joins get stiff when I don’t move for a while. Once up I snagged some left over fried chicken and beer.
I stared at the beer for a minute after taking a drink. One of the things I loved about Colorado was all the craft brews and different flavors I could get. Setting the can on the counter, I left it there. I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself; I got work to do.
Working my way through the residential area towards City Park. Someone had been harassing the homeless that were trapped outside at night. I was a few bad weeks away from being homeless myself, so this wasn’t a purely altruistic venture. A few reports of missing people had piqued my interests. My goal tonight was to hopefully catch any suspicious people and write down some license plates.
Carefully I strolled down the streets, taking care to not get near anyone who was sleeping or could be sleeping. The streets were empty, so I turned towards Colfax. That way I can look down the alleys and side streets, hopefully, get lucky. This late at night, only the desperate women were still out. I avoided the younger women and men until I found someone who looked a bit older.
“Hey, you looking for someplace warm?” asked a lady with deep crow’s feet and a faded crimson hair coloring.
“No thank you,” I said, and as soon as the no left my mouth, the lady turned away looking for someone else. “but I’m looking for a suspicious vehicle and some kids bugging homeless people.” I lied, I had zero information about who was doing it, but you catch fish better with a bait.
“I haven’t seen no kids,” she replied after turning to look at me. I held up a ten-dollar bill in my hand. “nor have I seen any men,” as she shook her head.
“How about a truck or van cruising by frequently?” I said as I pulled another ten from a pocket and held it in the same hand. She shook her head.
“Honey, if I had seen something, it’ll take more than twenty dollars for me to tell ya.” She glanced a little to the left and right.
“Thank you,” I said as I pushed a ten-dollar bill towards her. She shook her head, turned, and walked away. I needed a different approach, those still wandering the streets of Colfax at 3 am would be too scared to help. I turned down a side street and worked my away in the wrong direction for half a hour.
Somewhere I found a darkened alley that I turned into and once out of sight of the street I jumped a wooden fence. No lights, no dogs, or any sound noting my sudden trespass. I waited there watching the alley for a count of a thousand to catch anyone following. No one appeared, so I hopped back over the fence and carefully worked my way home.
Sunday, Oct 22nd, 2017 1:07 pm
The Drunken Moose opens at noon on Sunday’s. I stopped and asked eight people along my way to the bar for information. No one had any concrete info about the kidnappings. Everything from a moving truck, black van, SUV, and aliens were taking people.
For a moment as I entered the bar, I was blind. The contrast of the bright sun to the dimly lit bar took a moment for my eyes to adjust. Walking on autopilot, I went straight towards a seat at the bar. My eyes adjusted about the same time as I got to a seat.
“Hey, Daxx, there’s some gal looking for ya,” Charlie called out from down the bar. He tilted his head towards a booth in the back of the bar. Without further comment, he then looked back down towards the bar where he was scrubbing with a thick washcloth. My eyes were still adjusting so I couldn’t see who was in the back corner, but I started walking in that direction.
Halfway across the bar I almost stopped. Even though she was wearing a light grey hoodie, the hood was down, revealing her light brown hair. She was looking away from me at her phone. Her lightly tanned skin which was made darker by the dim lightning in the bar. She didn’t look up at me as I approached, so I introduced myself.
“My name is Daxx, mind if I sit?” I asked once I was ten feet away from her. She took a sip of the glass of wine on the table next to her then looked up at me.
“Have a seat please,” her voice reminded me of a phone sex operator. Heavy and velvety, I wasn’t expecting that from her. “My name is Michelle,” Michelle waved a hand towards the empty side of the table.
“Charlie said you asked about me?” I finally spoke after a moment of silence. I was surprised my heart wasn’t racing. My mind caught up to the moment and worries that she was a collection agent filled my head. Typically, a collection agent didn’t go search for you at a bar. “Look, if you are after money I ain’t got none.” I quickly said, hoping it was money she wanted. Anything else I worry I wouldn’t be able to say no.
Michelle laughed, the type of laugh of pure joy wrapped in sex. If I were younger, my blood would have boiled, and I would have killed for her. Out of habit, I stood up straighter and instinctively looked around to make sure I could protect her.
“Oh no, I’m not looking for money. I have a problem, and a mutual friend said you helped her.” She flashed me a little smile, then as if turning an imaginary key with her hand closed her lips.
