If That’s What It Takes
“Are you sure this is the alleyway?” I stared down the dreary lane, hoping Lee would say no.
The whole place reeked of urine and discarded syringes. With a sense of foreboding, I pulled my badge from my pocket and hung it around my neck by the lanyard. My eyes flicked up and down the close walls of the alley, looking for cameras. I spotted a bracket that may have once held a camera. How handy.
A heavy bulletproof vest hung from my arm. Begrudgingly, I pulled it on. They were uncomfortable and I preferred not to wear one unless absolutely necessary. Lee already had his on. They were definitely better suited to male bodies.
“This is the one she said,” he replied, and slung his badge over his head. Lee didn’t seem in any hurry to venture in.
“This is exactly how I imagined my Saturday morning would be,” I said with a wry grin.
“Yep, me too. Life is good.”
“Where’s the nearest camera?” I asked.
“The bank, beside the alleyway. They have two cameras located on an outside wall, both covering the street.”
“If we don’t find anything we’ll go visit the bank. We might get lucky with their footage.”
Lee nodded. I was tempted to abandon the alley in favor of the bank right off.
I pulled the hair tie from my ponytail, scraped my hair back off my face and retied it higher and tighter. I felt a prickling sensation in the pit of my stomach. Adrenaline surged.
“Ready to rock?”
“Right with you, Ellie.”
I stepped into the deep shade of the brick buildings that surrounded the alley, took a breath of cool air and decided it might be a pleasant place to spend an hour. A blast of strong urine odor hit the back of my throat and I changed my mind.
Lee flipped out his notebook and scanned a few pages. “The girl, Rose Van den Berg, said she looked back and saw a blue door with chipped peeling paint.”
The door nearest me was a rusty red so I continued walking. Lee caught up in two strides and fell into step. The next door was a faded green showing patches of pink undercoat. We glanced at each other and moved on, noting two large dumpsters against the opposite wall just past the green door. At the end of the shadow-shrouded alley were two more dumpsters. I took an unfortunately large breath – stale, foul air caught in my throat, making me choke. I coughed into my elbow, trying to limit the noise and not hack up a lung.
I looked left: a blank brick wall rose up blocking out the sky. No windows or doors broke the monotonous wall. I kicked at discarded fast-food wrappers tangling around my boots.
“There it is.” Lee said. His notebook was gone, in its place a Glock 22.
We were about ten feet from the door. Above our heads were small frosted louver windows. I counted three windows. The door appeared to have an opaque glass panel at the top, but on closer inspection, it was dirt that obscured the glass. I removed my gun from my hip holster: it was time to see if this was the place the girl remembered. The place she said she was held captive and the last place she saw her older sister.
We approached the door with caution. If the shit hit the fan there was no cover. We’d be in the open until we reached the dumpsters.
Lee knocked. We both stood to the hinge side of the door, against the grimy brick.
Inside, someone shouted. The words were unintelligible. Maybe it wasn’t English.
Lee knocked again.
Another voice called out.
Again, I couldn’t understand the words.
I shook my head at Lee.
He reached over and knocked again, this time he followed up with a deep bellow, “FBI. Open the door.”
Noise erupted. Yelling. Shuffling. Panic.
Copyright Cat Connor 2009-2010