“I like your apartment a lot. It’s very cozy”
“Thanks, that’s why I moved here. It was home away from home.”
“You never really talk about your family, why is that?”
Allen just stares at his hands, then says, “Want a beer?”
“You know me well.” He turns on a heel and heads for the kitchen. I kick off my converse and cozy up on the couch. A few soft pops and Allen hands me a cold beer. This time he sit next to me on the sofa.
“Since you have shared a great deal, I want to do the same.”
“Do you now?” I say sarcastically. Sipping my beer I eye him slowly raising my eye brow. He sips his beer a few times before he starts to speak.
“My family was as close as you could get. I played baseball for as long as I could remember, and my family was always supporting me. Then my mom got pregnant with my sister, it just made the whole family open up to a whole new level of happiness.”
I could feel the emotion behind Allen’s joy just quickly fade away. He continued on revealing how enthralled his parents were with Ellie, that they didn’t really pay much mind to Allen. He went on to say how nothing he did could hold his parents’ attention. Ellie was the only thing that mattered and they soon forgot about Allen.
“One day, they asked me to take her to the park when she was just four. Some girls from school came up to me and asked about my baseball game and just for a moment I was distracted.”
I hadn’t noticed that Allen had finished his beer already. His hands strangled the neck of his bottle. Slowly squeezing and turning his hands, mimicking the anger growing within.
“Sara- er Sam,.” Glancing quickly up at me, “I never hated my sister, not even with how little my parents cared about me. I loved my sister.” I could feel this lump in my throat. I knew what happened before he even said it. I could feel the loss in his heart. He told me how his parents disowned him and how they blamed him for Ellie’s kidnapping. When the cops brought Allen home without his sister, they yelled at him so much all he could do was take the blame. The officers on the case had to talk some sense into his parents. Reassuring them that this kind of stuff happens and they would do everything they could to find Ellie. Ever since that day Allen’s parents would not speak to him, so a few months later he moved out. The police kept saying that Ellie was still a case they were working, but they all knew Ellie would not be found alive.
“My mom told me that the only time she wanted to see me was if I brought Ellie’s bracelet back.” For a while Allen just sat with his elbows on his knees, staring at the floor. I can see the questions forming in his face. All the concerns and the fear of facing his parents etched on his expression. Words failed me, so I slide closer to him and draped my arm around him. I place my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes. I could feel his muscles relax as I continued to hold him. All the pain he kept inside has invaded my heart and I can’t help myself, tears fill my eyes and a few drops fall onto Allen’s forearm. It seemed to break his reverie.
“Hey.” He says softly, “it’s okay, you don’t need to cry. I’m alright, I know my parents were just heartbroken.”
Never breaking my hold on him, I wipe my tears with the back of my other hand. “I just cannot believe how easily they turned away from you. I cannot fathom your pain.”
“It’s okay, I just numb it out with a few beers and I’m all right.”
“Ha, it’s funny how we share that in common.”
“Oh! That has to be our Chinese food.” Just like that, the mood shifts into a lighter air. Allen puts his beer on the floor, then stands to open the door. He checks who is there through the peep hole and starts to unlock the door. Right as Allen opens the door I see the barrel of a 12 gauge shot gun peek through the crack of the door. I’m on my feet before Allen sees the gun. With all my strength I pull the gun out of the assailant’s grasps. Allen now has the door wide open and he gaps at me as I hold the shot gun pointed at the stranger in the doorway.
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you right where you stand.”
He stands with his hands in the air, showing defeat in his wide eyes. The cold air blows in snow and I glance at the stranger’s feet. There lies our food spilled in the snow.
“Hush up Allen.” I cannot let him ruin my identity. “I just gave you an alternative to dying, answer me now!” I hold the shot gun to my shoulder, strong again the wind. Aimed perfectly to this stranger’s heart.
“I’m an undercover officer. I’m going to reach for my badge.”
“Allen, get on the phone with the Cheif, his card is in my coat pocket, confirm this.” Allen scurried off to the couch and fishes throught the pocket of my jacket. At the same time the “officer” reaches towards his chest. His hand disappears beneath his coat.
” I swear, any quick moves and I’ll shoot.” I hold my aim steady. I can hear Allen dialing the number behind me. The cop produces a badge from the front pocket inside his coat.
“Toss it behind me.” The cop does as I demand. “Allen confirm the information on his badge with the Chief.”
“Yes sir, -Officer Clyde, Okay- Thank you.” I feel Allen’s hand on my shoulder, “Sara it’s legit, he’s a real undercover cop.”
Slowly I lower the barrel towards the ground. I hold it in my left hand beside me. Allen takes the shot gun from me and hands it back to the officer.
“Sorry folks, I didn’t mean to scare you. Chief Rollen just asked me to intercept all deliveries to this apartment. From what I understand, well armed people are after you Sara.”