“this friend of yours, what did I do for her?” I asked, buying time for me to think and keep myself under control. If word was getting around about my abilities, attention is the last thing I wanted. The wrong people asking questions, and suddenly my second chance will be taken away. Worse, someone could hurt Karen to get back at me. A lifetime spent in prison or buried in cement pit didn’t sound like fun.
“Oh, you found her ex-husband’s new address and name so she could get child support payments.” She whispered, leaning in as if it was some secret. I thanked God I couldn’t smell; I’m sure her perfume would be intoxicating. To help myself focus I pointed a foot downwards and pushed. The pain and strain of my leg muscle helped me focus and keep my mind from wandering.
The ex-husband job was some loser who had a million-dollar home up in Estes Park. I tracked the bastard down because it wasn’t paying his $600 a month child support. The bastard liked certain higher end prostitutes and paid for them to travel from Denver to Estes where he was hiding out.
Relief must have showed on my face as she smiled that secretive smile and leaned back. “I take it you do not like to advertise.”
“Some people think I’m dead; I don’t want to change their mind,” I told her as I pulled out a notepad and a pen from an inner pocket. “Two hundred a day, minimum three days, if I have an expense I cannot recoup I’ll provide an itemized list at the end.” She looked a little shocked, so I continued to alleviate concerns about cost, “for expenses that are more than fifty dollars I’ll get your approval beforehand.” I finished, I wasn’t sure how much a private eye charged, but when I took the last job for her friend, I didn’t state an amount, and that’s about what she paid me. It wasn’t near what I made roughnecking on the rigs, but it didn’t require me filling out a W2 or having to answer questions to the government.
“Agreed, I can’t meet you here again though, and I can’t have you call my cell. My husband Sergei Tsepov is a good man, but a little protective of me.” Her voice lowered as she said her husband’s name. I almost missed it and was silent for a minute as the rat on the mouse wheel in my brain tripped and fell over himself. When the shock had passed, and my brain started working, I started to stand up.
“I can’t work for your husband; I think he would probably kill me even for talking to you,” I told her once I stood up. She reached over, put a hand on my arm, and gave me a look that would have broke my heart if it was still beating.
“Please, he has nothing to do with this. I would hire someone legitimately, but I do not want him to know about it.” She quickly said, and I glanced around the bar. No one was looking towards us, so I sat back down.
“Why not just tell him and have his guys do whatever is needed?” I asked, looking for a polite way out.
“Because he would kill my brother.” Her voice started to reach higher octaves; I could see tears welling in her eyes. She paused, closed her eyes, sighed and took a moment to compose herself. “My brother Takahiro and Sergei would kill each other on sight. I need to make sure he is safe and not in trouble.” Her voice cracked a little as she tried to finish. When she finished speaking she pulled out a tissue and dabbed at her eyes.
I mulled over what she said for a minute. What she said made sense, Sergei was the type of guy to bury problems. There is lots of places in Colorado where there is no one for miles. Working on oil rig crews, I’ve been to a few of those places. Twice in the ten years as a roughneck, I’ve seen black SUV’s in the distance drive through the prairie.
“I’m gonna up the rate then, three hundred a day,” I said as I crossed out the $200/day on the notepad and wrote $300/day, then flipped to a new page and wrote Takahiro at the top. “You don’t look Japanese, half-brother?”
“No, he just really liked Anime when he was younger. When he turned 18, he legally changed his name.” she shook her head a little as she pulled out a small purse and set it on the table. From the designer handbag, I could read Henri before she pulled out some pictures and quickly put the bag away. The pictures were of a nice, clean cut young man, small scar splitting his left eyebrow, pale skin, and the same light brown hair. I was too focused on the pictures to notice her pulling a checkbook out. She had it half filled out before I could say anything.
“No checks, sorry, I don’t have a bank account.” I started to say, but she kept on writing. Once she finished, she handed me a cashier check payable to cash for a local credit union.
“This will be accepted anywhere. It is payment for three days up front. I’ll give you a week’s worth when we meet next. Hopefully, you will find him quickly.” The resolve and command in her voice, prevent me from saying no. I accepted her check and mentally told myself I wouldn’t do any actual work until it cleared.
“For the meeting place, I need you to start jogging each morning. Is City Park close to where you live?”
“It’s a mile or two but ok, why jogging?”
