Of Goats and Forgeries
The day before the meeting I got a cryptic phone call from my cousin Fay, ‘Whatever you do, do not tell the story you used to pull that one on us!’, and she hung up before I could ask her why or what was going on. Twenty-one further attempts to get back at her proved unsuccessful, and the others were out-of-reach as well...
So, OK, I got the message, they were still a bit mad about me and my stunt, but that mad?
And were they trying to pull one on me as a form of revenge?
Like I cared... much.
I was going to tell a story that night, or maybe they would find another excuse for me to not tell them anything... but in any case I was going to be there and we would share some memories of the ‘Good Ole Days’ like we had for the past three years (almost).
So when I got there I was bit disappointed, they were all laughing in a very good mood, which meant that that last customer had cost me a good joke. I sat, made my order and asked what was going on, and for answer I got...
‘Tonight we’re talking about ‘Goats & Forgeries’, everyone who has a good story either with she being targeted as ‘the goat’ of anything, or dealing with some forgery, or preferably both of them, can tell her piece... and Mary here just told us... Ehrrr...’
‘A good one?’ - I asked Hannah who nodded - ‘About the (fake) 1941 Roadmaster?’ - Mary shook her head while grinning – ‘About the two Marylander twins posing as just one ‘gal pal du jour (or du week)’ on one of the Duchess’ frontwomen in San Diego?’ - And they all shook their heads in synchrony (after joining Mary in her grin mode)!
After a couple more of (lame &) unsuccessful attempts I conceded and told Mary that she was my guest for dinner in the following night...
‘So, who’s next?’ - I asked.
‘Can I?’ - asked Lee-Ann and we nodded or said ‘yeah’ – ‘Imagine the scene... I am alone in my home, watching something on TV, its 8 PM and suddenly there’s this noise coming from the kitchen. Something fell and crashed quite loudly, too loud in fact. OK, so I am not alone in my home... and the landline is mute! (…) Cellphones weren’t yet that common, OK? (…) Anyway, I stand up, put on a black shorts and T-shirt (I was wearing only a pink set of lingerie) and decide to check, and as soon as I put my foot outside my bedroom... two gals tackle me! One on my legs and the other on my waist, trying to trap at least one of my arms in the process! And there’s this third gal about three yards behind them aiming a gun at me and telling me to behave... with the safety of said gun... ‘ON’...’
And she described the scene, as how she fought those two gals while the third kept yelling ‘I am going to shoot!’ over and over, and actually pulled the trigger three or four times (and then looked at the gun with a ‘What’s going on with this ****!’ face before she threw the gun at Lee-Ann!), while Lee-Ann heard a fourth gal coming up the stairs!
‘So I needed to finish things before that dame, who kept yelling ‘What’s going on?’, as she came up the stairs appeared. I punched the brunette, a very good punch, and she was out, then I grabbed the gun, put the safety on ‘off’ and grabbed the plump girl as her friend finally appeared. ‘Shit’, was all that she said before she knelt on the floor with her hands clasped over her nape. I released the plump gal and made her tie up and gag her friends, with the whole lot of stuff they had brought to tie and gag me, and then I took her to my room. I am not into bondage, but back then I usually kept some rolls of tape... duct tape, electrician tape and even a roll of bright red tape... ‘just in case’...’
‘‘Just in case’? Of what?’
‘Gina! Come on! You live in a ‘good’ neighborhood and obviously no one there knows what exactly you do for a living... and then one day or night you are absolutely and royally busted by a noisy neighbor, or a concerned citizen, or....’
‘I got it... my bad... it just... never happened to me...’
But, by the look on the faces of many of the others at the table, I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t been so lucky! Interesting...
‘In a few moments I had a tight package in silver and black, I left the red tape for their gags and blindfold, as I led her back to the corridor. A little tape here and there and I had four tightly tape and tied and gagged co-eds as my... (…)? What?’
‘I know what you’re thinking Dora, what you all are thinking. ‘Nancy Drew’, right?’ - and we all nodded – ‘Quite the opposite actually. I took a good look at them... four girls, in the late teens or very early twenties, dressed as casually as possible for a hot Saturday morning in sunny California. The tallest one, the brunette, was wearing tiny blue jeans shorts and a white T-shirt, with a black bra underneath it; the plump gal wore black jeans trousers and a green T-shirt with the Rolling Stones’ tongue on it; the black babe (she was easily the most beautiful of them four) wore a pink T-shirt and a white Bermuda shorts, lastly, their leader (or at least the one who bossed them from downstairs) was a thin gal with long thin legs, that were for all to see since she wore a black shorts that was halfway through the first gals micro-shorts and the buxom babe’s Bermuda’s one, plus a blue T-shirt with the logo of some metal band I never heard of. I checked their wallets and was really surprised with...’
