2016 06 29
CARVED Part 07: The Appointment
“WHO ARE YOU?”
Those were the words carved onto Rod Estoque’s arm. Elvira peered over his shoulder and whispered, “Wow.”
“It really worked,” she said. “This is perfect, Rod!” she added, clapping him on the shoulder.
Rod frowned. “Why’s that?” he asked.
With a malicious grin, Elvira said, “If it was any other person, I don’t think she would have answered. She remembers you, and you’ve already got a headstart.”
Elvira nudged him. “Go on,” she nagged. “Write something else!”
Taking the pen, Rod wrote on his arm, “IT’S ME, ROD, FROM THE BOOKSTORE.”
The cuts faded away. Only the words Rod wrote remained. Then the familiar pain shot through his arm. “IT’S KRIS. IT REALLY HURTS.”
Rod pinched the bridge of his nose, thinking hard. He faced Elvira and said, “Aunt Elvira, you mentioned you met Kris when she was younger. Did you ever get a phone number, e-mail address, anything?”
Elvira shook her head. “No,” she replied. “Why?”
Steepling his fingers and hunching his back as be faced the statue of the heroes, Rod said, “There has to be a way for me to contact her aside from this.”
“She’s the head of a criminal group, Rod. She’d probably want to keep her identity a secret.”
Rod frowned. “But before she was just a kid. And kids love to share everything. Even things that could be used against them in the long run. She must have had an online profile, something that could be traced back to her.”
Elvira laughed. “You know, the way you’re talking now reminds me of your father. He was always so serious back then. But sometimes he forgot that the simplest solutions work best.”
Rod faced her. “What do you mean?” he asked.
Pointing to herself, she said, “Don’t forget, I have connections to that family.”
“I thought you severed ties with the criminal world when you joined the police.”
“But not anymore. In my line of work, having all all kinds of connections helps me more than it hurts me.” With a smirk, Elvira added, “I did get shot at a few times in return, though.”
Picking up another pebble, Elvira stood and raised her leg and raised her fists to her chin. She looked like a baseball pitcher winding up for a throw. She slammed her foot on the gravel and threw the pebble. Rod could hear it sing as it zipped past the statue of the heroes and disappeared behind a row of trees.
Elvira straightened herself and said, “I think this is enough for today. Someone’s watching us. Watch your phone, and I’ll let you know when I can set up a meeting between you and Kris.”
Rod watched her as she left without saying a word. Someone was watching? He faced the statue of the heroes. Who could it be? He got up and walked towards the statue, his heart beginning to thump harder with each step. A part of him needed to know what Elvira saw, even at the risk of his own safety. Rounding upon the statue, she saw drops of blood on the grass near the base. Next to it was a pair of binoculars. Rod picked it up and saw that the left lenses were shattered all the way. Only a bullet could have fit into the narrow tube of the binoculars. Or a pebble. He dropped the binoculars with a shudder and went home.
It took only two days before Rod got the text message from Elvira. It told him to get dressed and be in his best behavior. He put on a blue dress shirt with khaki slacks and black loafers. He made sure to comb his hair and shave before he left.
“Oh my,” Mrs. Estoque exclaimed when she saw him finally emerge from his room. “Are you going on a date?”
Rod’s lips curled in disdain at the comment. “It’s business, Mom.”
She smiled as she leaned against the doorway. “Sure, it’s your business to meet your new girlfriend. Introduce her to me sometime!”
Elvira chuckled when he approached her car, a beat-up silver sedan. “You look too good for tis ride, Rod,” she said. “Maybe you’d like me to call a taxi?”
Rod threw his hands up. “Why does everybody think there’s something romantic going on here?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Secret messages between a girl and a boy. One’s a struggling idealist and one’s the head of a criminal organization. A forbidden meeting between the two that will lead to an outstanding conclusion!”
Even Rod could not help but smile at that. “Guess you should have become a writer instead of a cop.”
Elvira shrugged. “Nah, I find it better when my fingers are on a trigger and not around a pen. Let’s go.”
The car was smelly and the upholstery was grimy. Rod had to move some of the shiny guns that Elvira posted on the passenger seat to the back before he could squeeze himself in. “You can never have too much protection,” Elvira told him. He thought about asking for a gun from her, but he turned down the idea. Too dangerous, he told himself. What I’m doing is risky enough without bringing a gun into the mix.
The drive did not take too long. They arrived at the heart of the city and stopped in front of a quaint family restaurant called Melinda’s. Rod checked the curtains and found that there were no other guests in the restaurant except for the men in black suits and shades. The only exception was a young woman in a yellow dress who was busy writing something. Kris, Rod told himself. Kristina Bowie. The entire name still sounded foreign to him. Who knew that this woman hid so many secrets behind that facade? And now, he had the chance to unlock them for himself.
Rod unlocked the door and got out. Elvira followed suit, placing a revolver into the leather holster under her left armpit. She hid it under her jacket, where the lump was barely noticeable. Together they approached the door. She knocked twice. It swung open, revealing one of the burly guards. Though his eyes were hidden by shades, Rod could feel him staring, checking if he was a threat. He did the same to Elvira, and grunted.
“No weapons inside, Miss,” he said, holding out his hand.
Elvira rolled her eyes. She showed the holster and eased out the gun using her pinky. “Can I at least leave it on the table next to me?” she asked. “I feel weird without one nearby.”
“I will allow it,” said a woman’s voice behind the guard. Rod knew that it was Kris, but she sounded so different from back then. The woman who spoke was not an artist, but a leader. And he had an appointment with her that he had to keep.
TO BE CONTINUED
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