Detective Ramos Archives #2 – Part 15

Jose yanked the door open and shoved Elaine forward. He spoke low in her ear “Don’t try anything.” Elaine couldn’t believe her luck. She knew that even if she were to hand over the flash drive, Nick wouldn’t let her go alive. She needed to find a way out of this but she didn’t even know who to trust anymore. Like Mack said, the guy Jose & she had met with a few days before, Nick had the city in the palm of his hand so how could she stop him once and for all?

Elaine and Jose walked down the long hall to the door of the main hotel hallway. Jose swiftly opened the door allowing Elaine to walk through first. Elaine hesitated, wanting to stall, when she saw Matt jogging toward her.

“Elaine! Where have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” Matt paused and looked to Jose who was coming through the door behind Elaine. His eyebrows rose and he hesitated a few feet from Elaine. Jose paused, caught off guard by Matt, so Elaine decided that was her cue. She kicked back, catching Jose in the shin; he yelped out in pain and bent over.

Elaine bolted grabbing Matt by the arm and dragging him behind her. “Come on, run! We have to get out of here!” Matt obeyed and took off, his eyes wide and mouth in a firm line.

“Elaine stop!” Jose’s footsteps were close behind. They had to get out of here quickly. Elaine spotted the back door she took to leave the Gala; she reached for Matt’s hand and tugged him to the door. Together they yanked it open and slide inside.

The Gala was still going in full swing, flushed faced people swished around them as they mingled and swayed to the music. Elaine held tight to Matt’s hand as they wove their way through the crowd to the front door.

As they sprinted out the door the doorman called “Have a great night! Thank you for coming!”

Elaine threw a wave back and continued on. “We need to get to your uncle’s newsstand. We can hide there.” Matt nodded and in a burst of speed, raced across the street easily. He raised his hands in the air waving down his uncle. With the dress and heels Elaine’s progress was much slower and she was almost hit by two cars before she finally hobbled to a stop in front of Sal’s newsstand. Sal was waving to her and pointed to an area beneath the counter area where his cash register stood. Matt was already crouched below looking uncomfortable with this knees pressed tightly against his body.

Elaine heard shouting behind her. She glanced back to see Jose and a couple of Nick’s bodyguards leaving the hotel. She dove under the counter and huddled up next to Matt. Sal pulled a curtain in front of them so they were blocked from view. Matt closed his eyes breathing deeply and placing his chin on his knees. Elaine tried to do the same in the tight space.

“Sir! Have you seen a woman with a young man come this way?”

“They went down the alley.”

“Guys! They went this way!” Elaine heard pounding feet run past and echo down the alley. When all was clear Sal pushed aside the curtain.

“Thanks Sal.” Elaine pushed herself up and stretched, Matt immediately behind her. “That’s the second time you’ve saved me Sal. How can I repay you?” Elaine leaned over and gave Sal a warm hug.

“Did you get what you were looking for?”

“That and more Sal; much more.”

“Why were you with that guy in that room if you didn’t want to be around him?” Matt rubbed his hands in the cold air.

“Well, I wasn’t sure if I could trust him but he proved to me I can’t. Thank you so much Matt for all of your help. If you hadn’t come down the hall when you did I wouldn’t have been able to get away.” Elaine hugged Matt tightly. He looked down at Elaine.

“But why is he trying to get you?”

Elaine pulled away. “I…I can’t tell you guys.” She looked sadly at Sal. “I appreciate all your help but if I told you then you would be in danger too and this is something that I have to deal with on my own.”

Sal reached out a wrinkled hand and touched her cheek. “Well you let us know if you need anything we are always here if you need anything.”

Elaine nodded her thank you and waved as she slowly made her way back to her hotel. She needed to find that flash drive, tonight.

To Be Continued…

Detective Ramos Archives #2 – Part 14

Jose refused to look at Elaine. She glared at him waiting for an answer. He had betrayed her and he couldn’t even give her the courtesy of looking at her. She should have trusted her head and not her gut.

“Ms. Ramos please have a seat I don’t have all day.” Nick gestured again to the arm chair facing him. Elaine hesitated unsure of where to go. She would have to get past Jose to exit the way they came and Nick to get out the window. Elaine held her head high as she walked slowly to the arm chair and threw herself down. She sat perched at the edge ready to flee when she got the chance.

“Thank you.” Nick sat back placing his elbows on the arm rests and touching the tips of his fingers together as he contemplated Elaine. She held his gaze not wanting him to see her fear.

“Elaine, you have caused me a lot of problems. I am having a hard time trying to figure out what to do with you. For one you have a lot of information on me and I can’t have you around messing things up.”