“Good for your health, and if someone is tailing you, it will make it difficult. I’m hoping after a week of jogging; they will stop tailing you and wait for you to finish the jog.”
“Fine, City Park, what time next Sunday?”
“Five am Sunday morning; I’ll be near some...,”
“Five in the fucking morning!” she interrupted loudly, the bar was mostly empty, but I’m sure a few heads turned our way.
“Yes, five am. I’ll be near some trees on the southeast side. Once I see no one following, I’ll start jogging with you.” I tried not to smile as I said this and I’m sure it looked like a shit eating grin instead. Hopefully, the steps will protect my identity in this and make sure she was committed.
“Just find my brother quickly, make sure he is safe. I fear he is in trouble or dead.” She said as she stood up to leave. I nodded, shook her hand, and watched her glide towards the door.
Gods, if I had met Michelle in my twenties, I would have killed for her if she had asked. Thankfully I had met Elizabeth instead, who had not asked that of me. Whether or not a woman had asked, I had put a few people in the ground because of that Elizabeth. Even now, older and more cautious, I’m not sure if I could or would refuse a request like that from either lady.
Sunday, Oct 29th, 2017 4:30 am
Unknown to Michelle I had watched her go jogging each morning. I would arrive at the park at 3 am, find a nice place to hide. The first day it was a car I borrowed from a friend and parked it on the street. Second day, I broke into an empty house across the street. Following that, top of a storage shed near the park, a well concealing tree, and once I was a jogger that kept at a distance.
I was mostly right about her security detail. They followed her the first two days, the third day only one person, the fourth and fifth they just parked outside of the park and waited for her. This morning was like yesterdays, the detail parked at one end of the park and waited. I laughed and pondered if Sergei knew he was overpaying for security. Mentally I had to reassure myself that Michelle was my client, not Sergei.
Paranoia suddenly filled me, and I pulled out my notebook. Flipping to the page of notes I had taken on joggers I reviewed them to see if anything was different. I didn’t see anything off, but my notes were only from a handful of days. Putting my notepad back in a pocket, I then pulled out my camera. Using the zoom on it, I was able to locate Michelle.
I lowered myself from the tree and headed towards the jogging path she took circling the park. Once on it, I started a slow jog, only slightly faster than a brisk walk. When she caught up to me, I sped up a little bit, looking the image of a man trying to impress her.
“MLK memorial in 15 minutes.” I said and then started coughing, “I’m faking, keep going.” I said as I waved her off. I then slowed to a walk while still visibly coughing. As she kept heading forward to loop around, I turned and headed towards the memorial.
I arrived at the memorial first. Once there I made sure there wasn’t anyone around, it was thankfully clear, so I sat at the base of the statue using it to block the view between her keepers and me. Michelle arrived a few moments later.
“Don’t come near, act like your stretching,” I said, waiting at her to stop so she would still be in sight of her guards.
“Have you found out anything?” she immediately asked as she started stretching.
“Your check cleared,” I replied, I was going to say more, but another jogger was coming towards us. I acted like I was wheezing and tried to ignore the glare Michelle was giving me. The jogger went by ignoring the both of us.
“That is it? The check cashed?” Michelle asked in a tone that was almost too loud.
“No, the jogger prevented me from finishing. I laid some groundwork and quietly asked some questions about Takahiro,” I replied. Another jogger was coming towards us.
“Anything solid then?” she asked as soon as she thought the jogger was far enough away.
“Yeah, I’m gonna meet with some people in Sterling, Tuesday. There will be a 50$ expense for the trip,” I mentioned, though it will cost me a bit more. I figured if I could drive that would be the cost. Anything more is my own fault.
“Okay, what would they know?” she asked.
“You didn’t say he was in the growing business.” I tensed as I spoke, worried she would take it the wrong way. She took in a sharp breath but regained control before she spoke.
“I didn’t know what he did for money. He went to college for an Agriculture degree because he wanted to brew beer. I’m guessing the money,” She said with some difficulty.
“Meet me by the playground in 5-10 minutes.” I interrupted. We had been standing here for too long. I got up and started jogging to the west, away from the statues and path to the playground. I also hoped the few minutes alone will help Michelle keep control.
