An Important Notice to Readers...
Although this fiction blog is illustrated with photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and content of the storyline is intended for an adult audience. Please be advised.
|Beckett answers the door for a morning visitor|
The little sliver of sunlight from under the shade wasn't quite enough to wake her from that almost in-almost out, drowsy state of consciousness. Instead, she cuddled in closer, tucking herself into the warmth of her husband's body, and allowing a slide back into foggy slumber. Had anyone else been around, they might have noticed the Cheshire grin on her face, the proverbial kitty who swallowed the poor unsuspecting canary. But as it was just the two of them, her reaction to the activities of the night before remained a treasured secret, and with a sigh, she buried her face in his chest and let herself doze.
It was the sound of a car's engine that shook Beckett instantly from his sleep, followed by a sharp series of raps at the wooden door. Before Maureen could fully comprehend the sequence of events, Beckett put a hand over her mouth, and rolling her in the bed's top sheet, pushed her to the floor, with pantomimed instructions that she should slide under the massive frame. If the bizarre nature of this so-called honeymoon had taught her anything, it was that her husband's lead needed to be followed. Without a sound, she tightened the sheet around her bare form, and took her spot as ordered.
From that position, she heard him fumble with the bedding, then watched him pad on bare feet to the door at the front of the room. Without the slightest hesitation, he opened the door with one hand, the Glock G22 tucked into the back of his waistband, only to find an agitated Alberto standing on the stoop of the building.
Seeing Beckett clad only in his boxers, the man looked at his feet, stammering out the words. "I apologize, Colonel, for the early...interruption. But we've had news. Of the urgent kind."
Beckett waved the man in. "It's fine, my friend. What's up?"
The man hesitated, his eyes skirting the room for the woman he met the night before. "Your bride, Colonel? I am free to speak?"
"Go ahead, Al. There's little I can keep from her at this point." Calling across the room, he added, "You can come out, baby. It's just Alberto. The man you met yesterday."
Wearing only the thin sheet, Maureen's voice called from under the bed. "I'm perfectly fine here, Ted. What's your friend doing here so early in the morning?"
Beckett nodded, and the man continued. "Seems you've rattled a few dangerous cages, Colonel. Noise in the area says El Culebra has a price on your head. A rather substantial one. We need to move up your extraction before anyone is the wiser."
"Damn. So my cover here is shot?"
"It appears that way, Colonel. El Culebra's men have been showing your passport around. Your lady's too. I've been ordered to move you to a small air strip near Izamal. Mostly crop dusters and a few sea planes. We figured it would be the easiest way out of the country."
"How soon do we need to leave, my friend?"
"As soon as possible. I'm to transport you myself."
"And your sure El Culebra has possession of our passports? There's no mistake?"
"No, Sir. I've seen them myself. It is the safest plan of action. The sooner we leave, the better."
"Okay, Alberto. You're right. Just give us a minute to dress, and we'll be on our way. Sweetheart, you heard the man. You need to come out and get dress. We're leaving shortly."
From under the bed, Maureen opened her mouth to complain, but swallowed the words as a gun was fired, followed by a solid thump. Frantic, she pushed her way out from under the heavy box springs. There on the floor, not two feet from where she was hidden, lie the body of Alberto Arroya, an oozing bullet hole between his eyes, no doubt caused by the gun in her husband's hand. Her mouth went dry, and her tongue felt like a dry wad of cotton, as she watched a pool of blood seep across the tiled floor. "Is he...he dead?"
Beckett nodded. "I'm sorry you had to witness that, baby, but if it's any consolation, he drew first. I was just faster. Had no choice. He was planning to kill us both."
"But...but wasn't he supposed to be a friend of yours? Somebody you trusted?"
Her husband shrugged. "Yeah...well that friend bullshit doesn't hold so true in my line of work. El Culebra must have offered a great price for our heads. That's the way it works here, baby. Sold to the highest bidder. You need to get dressed pronto. I'm sure once Arroyo doesn't return with news and photos of our demise, someone else will come looking."