“So why don’t you just get rid of me?”

Nick chuckled. “Oh that would be easy except that everyone knows about you and me and if you go missing…well…I will be the number one suspect. Now normally that wouldn’t be a big deal to me except I need you.”

Elaine’s eyes widened. “Me? What do you need me for?”

Nick’s smile widened. “You sure do an excellent job playing the innocent victim don’t you?”

Elaine furrowed her brow confused. Nick’s smile faltered; his cool demeanor vanishing, his voice low and dangerous.

“Where is it?”

“Where is what?”

“Don’t play coy with me you know what I’m talking about. Just give it to me and nothing will happen to you.”

Elaine shook her head, shrugging her shoulders. “Nick I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Nick jerked up and slammed his fist on the desk making Elaine jump.

“The flash drive! Where is it? He gave it to you I know he did!”

Elaine put her hands up defensively. “Who gave it to me? What are you talking about?”

Jose’s calm voice traveled across the room. “Maybe she really doesn’t know Nick.” Nick flashed his eyes toward Jose. “Look Nick I was there. She trusted me. She didn’t mention anything about this flash drive.” Elaine blushed at Jose’s words. Nick thought aloud.

“So, you don’t know about the flash drive. But I’m sure that he gave it to you.”

“Who?”

Nick broke from his thoughts seeming to notice Elaine for the first time. “Mr. Durnstram of course.” Elaine’s mouth fell open. “Oh my, maybe you really don’t know. I guess he did keep it a secret then. Oh he is very clever.”

“Are you sure that he gave it to her?”

Nick’s eyes never moved from Elaine’s face as he answered Jose. “I’m positive. He told Tony he gave it to her.”

Elaine sat back and closed her eyes. She gently touched her temples willing the oncoming headache to go away. Suddenly a thought occurred to her. She had forgotten about the manila envelope that Mr. Durnstram’s lawyer gave her at the station, the one that contained the check inside. She hadn’t searched the rest of the envelope. She had assumed it was only the check but could there have been more? Her eyes popped open to Nick’s cold eyes carefully watching her.

“Ah, you’ve figured out where it could be haven’t you?” Nick smiled as Elaine tightened her lips. “Jose! Take Ms. Ramos back to her apartment and help her look for the flash drive, then bring her along with the flash drive back to me.”

“Yes sir.” Jose reached over and grabbed Elaine forcefully by the arm. “Come on let’s go.”

Elaine’s heart fluttered. She couldn’t let Nick get that flash drive.

To Be Continued…

Detective Ramos Archives #2 – Part 13

“Elaine, how did you get in here?” Elaine squeezed her eyes closed willing the voice to just disappear. She felt a warm hand touch her bare shoulder sending a tingly sensation down her back. She knew she had to face him so she slowly turned to see Jose, dressed sharply in a black suit and maroon tie, staring at her expectantly.

“Oh…erm…hey there.”

Jose’s eyes widened. “Hey there?” His eyes swept over her dress a hint of approval shadowed his face. “Elaine, where have you been? I’ve been searching for you all over the city for the past 2 days! I didn’t know if you were taken, hurt or even…alive.” Elaine felt a twinge of guilt at the stricken look on his face. Then she remembered why she had fled to begin with.

“Well I had to leave. You…ummm…I…I heard that Nick knew of the transport and had someone waiting to get me as soon as I walked outside with you.” The lie burned in her mouth like a hot coal. She didn’t know why she lied; she just couldn’t bring herself to say it was because she didn’t trust him. How would she explain how she knew his secret? She couldn’t just tell him she peeked in his phone. At least that was the reason she told herself and that it didn’t have to do with the disappointed look on his face.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, I just didn’t know how without getting caught. I left in the middle of the night and just have been laying low.”

Jose looked directly in her eyes. Elaine immediately knew that he thought she was lying. She blushed and looked down unable to hold his gaze. Jose opened his mouth to respond when they heard a door open. He glanced over his shoulder then grabbed her arm pulling her into the room she had just been about to enter.

“Come on, you’re not supposed to be back here.” He pulled her into a large cozy office with a solid desk and cushiony chair in the center of the room. A large window faced them and wooden cabinets lined the wall to their right. To their left was another door. Jose guided her to the door and opened it, nudging her inside.

“It’s the bathroom. Close and lock the door and don’t turn on the light. Don’t open the door unless you hear 3 knocks. That will be me.” Jose turned and strode to the other side of the office, opening a cabinet door and reaching inside for something. Elaine couldn’t see what it was because at that moment the office door began to open. She quietly shut the bathroom door and locked it as instructed. She didn’t know why she trusted Jose at this moment. He could be setting her up. Her head told her everything she had found so far pointed to his betrayal, but her gut told her there had to be an explanation. Her gut was rarely wrong. She had to trust him.