“So your first thought is to put a barrel through the door?” I clench my jaw, stopping the rest of my thoughts. My cheeks redden at the cold air blowing through the door.
“Officer, please come it.” Allen put himself between me and the cop. With a slight nudge, he pushes me towards the couch.
“Sorry about the food, I wasn’t expecting my shotgun to get ripped away from me.”
“I wasn’t expecting to see a gun today.” I narrow my eyes. I turn my face away before I say anything else.
“I will send for another officer who can pick up some more take out for you guys.”
I cannot help but be suspicous. All the years I had been in hiding, never did the police get involved. As Allen continues to talk with the cop I notice he kept checking his watch.
“You waitin’ for something?”
“Why do you keep checking your watch? Also, why did the Cheif send you? The guys after us never knew where Allen lived or where I was staying.” At this point I see Allen visually tense up. The cop seems a bit to cool and he hasn’t explained anything.
The ‘undercover’ cop holds up a finger to keep quiet. He then places his hand on his holstered hand gun. He quickly makes his way to the front door to look through the peep hole. While the cop is at the door, I keep my eyes on the shot gun leaning against the arm of the couch. Allen stands beside me waiting. I don’t know what is happening and I hate it. I hate not knowing.
Knock Knock Knock
The cop makes his way towards us. He grabs the shot gun and hands it to Allen. Keeping his voice in a whisper, “there’s a guy outside the door with a ski mask on.”
“What’s happening?” Allen finally asks.
“We got a tip, that there was going to be a raid here. Taking all precautions, like you guys ordering in. We would intercept all outside individuals so we could get a cop inside for intel.”
“What do we need to do?” Allen asks almost immediately.
“What room here does not have any windows?”
“The storage closet in the hallway.”
“Good, take Sara here and hide in the closet. I need to get back up here asap.” Officer Clyde says, while he adjusts his ear piece.
I turn towards Allen, I try to gauge his thoughts. He holds out his hand for me and nods. I take it and he leads me down the hall to the closet. He opens the door and waits for me to step in, then follows me in, closing the door behind him. It’s mostly dark inside the closet, except for the line of light seeping in from under the door. Quietly, I place my ear against the door, straining to hear any sound. Faint whispers from Officer Clyde can be heard.
“Yes, there is an unidentified suspect, 5 foot 7, stocky..”
Allen joins me by placing his ear on the door. We glance at each other once we hear a few more knocks. We stand snug against the door, trying not to touch the hung up clothes behind us. I find myself holding my breath the harder I try to listen for noise.
“Sir-, I can hear footsteps, circling the apartment-, what is the ETA on back up?”
We hear the cop step past the door and into another room. The tension in the air is very evident. This seriously cannot be happening right now. There is no way they could have known where Allen lives. The sound of my heart beats through the silence.
“Yes-, as I thought, they are looking for a way inside.”
Again, we heard Officer Clyde step past the door, and into the great room. I glance down at Allen’s hands as he adjust his hold on the shot gun. We can hear the faint crunch of snow as this person circles the apartment. Forgetting I need to breath, I exhale slowly. Then, we both hear a hushed breaking of glass, again I’m holding my breath.
“Sir. You are? On the South end? I’m on it!”
I find myself hanging onto the sound of Officer Clyde’s footsteps as he quickly makes his way to Allen’s room. I cannot hear the footsteps outside anymore. Although it’s a strain, I try to find comfort by staring into Allen’s eyes. His expression is unyielding, but I can feel the panic surge through my veins.
“Freeze! Put your hands up!”
Fuck! The lump in my throat grows and my breathing stops. I think I may pass out. Allen shoves me into the corner of the closet so he stands at the front. Shot gun at the ready.
“Drop the gun, Now! Show me your hands, NOW!”
Suddenly, we hear a crash as the front door flails against it’s hinges. A swarm of footsteps flood the hallway and guns click, ready to fire.
“Officer Clyde, there are two more suspects outside, detained.”
“Stay on your stomach, arms above you! Don’t move-, cover me while I secure him.” Officer Clyde takes control quickly.
“Get him out of here,” a husky voice rips through the scuffling, “where are they?”
“Right behind you.” Clyde says, sounding rather winded.
The door swings opens, briefly binding both Allen and I as the light spills into the closet. We are greeted by a burly man, wearing a vest with S.W.A.T written on the front. I stand against the wall, a bit dumbfounded , why on earth is the SWAT here? Allen reaches out to me, grabbing my arm above the elbow. He gently pulls me out of the corner. My body finally respond to his touch. Once our eyes meet, he takes my hand and leads me out of the small closet. I feel like everything is moving in slow motion. I feel every inch of my body and how it bounces with each step I take. The hallway is clear, but the great room holds five SWAT members, and the flashing of red and blue lights bursting through where the front door used to be. The chilled air surrounds my body and every hair on my body stands up. I still cannot wrap my head around why there are so many cops here. What is really going on? I feel so cold. I hug Allen’s arm, not letting go of his hand. He glances down at me, trying to read my face, but I know it will reveal nothing to him. Officer Clyde is back inside the great room.