At that moment she just had to make a pause, the waitress came with my order and the others made new ones and there was a... incident, with a drunk guy in a table to our left, and none of us had to help the barman to throw the guy out in the street, but we stayed quiet for like five to ten minutes. And when we resumed...
‘A picture of me, taken secretly a couple of days earlier, was in all their wallets. In the purse of... Mmmmm... Brenda (the ‘leader’) was my rap sheet and their plans for kidnapping me... so they could have your truly as their goat...’
‘For what?’ - asked Fay and Mary together.
‘Girls... four young gals, one black, one thin, one plump and one brunette, working together in the mid-to-late 90’s? Oh come on! (…)? Alright... here’s a hint... ‘Wes Craven’.’
‘The ‘Ghostfaces’??!!!’ - me and Dora said at once.
‘Themselves...’ - But then she saw that some of us didn’t knew of whom she was talking about – ‘In the summer of 1997 a band of four gals did a string of robberies in the ************* area. They always wore skintight black clothes, like some mimics do, and the same ‘Ghostface’ mask; they were very efficient and cunning, choosing well their targets and leaving next to nothing as a clue or evidence for the cops behind them... and as quick as they appeared they disappeared... never to be heard from again...’
She can be a such a tease sometimes!
‘Truth is that they were lucky amateurs... how did I and Dora knew that she was talking about them when she said that there was a brunette and a black girl among them? The plump gal and the thin one were distinctions that were only enhanced with skintight costumes... but their skin colors or hair colors?’ - I said/asked.
‘Once they had a wildcat in their hands, some bratty daughter of a very good big bucks lawyer, and she managed to dislodge one of the masks of her assailants as they fought to tie her up as they had done with the rest of her family, revealing the color of the hair of one of her attackers, and in another occasion... well... one (and more) too many martinis made a housewife think that her half a dozen self-defense classes had turned her into the American (and white) version of Chun Li... She did manage to rip part of the black t-shirt she was wearing, revealing her black torso and brown bra. In both cases the... uncooperative victim got an upside (and suspended) tie-up, in the buff, in a crowded (with clothes) closet as a ‘reward’ for her behavior.’ - said Lee-Ann.
‘Not very professional...’ - said Sondra.
‘Please! They were just thrill-seekers! Four girls who wanted big paychecks to pay for their clothes and trips and... You know those bank-robbing surfers led by Patrick Swayze in that movie? Something like that... in a ‘co-eds only’ fashion that is...’
‘So they were... (…) Ehrrr...’
‘Unprofessionally sadistic, Hannah?’
‘Yeah, they were... that... with any victim that wasn’t exactly a piece of cake to deal with?’
‘No. They always made sure that, wherever was the place they would strike at... mostly houses but in one case a jewelry shop..., there would be at least three people to deal with while ‘cleaning the house’. And when the police, or whoever else, showed up to find their victims and free them, they would always meet people bound and gagged in their undies...’
‘Because that way it was more fun? Who knows? They were sadistic little *****, not pros... like I was, Fay, much to their chagrin... anyway, back at the story?’ - We nodded – ‘So... I had four captives whose hands were like door knobs now, but before I decided to do some search I thought that it would be better to split them... The brunette went to the closet of my room, I somehow managed to carry the plump girl to inside the closet of the guest room, the ‘leader’ found herself bound to the banister of my staircase, and the black babe was left in my basement. All with rope reinforcing their helplessness and making sure that they were stuck wherever was I left them, and then I went outside to find their car(s)... Today I would check their Facebook accounts but back then..., even SMS was in kindergarten... their wallets provided some stuff... but it was the trunk of the plump girl’s car that gave me everything about them, including why they had tried to capture me.’
‘You said it already, to have you as their goat.’
‘But for what Hannah? And why?’
None of us, especially Hannah, could answer that one.
‘Their biggest and last heist! A hundred grands at the very least! They had it all planned and, in fact, their string of robberies was just for training purposes, and to give a good smokescreen for the police and insurance companies! It turns out that they had their eyes looked on some jewelry, that would be available for one night only at a private party at a manor where the mothers of two of them worked, for a few months...’