Elaine could hear muffled voices from the other side of the door. She tried in vain to hear the conversation but it was difficult to hear over the sound of her rapid breathing. It felt like hours before she heard the 3 raps on the door. She let out a breath and unlocked the door, opening it slowly.

Jose stood across the room his arms crossed, his expression unreadable. Elaine tentatively walked out of the bathroom.

“Jose, is everything ok?”

“Welcome Elaine. It’s so nice of you to finally join us.” Elaine jumped. Sitting comfortably at the desk was Nick an evil grin plastered across his face. He gestured to an arm chair facing him. “Come join me and let’s have a talk. Just like old times.”

Her gut was wrong. Jose had betrayed her.

To Be Continued…

Thoughts of a Young Child

Blank faces stare
we pass without care
going on about the day
as they wait to play.
Plastic pieces come alive
when children go outside.
Fury plush move about
free to roam without people around.

What do they do? What do they say?
When I’m out of my room today?
Do they have tea and cookies
when I go to the movies?
Do they toss around a ball
when I go with you to the mall?
Do they talk and laugh
while eating my candy stash?
Do they miss me at all
looking for me in the hall?
Or waiting at the window
or laying on my pillow?

I try to catch them Mami
but those toys are so tricky.
But one day I’ll catch them you’ll see
and they won’t have to be afraid of me
because then I’ll set them free.

Detective Ramos Archives #2 – Part 12

Elaine froze in terror at the sight of Nick. She often imagined what she would do if she were to see Nick again. She had always pictured herself cool, calm and collected; but to see Nick’s cold eyes caused fear to well up on the inside of her and stop her cold in her tracks. Matt, sensing her hesitation, whispered in her ear “Is everything ok?”

Elaine could only shake her head but her eyes never moved from Nick’s face. One of Nick’s bodyguards approached him, leaning forward to whisper something in his ear. The bored, annoyed look on his face broke Elaine out of her revere. He hadn’t noticed her as she had feared but they needed to move quickly before he did. She tugged on Matt’s arm.

“Come on, we need to move to the back of the room and fast.” They wove their way through the crowded dining room, the tinkling of glasses and laughter following them. When Elaine felt they were in the darkest most obscure corner of the room she surveyed the room again noting Nick on the other side nearest the double door entrance.

“Ok Matt, you can go around and mingle if you want but don’t mention my name. Just say you’re here with your friend and if they press for a name just make one up.”

“Ok, you can be Mary. That was my ex-girlfriend’s name.” Elaine looked at Matt incredulously. He responded with a goofy grin. “I think I’ll hit the buffet table first. I’m starving.” Matt wandered off to the buffet table while Elaine searched the area for a back way out. She noticed a service entrance. With one last quick glance around the ballroom she ducked through it.

The room bustled with activity. Servers rushed about with trays of food and drinks balanced on silver trays. Elaine carefully maneuvered through the sea of workers and exited out into the hallway. She paused unsure of where to go. She had to find the offices but she doubted there would be a sign pointing her in the right direction. She heard someone talking behind the door she had just exited. She hid behind a tall potted plant before the door swung open and a tall man that Elaine recognized as one of Nick’s body guards, stepped into the empty hallway. His radio buzzed to life. “Tony, what’s your ETA.”

Tony picked up the radio. “I’m in the back hallway. I’m headed to the office to get what the boss requested.”

”Ok let me know when you get back, I need to use the bathroom.”

Tony grunted in irritation and moved swiftly down the hall. Elaine crept behind him, making sure to stay in the shadows. After a few twist and turns Tony had travelled to the back of the hotel and walked up to a secure door that was labelled “Employees Only”. He produced a keycard, swiped it and entered. Elaine shot out and caught the door with her the toe of her gold pump. She gently pushed the door open and peeked through. A short hallway lay in front of her with different doors lining it. She cautiously entered peeking through the small windows of each door she passed. She heard a voice coming from around the corner. She searched for an unlocked door and slid in the first one she found. The room was dark with a couple of desks on either side of the room and a row of cabinets at the back. She leaned against the wall waiting for the voice to pass.

“Yea boss, I found the file you need. Did you want me to bring it? Ok I’m walking out the office now, I’ll meet you at the side entrance.” Elaine heard heavy footsteps clunk down the hall and the door opened and closed with a thud. Elaine opened the door and retraced the path she heard Tony walk. She turned the corner and found a solitary door at the far end of the hall. She rushed toward it placing her hand on the cold metal handle.