Briefly, I glanced back at the Martin Luther King Memorial and Michelle. I couldn’t see her face and feeling suddenly awkward in looking at a lady in her moment of weakness, so I turned my gaze away. The brief glance at MLK made me feel like I was wasting a gift; if anyone should have been given a second chance King would be at the top of my list at least. Shaking my head at God’s poor choice by, I started jogging towards the tennis courts. I swung a wide circle around the playground. When I got close from the north side, I found a nice place I could sit out of sight from most people.
“Look, my brother was always the good kid, straight A’s...” Michelle started talking as soon as I was within earshot. She used the playground equipment to do stretches and some exercises.
“I’m not one to judge, just need to know the general group of people he hung around.” I quickly said. I don’t think she was trying to lie to me, we all have our blind spots when it comes to people. A long quiet moment passed, so long I started counting. When I got to 100 I spoke, “Look, I’m not,”
“He graduated high school... “she started to speak, then a moment of silence, and a sniff. “About the time I met Sergei..., we drifted apart...he went to college... I really didn’t know.... He is missing...because my mom said, she hasn’t heard from him...in over a week.” She broke down into sobbing.
With great difficulty I kept myself from running over, wrapping my arms around, and telling her it would be ok as she cried. I forced myself to look away, staring at the ground, glancing around for other joggers. Anything to keep myself from watching a beautiful thing shatter. I knew I had to ask the question that would be the hammer to the glass figurine.
“Have,” I stopped as I heard another small sob come from her direction. “Have you,” another sob interrupted me. Considering what answers, she could give to the question I was about to ask; I decided not to ask it. Confident she has already considered if Sergei was involved, I moved on to a different topic. “From what I found out, Takahiro knew how to grow some good stuff. I’ll find out more after my meet.”
“Okay,” her voice sounded stronger and more in control now. “Same time next week?” and I looked at her, she looked worse for wear. Lines of tears streaked down her face, a little bubble of snot forming in her left nostril. It made her more human, and even more damn beautiful.
“Yes,” said as I looked towards the northeast. “Same time but let’s meet in the northeast corner of the golf course.” I hoped changing the location would improve my odds of not being discovered.
As soon as she nodded and I started jogging away from her. I went north to pass between the zoo and the museum. The animals were starting to wake, and it gave me something to focus on briefly. Once I was out of the park, I headed north on Colorado. I didn’t think anyone was following, but I needed to think anyways.
By omission I had lied to Michelle, I had found out who Takihiro was working with, Illvest a group of investors who dabbled in illegal activities reportedly was paying him. While Illvest doesn’t generally clash with Sergei, the project was rumored to be drug manufacture. Sergei looked down upon anyone making large quantities of drugs within the Denver area.
I had too many unanswered questions; Is Takahiro alive? Does Sergei have anything to do with Illvest? Which brought another question to mind; If he did do I tell her?
I know how heartbreaking it was to have someone you care about turn into something or someone you hate, dare I inflict such pain on Michelle?
After taking the scenic route after meeting with Michelle, I decided I would just focus on finding Takahiro. Once I get him in touch with Michelle, the rest is out of my hands. That decision left me in good spirits all day Sunday and through Monday morning.
Monday, Oct 30th, 2017 8:05 am
Monday started off with a list of things to get done. Rumor was, Takahiro was working out of a warehouse in Arvada. My source, a stripper down at PT’s gave me a business card for “Fiscal Infinity LLC.” Last night when I was reviewing my notes, I caught that the Fax number on the business card matched the fax number I had found on a page mentioning Takahiro. I had to restrain myself from calling the numbers on the card in the middle of the night.
Patiently I waited all night until what I hoped would be right around when the business opened then called. The first number went straight to voicemail, no option for company directory or for someone to answer. I left a message saying I was in possession of some cheap grow lights and I heard they might be interested. Then using a different cellphone, I called the fax light. It didn’t go to a fax machine; it also went to a voicemail. I hung up without leaving a message that time.
The public library didn’t open till 10 am, I headed out figuring I could ask some questions from the people waiting for it to open. For the homeless, the public library gave them a place to get online, check in with family, and look for jobs.
Always paranoid I went to a back window that opened into the alley. There are some thorny bushes partially blocking the view and preventing anyone from getting in. After poking my head and making sure the coast was clear, I opened it, pushed myself out. I was able to squirm my way through the window and carefully down the wall until the weight of my body pulled my legs out.