‘Hold on... all that you’re telling us... was available in the trunk of that car?’ - asked Dora.
‘No. I got some details later, during the interrogation I put the girls under... but what I found (besides more photos of myself), was the diary of the plump girl!’
‘Oh come on!’ - said three of us at the same time...
‘And she had it all...’ - I started.
‘Right from the moment they started their plans for their first job... or adventure, as it had ‘Adventure Log’ written in pink letter on its cover...’
We looked at her as if she was pulling our leg... she wasn’t.
And one by one we started to laugh. After a few minutes, and a lot of snorting, coughing, smirking and grinning and such, Lee-Ann resumed.
‘It turns out that, for reasons unknown to them, they had attracted the attention of a police detective... Paola DeSantinni, ever heard of her?’
‘Six feet one of raw and pure athleticness, with little fat on her body and yet... knowing very well how to catwalk on high heels, even if she still don’t do it regularly?’ - I asked.
‘Long and curly (!) black hair and matching black eyes, pouty red lips always begging for more lipstick and a waist only seen in comic books?’ - Irma asked.
‘Who keeps as a personal trophy, down to putting it on a wooden picture frame above her large king size bed, the gun with which a loser tried to kill her in her 21st birthday?’ - Dora.
We then looked at each other and, fairly obviously....
‘I never heard of her!’ - We said at once.
‘Very funny... Anyway, she was the one that was investigating their string of robberies, and they were fearing that she was onto them. She had, somehow, managed to find them and was making too many questions, raising too many suspicions (even among the other members of their sorority). So those amateurs needed a diversion, a goat to take the blame for their ‘big one’, and they were looking for it. She must have used twenty pages of that log just to try to find a way to divert Paola’s attention, each new idea dumber than the very dumb previous one... until one night, a couple of weeks before that day, (…) Ehrr... Cindy (the brunette) and Kesha (the black girl) went to see a movie in a mall... and saw me.
Now Kesha didn’t knew who I was, but Cindy was from my home state and happened to have an eidetic memory... a photographic memory... and my escape from the slammer had been quite publicized at the time it happened, even if it didn’t made national news. To their luck that mall was really far from where I lived, and when the movie ended I had to take a cab back home. A little bribe for the driver and they knew my address, a little stalking and they managed to take a lot of pictures, my ‘third eye’ wasn’t yet what it would become ten years later, while they dug all the info they could about me... the perfect goat for their plans...’
She looked at Irma, took a deep breath and, without any emotion whatsoever in her voice:
‘They would kidnap me and keep in their power for three days, and then it would be their ‘big night’, their biggest heist, they would rob clean the ladies attending a meeting... an annual gathering of sorts... and before they left but after they made sure that there wasn’t any camera recording their actions... they would pick me from the trunk of one of their cars and make me touch a lot of stuff in the place with my hands unprotected...’
‘Oh come on!’
‘One; CSI and other shows that popularized forensic procedures weren’t available and; Two... Amateurs, Charity, skilled and efficient enough to successfully overpower a number of victims like five times their own but amateurs nonetheless, the whole lot of them!’
And she grinned so evilly after she said that...
‘Soooo...?’ - asked Gina.
‘I got in touch with a gal I knew... The Ballenero Tower...’
‘You didn’t do that!’ - said Hannah as she put on a face like she was holding herself to not burst out laughing. She really had to get a hold on herself! After her, somehow, managed to compose herself she explained to the others who was that gal...
Yeah, I knew her...
‘La Torre Ballenero is... was a tall woman, she’s been under the radar for so long that I don’t even know if she’s alive or not. Well... she was a handler of people, among many other things, and always did her job right. ‘Here, there’s this guy or gal, a sturdy linebacker and/or a curvy cheerleader or..., that I would like to be NOT SEEN by anyone for the next... two weeks’ and you could be sure that for the next two weeks he or she or they would vanish in thin air. In some cases she would provide the ‘extraction’ herself. I told you that she was tall... and strong, very strong. 99% of the time she was ‘Ms Professionalism’... but... if the person she was supposed to take care of was... say... a blonde beach bunny...’
‘An eye candy secretary...’ - I added.
‘Or any woman above the legal age but under 40 that was, to put it simple, more than just pretty...’ - said LeeAnn as she shook her head - ‘...then she’d play with her...’
‘Play? As in...’ - asked Fay in the name of the others.
‘You know those bondage stories in which the villainess(es) spends more time binding and gagging the poor miss(es) damsel(s)-in-distress in various positions, over and over and over again, than anything else like doing something actually profitable?’ - I said.