“Elaine! What are you doing here?”

Elaine’s blood iced over. That was the last voice she expected and wanted to hear.

To Be Continued…

Detective Ramos Archives #2 – Part 11

Elaine looked over her reflection in the mirror. Her simple sparkly gold gown cascaded gently down her back. She could hardly recognize her dark lined eyes, shadowed eyelids and red lips. She hadn’t dressed up like this in a long time. She gently touched her glossy coifed hair and made one last glance over before grabbing her long faux fur coat that she had snagged on sale at a department store down the street. She needed to blend in as much as possible. She maneuvered through the busy hotel lobby and down the street as the sun dipped lower in the sky. She scanned the area before ducking behind a magazine stand. She shivered as she waited patiently, watching puffs of warm air escaping her lips.

Just as she began to worry he wouldn’t make it Sal, the elderly gentleman who she had met the day before and who owned the magazine stand, shuffled around the corner. Elaine’s nerves jumped as she noticed the impassive look on his face.

“Were you able to get it Sal? Please say you did.” He looked at her solemnly before his wrinkled face broke into a wide grin.

“You doubt me kid?” he wriggled his bushy grey eyebrows at her. Elaine smirked and wagged her finger at him.

“I am too nervous to play games with you Sal.” Sal chuckled and placed two tickets in her gloved hand. Elaine looked at him quizzically. “Two tickets? I only need one.”

“They come as pairs. If I only got you one you would look suspicious.” Sal was better at this than she had suspected. Elaine appreciated his logic but saw another gaping hole in her perfected plan. She looked at him helplessly. He put his finger in the air as if expecting her question. “Don’t worry I got you a date.”

“Sal!”

“He’s my nephew. Don’t worry I just told him your boyfriend bailed on you and you needed a backup date. He won’t try anything.” Elaine rolled her eyes. That wasn’t exactly her concern. She didn’t have time to question Sal more as a young man a few feet taller than her poked his head around the corner.

“Hello there. I’m Matt. Don’t worry I will be on my best behavior I know I’m just a stand in.” Matt’s youthful face broke into a broad smile similar to his uncles. His bright eyes made it difficult for Elaine to deny him of this obviously exciting experience.

“Thanks kid but how old are you? You look like you just turned 18.”

Matt frowned. “I just turned 21 to be exact.” Elaine threw her hands up.

“Sal this isn’t going to work. How am I going to look with an 18 year old?” Matt grunted in dissent before Sal grabbed her elbow and led her away patting her hand soothing her.

“Trust me. This will work. Matt is very smart and mature for his age. He will know exactly what to do.”

“I hope you’re right.” Elaine glanced back at Matt doubtfully.

With a little bit of Sal magic, he was able to take Matt’s baby face and add a bit of stubble to make him appear a few years older. Elaine begrudgingly admitted that Matt was acceptable and a jittery Elaine and an elated Matt walked confidently down the sidewalk to the entrance of the Scorpion hotel.

As they waited to give the doorman their tickets Elaine leaned over and hissed into Matt’s ear. “Remember what we talked about. Don’t ask questions; say everything that I told you to say; nothing more got it?”

“Geez, I got it for the hundredth time.” He grumbled back before plastering a smile as he walked up to the doorman, producing the tickets to him. The doorman glanced over the tickets and gave them back before opening the door with a flourish. As they entered they both gasped. A grand ballroom opened in front of them with round tables everywhere filled with bedazzled guests in their richest finery. Plumes of flowers and peacock feathers filled the vases in the center of the tables and hundreds of candles floated in votives around the room. The lights were dimmed to allow for a more delicate ambiance but the room still sparkled lavishly. The amazing décor threw Elaine off for a moment before she gathered herself.

She quickly got her bearings and steered Matt toward the back of the room. As she glanced around she immediately noticed the worst person imaginable that she could come across. What was he doing here? Shouldn’t he be in hiding?

Nick Palatnokiv turned his head and stared directly at Elaine.

To Be Continued…

Hungry Wolves

Fog curls through the night
Fingers wrapping around the air tight
Lonely wolves howl low
Sniffing at the air desperately now
Thirsting for innocence lost
Panting greedily for life’s best cost
No conscious; no thought
Hoping only not to get caught
Hungrily they prowl the night sky
Listening for an innocent cry
The feeble ones are easy to spy
And to wrap up away from prying eyes
Their pain and hurt don’t matter
Not when money talks making wallets fatter