MEOW! A cat screamed as I landed on some trash lying on the ground. A white cat with long hair jumped and ran down the alley. Closed the window, forced my way through the thorny bush, I then moved quickly to the other side of the alley. With a jump, I was able to get my arms and shoulders over a wooden fence. Seeing no one paying attention on the other side I pulled myself over the wall. I ran across the yard, thankful they didn’t own a dog.
After carefully opening and closing the gate to the yard I slowly and calmly walked out to the sidewalk. Trying to look nonchalant I walked northwards away from Colfax all the way to Leyden street. From Leyden, I turned south back towards Colfax enjoying what will be a warm fall day.
Crossing at 17th avenue was difficult as people were still driving to work, dropping kids off at school, and other mundane tasks. Rather than heading to a crosswalk, I ran across the westbound lane into the green median dividing it. As I was waiting for traffic on the eastbound lanes to open up, a youth in his early twenties waved at me.
“Daxx!, Daxx!” the youth yelled as he recognized me. I hesitated and then started walking west down the median away from him. The hesitation is what must have got me. If I had ignored him, there would have been a possibility he had the wrong person. Me stopping must have confirmed who I was, as he ran through an opening in traffic. Once he was on the median he jogged up to catch me.
“Daxx!” he wheezed, “Joe!” he coughed then took a couple of deep breaths. “Kidnapped.” He spat out the words before he had to quickly suck in a breath. I stopped and turned and waited for him to catch his breath. “Daxx, Joe is missing. We think he has been kidnapped.” He finally said.
“Joe was kidnapped?” I asked, but the rush of cars behind us drowned me out. I beckoned down the street some, and we crossed to get away from the noise. This gave me time to process and plan. “Tell me what you know.”
“We were chilling, man, near the payphone. Not more than two hours ago. Joe talking about how it seemed more of the calls were for you than him. A black van pulled up, and two guys jumped out. They started towards me, but Joe stepped in the way.” The kid paused to cough a little and wipe his eyes. “The guys tried to move around Joe but he got in their faces, and I started running away. When I looked back, they were dragging Joe into the van. He was yelling at me, ‘Tell Daxx the devil is looking for him!’”
I nodded my head as I took in the story. That was the type of statement Joe would tell me. “Where did they take him, kid?” I asked though I knew the answer.
“I, I don’t know. A few days ago, the same color van took the lumberjack out in the RiNo area.” Renewed tears sprang from the kid’s eyes. From the dirty smudges, it was obvious he had been crying earlier. I revised my guess on his age, probably more 16 to 20. “Are they gonna take me, too?”
“Nah, kid. You’ll be fine.” I said as I wrestled a twenty out of my wallet. “Here, stay in populated areas and if you have to, try to spring for a room. Someplace safe for the next few days. I’ll figure out what’s going on.” I pushed the twenty towards him. The kid quickly turned away, stuffed the twenty in a pocket. I reached out and grabbed his shoulder before he could run off. “A few questions first though.”
We chatted for another ten or fifteen minutes as I filled in details. On Monday’s, Joe and a few other homeless people would meet at a twenty-four-hour diner for breakfast. The kid was new to the area, so Joe had invited him. They had told him about places to avoid and warned him about other missing homeless people.
The kid ran out of answers before I ran out of questions. I pointed him towards downtown and let him run off. As he ran, I marveled at how clean he looked and figured he probably hadn’t been on the streets for very long. I mulled over the info as I walked towards a 7-Eleven to pick up some prepaid cards.
Colfax was a street full of opposites. Not more than fifty feet from each other, you have new million-dollar luxury homes and run-down places full of squatters. Parked in front of the 7-Eleven there was a white Escalade with gold rims right next to a homeless guy holding a sign begging for change. I gave the guy a five as I walked in and headed towards the phone card section. I snagged a variety of cards, the type that can be used on payphones, and went to pay. Some tall white guys in suits were talking to the clerk.
I cleared my throat after standing there for a minute. Everyone looked at me for a moment then the suits stepped aside. Stepping forward I bought the calling cards and walked out. I stuffed them into a pocket and headed down Colfax. So little time if I wanted to get Joe back. I headed straight back to my place to get some notes. Mental statistics about kidnappings running through my head, pushing me to get there quickly.
Michelle’s brother can wait, I needed to find out who’s been kidnapping the homeless. Then I’m going to stop them.