Here’s the thing…
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there’s a new installment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
There was blood spatter along one wall, and more underneath a chair just out from the wall. On the other side of the room was a table with some rather gruesome instruments on it.
I immediately felt sorry for the archaeologist. He must have endured serious pain before dying. It would be interesting to see a copy of the Medical Examiners report. The room had another overlying aroma other than the mustiness.
What did death smell like?
“Do you think this is where Alex and his cronies hang out?”
“Well, I can tell you for sure it’s not Vince’s lair. He has a house back at Patterson’s Reach. Besides, this mall is Benderby’s territory. It’s his security people who look after this place.”
Then that meant Alex or one of the Benderby’s was responsible for the murder of the archaeologist. Clearly, they were trying to get information out of him, not kill him.
“You think we should tell the cops?”
“You’re asking a Cossatino that question. I thought you knew better.”
“I happen to be in good with the Sheriff. It might make a difference.”
“No, I can assure you it won’t. Too much water under that bridge I’m afraid.”
Perhaps I was hoping she was not like the rest. Of course, if I actually stopped for a minute to think about it, it was probably a lot wiser not to say anything, simply because of the questions it would raise, and the grief the Benderby’s, and particularly Alex, would rain down on me.
We had a piece of evidence we couldn’t do anything with.
For now. That might change in the future.
There were also several filing cabinets and a cupboard in the room, but there was nothing of interest in any of them. It was simply a torture chamber. I had to hope I’d never finish up in here.
“Let’s get out here,” Nadia said, “It’s giving me the creeps.”
I’d felt a shudder or two go down my spine too. If it belonged to the Benderby’s and Alex in particular, he had already passed the point of no return. Alex was a bastard, but I didn’t think he could stoop to this sort of behavior. Vince? Maybe. Like the other members of the Cossatino family, excluding Nadia, he was as psychopathic as the rest.
It just goes to show you couldn’t judge a book by its cover. Alex’s boyish good looks hid something far more sinister underneath.
Just as we stepped out of the room and Nadia pulled the door shut, relocking it, we heard a sound coming from downstairs. The acoustics in the passage and stairwells was quite good, enough, at least, to alert us that someone else was in the building nearby.
“Someone is coming?” Nadia muttered.
“Here?” It was obvious where they were coming to, it was just the surprise anyone else would be around at this hour of the morning.
She glared at me. “Where else would they be going, shopping?”
We quickly moved towards the next room, the door open, and stepped inside, taking a quick look around. There was another room running off it, and we went in there and closed the door. It had a manual lock, not using a key, and she put it in place.
A quick look around the room showed it to be a bathroom and didn’t exactly have the best of aromas. Perhaps stagnant water.
We stood side by side near the door. We could hear footsteps coming up the stairs, it sounded like two people, and then voices, slightly muffled.
“What did you say we’re here for?”
A male voice I hadn’t heard before.
Alex. I’d know that voice anywhere.
A few seconds later I heard him speak again, “Who the hell left these maps out? Who’s been here? They know the rules.”
“No one. I’m sure of it.” The other voice had a tremor in it.
Alex probably left them out himself, but he was not one to take the blame for anything.
“Someone’s been here. The footprints on the floor. They look fresh.”
We could then hear him coming up the passage. Had we left footprints into the other room and possibly this one? I was almost at the stage of holding my breath.
He went to the end, that last room that had been used as a torture chamber.
“You got the key to this room?”
“No. You know that’s not where we’re allowed to go. Your father’s orders remember.”
“What about this room?”
He was standing in the doorway, and I could see the torchlight from under the door.
“There’s nothing here, no one here. No one had been here, Alex. No one knows about this place. You said so yourself.”
“Except Vince. Mall cops dragged him up here one and beat him up. That was a good day.”
Once more he flashed the light around the room, and along the floor, and it seemed our footprints weren’t showing a path to this door. If he was to come in and start pounding on it, I’d have a heart attack.
“Perhaps no one has been here then, except Ed. We’ll talk to him later.”
The light disappeared, and the footsteps receded.
There were no more voices for a few minutes, then Alex said, “Got it. Now let’s get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.”
The footsteps and voices receded quickly as they retraced their steps, leaving us, once again, in silence.
Except I swear I could hear my heart beating very rapidly.
“Wow,” She said. “That was exciting.”
“What? We nearly got caught.”
“No matter. I could have used my charms on him.”
She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. “Instead, I have you.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2021