I’m posting a crime series every Wednesday and Friday that I hope you’ll enjoy. It’s actually a Long Short Story I did a couple of years back that I’ve re-edited and would like to share. So without further adieu,
Water For Blood – Part I
by Robert C Price
I saw Jackie on the kitchen floor with a face like raw meat. Her clothes tattered and body bruised. If it wasn’t for the clothes, I might’ve thought she was someone else and not my wife. Looking at her body contorted on the hardwood surface, my mind jumped to our son Terrence. I dashed upstairs to his bedroom to check if he’s injured. The room draped of chaos and confusion, but not from a dire struggle. Just a typical preteen’s lair.
I checked every room to make sure while dialing his cell phone. My heart sank when I heard Drake’s falsetto voice singing, “I’m Coming Home.”
I flew downstairs trying to pinpoint the location of the phone. It grew louder as I got closer to Jackie. Underneath the kitchen table, it danced and sang until I hung up.
Two seconds later, the phone began its concert again. Startled, I retrieved it and stared at the Caller ID that read “UNKNOWN.” My gut told me to answer in hopes that it was Terrence.
“Like my message?” said the voice.
“I got it loud and clear. Where’s my son?”
“He’s with me. I want you to go over to the TV and push play on the DVD. I made something special for you”
I walked over and did as he said. They gagged Jackie’s mouth, tied her to our dining room chair and beat her like an animal. They made Terrance witness the death of his mother. The tears welled-up along with the fire that rumbled deep in my chest. I sat on my couch and nearly rip the stuffing out of the cushions.
“Fine camerawork don’t you think? I was telling Reese that Tarantino would hire him on the spot. I mean, the angles, zoom-ins. It was fuckin’ brilliant. Dude’s missin’ his callin’,” said the voice.
“Fuck you, Derek. Let my son go. You want me. So here I am”
I wandered over to the window and peeked through the blinds. I spotted a black SUV parked at the edge of the driveway.
“I see you sent an escort”
“No doubt. You walk out peacefully and I won’t send you what’s left of your son in a ring box”
I closed my eyes and relished the thought of putting a bullet through Derek’s head. One more bittersweet moment.
“I’ll be out”
I hung up and strolled out looking back at the lights I left on. Jackie hated to turn them off.
She would say, “It’ll make the thieves think twice about breaking in”
“Baby, some thieves don’t care if you’re home or not. If they want it, they’ll take it,” I would tell her. I’m sorry she had to find out the truth.
The SUV pulled further into the driveway. Two men jumped out, grabbed me and threw me in the backseat. There I saw an old friend with a crooked smile and a .45.
“Beans. Long time no hear from,” as the words hung in the air like icicles dangling from branches.
He took the butt of his gun and struck me across my face. Specks of blood decorated the interior.
“Just shut the hell up and enjoy the ride,” said Beans.
We drove south on Highway 441 towards 19th Street where the bargain warehouses loomed like shanty towns. Ten minutes later, we stopped in front of an empty building and headed inside.
Derek looked thinner. Had a couple of more scars on his face since the last time I saw him five years ago. The glove on his left hand was new. Stunk of cockiness as he sat in a folding chair flanked by Reese and an unknown woman. And that smirk planted on his face didn’t lessen the hatred I have for him.
“So what are you calling yourself now? Fuckin’ Roland Grant. Bullshit mechanic at a bullshit dealership,” he said getting up from the chair coming towards me.
“I didn’t know they let people with dreads work at a place like that. ‘Fraid their hair might get caught”
“There’s a wonderful invention called a rubber band that helps with the situation. You ever heard of it?” I said with fists tight as a cannon shot.
I saw Reese reach for his waistband, but Derek waved the notion away.
“You still got jokes, Stevie. I can call you Stevie, right? That being your birth name. I know this Rude Bwoy setup you got here ‘spose to throw us off the scent and shit, but I don’t forget a face. Especially my brother’s”
Steven Elijah Cahill.
Saying it in my mind doesn’t quite make it real. It just reminds me of what I left and why I left. Sorry ass called me Stevie. He knows I hate that nickname.
“I see that look in your eyes. It still pisses you off. Good. I would’ve been disappointed if it didn’t,” said Derek.
My brother threw a right cross to my face that stunned me. I saw stars and lights twinkle like Christmas and got a second busted lip that only enraged the previous.
“Feel better that you got it out your system, D?” I said, “Where’s the boy?”
“Don’t worry. He’s safe. Young Terrence is the least of your problems,” he replied sliding back into the rusty metal folding chair.
“Raheem and Tamik are pissed off at you leavin’ the family. They had us lookin’ all over Philly and Trenton for you. Hell Stevie, they almost killed me thinkin’ I had sumthin to do with it. I told ‘em straight up my loyalty is to them, y’know, Fuck Stevie.”
Derek took his glove off and showed me his burn-scarred hand. It looked raw and painful.
“I promised them that when I found you, I would kill you myself. That wasn’t good enough so they gave me an incentive. You caused this. You owe me.”
I let his words sink in as the scene of my wife’s lifeless body flashed across my mind. Sprawled out on the floor like the countless victims I played a part in.
I knew what I did was wrong. The Mason Brothers brought stability. They offered an abundance of things that two poor siblings from 49th and Baltimore couldn’t even begin to afford. They were our idea of success and whatever we had to do to get it, we did.
“If you’re gonna do it, you gotta let Terrence go. He’s not a part of this,” I begged.
“That ain’t true. He’s family. See, you’re no different from me. Your loyalty is to that boy,” said Derek, “I’ll let him go, but you have a job to do first.”