“Officer Clyde,” Allen calls out, “here’s your gun.”
“Thank you, I’m pretty glad you didn’t have to use this.” A smirk creeps across his face as he takes his gun.
“So, what the hell happened here?”
We sit in the living room of Allen’s apartment. The front door was re-hinged by a very handy officer. I sit next to Allen on the sofa, in a daze. He still holds my hand. It somehow helps regain my equilibrium. Officer Clyde sits to our right, on the second couch, downing some coffee. Another officer had replaced out spilled Chinese take out, so we all sit with our stomachs full. I try to break my daze, but I am just stuck processing what the hell just happened. The only answer I want it to why this cannot just stay in my past. These monsters continue to come after me even with me escaping. Another odd that does not make sense, is how Allen has suddenly come into the picture. It just could not seem any more perfect. Doubt will always hang onto what motives Allen may have, but I want to break away from the walls that keep me from trusting people. Among the list of people I need to trust is Officer Clyde. He seems fairly trustworthy, but we will soon find out what is really going on.
“So, care to fill us in?” I finally ask.
Clyde looks up at me as he sips his coffee. “What do you want to know?”
“Why cops now? I’ve been on my own all these years, why show up now?”
“Sara, we have always been on this case, your case.” Glancing at Allen, Clyde looks rather unsure of him and why he’s here.
“How long have you known Sara?” Clyde asks, with a suspicious tone.
“Well, I instantly know what you’re doing, but I have known her for quite some time.”
Clyde shoots me a questioning stare, slightly raising his eye brow, “is this true?”
“Yes, but my questions need answers first.” Sitting up facing Clyde so his attention is fully on me now.
“What is the story behind these guys, these traffickers?”
“Too be blunt, their organization is tied into a huge drug cartel. We have found that they are using their captives to pay off debts. Each captive is worth a certain amount, and we have found that you are quite ‘valuable’ to them.”
I stare shell shocked to this. I feel the blood drain from my heart, yet the pulsing builds in my ears. “Do you know why?” I ask.
“The only thing we could find was that you were the only one who got away, but I feel like there has to be a bigger reason to this.”
“I over heard that they didn’t even know she was here. It was by total accident that they found her.” Allen quickly chimes in.
“Really?” Clyde says, now intrigued with this new information.
“Yeah, ever since Sara had this fainting spell at school, I have been with her. We had been taking taxis every where and one of the drivers happened to be one of these guys and recognized her.”
Quickly grabbing a pad out from one of his packets, Clyde jots down a few notes. “What did the guy look like?”
“Well, I just say this scar on his eye,” turning towards me Allen asks, “Sara, do you know who he was?”
I can feel my anger stirring within. “I never knew who he was, but I knew of him. I gave him that scar.”
“Wow, how?” Allen finally release my hand. I don’t know if it was of fear or if he was giving me some space. Suddenly, I feel so uncomfortable. I realize that I have never really shared this story to anyone. Granted no one ever wants to share my kind of story, but here goes.
“He tried to rape me.” I can feel the tension fill the room instantly, but I know I have to continue. “He wanted me to fight back, so he undid my restrains. He got so caught up in the moment that he forgot about this pocket knife hooked to his belt.” This is harder than I thought to share. I stare to rub my hands together, suddenly aware of every inch of my body. My chest tightens with every labored breath I take.
“I just remember trying to push his hips away from me, and then I felt the metal. I grabbed it and slashed his eye.” I look up to see Officer Clyde stopped taking notes and Allen’s expression seemed to soften and concerned filled his eyes.
“That was one of the things I did that helped me escape.” I started to squeeze my fingers, trying to gauge a different feeling than what my memories were making me feel.
Officer Clyde leans forward, placing his elbows on his knees. “You did what you needed to do to survive. I know this is not easy to tell me, us, but just know we will end this.”
I don’t find my voice, I just slightly nod to acknowledge Clyde. I just feel so uncomfortable. Allen has shifted stiffly next to me, like he is trying to figure out what to do or say next. I see Allen and Officer Clyde meet eyes, and there’s just this subtle movement in Clyde’s eyes that makes Allen stand and walk to the fridge. I don’t look up, I just stare at my knotted fingers. I hear a few clanks of small glasses and soft pours and I instantly know Allen has broken out his brandy.
Handing me a glass, “Here. Your day has been long enough.” Allen lifts his glass in unison with Officer Clyde and we down our drink.