Maureen tried to keep her voice normal, but the sound that came out of her mouth sounded strangely three pitches too high. "I still don't understand...how did you know he was gonna kill us? It sounded to me like he was trying to be helpful."
"It was his lie about the passports. About El Culebra's men showing them around. That would be impossible, as I have our passports hidden in the car outside."
By the end of the afternoon, Fr. Kevin and Roxanne were no closer to solving the mystery of the strange key, then they had been earlier that morning. Visits to both of Dollyville's banks had proved fruitless, although they had determined that the key was, most likely, to some type of safety deposit box. Unfortunately, it was not a fit to any of the boxes here in town.
The bank manager at Paul Revere Savings and Loans had remarked that the key was for an older, vintage style of box, something from the 1940's was his guess. That pre-dated it to any of the banks in the local area, as the oldest one hadn't been built until 1963. He suggested they do a search online, focusing on banks built in the late 1930's, or early 40's. Now, over coffee and doughnuts, the two discussed their next move.
"Honestly, Kev...I think we made great progress here. At least we can rule out a large number of banks that were built more recently, and focus on the older ones. That's a start at least."
Wiping a dab of jelly doughnut from the corner of his mouth, Fr. Kevin shook his head. "That still doesn't verify exactly where the box is, Rox. There must be hundreds of old banks here in Massachusetts. This key could fit a box in anyone of them. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack."
"You're giving up way too easy. I still hold to the theory that the box is located somewhere close enough for the key holder to have access. Otherwise it doesn't make sense to store anything in it if you have no ability to retrieve it in a timely manner."
"I suppose that makes sense." He pulled a smart phone from his pocket, and with a few swipes across the screen, brought up a map of the state. "So where do we look next?"
Roxanne leaned over, and studied the screen. She pointed to a section of the map, and shook her head. "These are all small towns. Smaller even than Dollyville. We could check, but it's my guess that they don't have banks big enough for a whole safety deposit box system. And several of them are suburbs of Boston that didn't exist 40 years ago. " She sipped at her carmel mocha latte, and stared long and hard at the lit screen. "Boston makes the most sense. It's two only two hours away, and has multiple old banks." She held the key up for both of them to examine. "It just has that old proper feel to it...just like the city itself. I say Boston is where we should look next."
"Well, that's out of the question. I can't spend days tromping from one bank to the next on some wild goose chase. I've got responsibilities, you know. Belkins is supposed to be be back in a week about the audit. Plus, I need to be here for morning Mass. It's impossible to get a substitute to come in during the summer months. As much as I'd like to solve this mystery, Rox, I just don't have the time."
She was quiet for a few moments, sipping her drink while the wheels turned in her head. Then, she reached across the table for his phone. "May I?"
He nodded, and watched as she searched page after page, scribbling information on the back of her napkin. After several minutes, she slid the phone back to him. "Okay...I've researched the general basics about all the banks in the Boston city limits. There are only fifteen old enough to have boxes that require a key like this one. If we leave right after 8:30 Mass, we can catch the 9:05 into Boston. That would give us the whole day to check out these old banks, and still leave plenty of time to catch the last train back at 8:15 PM. You'd only be gone for one day, Kevin. Surely you're entitled to some personal time, aren't you? Besides, it will give you an opportunity to check in on your mom. See how she's doing after all the excitement of the wedding."
There was little doubt he should have known better. Roxanne was as capable as his sister Maureen in making him do things he knew he'd be better off not doing. But a huge part of him was intrigued by the mystery key. It was the whole draw people seem to have over the desire to find buried treasure. Plus, the crazy wedding, and his sister's mysterious disappearance on her honeymoon had left him edgy and anxious. A day off to play detective seemed like a fun alternative to fussing over dusty ledger books. Without much convincing, he let himself be sucked into her plan. "Alright, Rox. I'll give you the one day. But if we don't find any answers in Boston, I'm through with this all. I gotta focus on getting through this audit thing with the diocese." He put his hand out for her to shake. "One day, got it?"
She giggled, and grabbing his hand, gave it a shake. "It's a deal, Fr. Kevin. One day is all I ask."
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
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