‘Oh... so she didn’t...?’ - asked Hannah.
‘Well, technically it was a sexual assault... which caused her to have a bad fame... But which made her very suitable for my needs. I called her and hired her to take care of them four for... five days, and break them and scare them into never ever try anything on that side of the law. I needed to relocate and do some stuff before I disappeared, and in order to convince them to fund me with the gains of their crimes...’
‘Yes?’ - asked Sondra.
‘Well... Ballenero dropped by 11 PM, I fancied myself by packing my stuff and having a bath and a dinner while I waited for her, when I wasn’t checking on the effectiveness of the bonds holding down my captives that is, and in a quick time she had them roped up inside her SUV (that she parked inside my garage), I told her to spare no rope and she did just that (without any help from my part!). Four rope (and aside that barenaked) mummies wriggling quite pathetically... in the cargo area (three of them) and one in the backseat (Kesha, of course), and off she went... after I told her to make them sure that they were having the worst time of their lives... before they were sold to a brothel down the border...’
‘YOU...!!!!’ - Mary stood up, Gina and Dora held her and forced her to sit back in her seat, she huffed and puffed for a minute before LeeAnn intervened...
‘Mary, only one of them knew how to use a gun... and they had pulled a total of nine jobs with unloaded guns! And they were so overconfident that they saw me, ME!, and thought: ‘Oh, she’s just some lame ******* hillbilly **** who got incredibly lucky in her seven-months-planned escape from the pen. Of course we, high and mighty and good (way too good to be true! Aren’t we?) ‘Ghostfaces’ will fool the LAPD and the world by using her as our goat...’, and did a lot of stuff, too long a list for me to tell you gals without bothering to death, that made me quite clear that they weren’t fit for that life!’
‘So you taught them a lesson, granite hard-rock tough love style?’ - I asked.
‘And got a little revenge for whatever they.... or just that plump girl... (...)?’ - started Fay.
‘For whatever Carrie alone wrote about you in that diary? And got some money, from their pockets, to pay for your new identity in the process?’ - finished Fay.
‘Yes to all.’ - and we all looked at Mary.
‘You devil... but I can understand you...’
LeeAnn just smiled before she resumed her tale.
‘I told Ballenero that I was going to show up at her address by noon the next day, but before I had to do something... namely pay a visit to Detective DeSantinni...’
‘Why?’, ‘What?’, ‘Were you high?’ and other phrases soon composed a horrible cacophony as we all assaulted LeeAnn at once, aiming our incredulity at her in loud tones!
‘In spite of the bull... that she had wrote on that diary, there was enough in that to make ME sure that their... fear about DeSantinni knowing the truth about them was more than just paranoia from their side. And what if she had them under surveillance? Could I had been caught in some picture with my amateur stalkers in hot pursuit of me? Turn out that the answer for that question was a sound ‘YES!’... as my visit to DeSantinni proved...’
That was enough to shut any disturbance that we were preparing to launch at her.
‘It was surprisingly easy to get inside her apartment. No cameras, no doorman or anything close to that, no fancy and/or difficult locks to pick... I just went there and got inside... puff! Just like that! It was about 2 AM by then, and Paola was in her room, sleeping. Just to be sure that she wasn’t going to be an issue I pulled my taser from my backpack and had her out for good in no time, and then I pulled a lot of zip cuffs and went to work, five on her legs (a big one to keep them folded and the others to keep them together with the ankles crossed), four or five on her arms, three on her torso and four strips of black electrician tape over her lips, she was sleeping with a very wide black sleep mask. It took her like ten minutes to awake and put on a show for me, bucking and jumping and jerking up and down..., she is one of those folks that really hates to be tied up!’
‘I know!!!’ - me, Irma, Dora and Sondra said at once...
‘Then YOU tell us about the time(s) you met her when it’s YOUR turn to tell a story! In any case... I harrumphed after a couple of minutes of she playing and she stopped playing the bronco right away. ‘I am not here to do anything to you other than I already done, so cool off. I will do my stuff and you will be ‘free’, so to speak, to try to free yourself when I am gone, but not before... or I will leave you spreadeagled and buck naked for your fellas to find you...’ and she stayed put as I took a peek at her notes... It was worst than I thought!’
‘She knew about you?’
‘Yes and no, Mary. Yes because there were like five pictures in which I appeared, two alone and three with one of the ‘Ghostfaces’ trailing me... (...) I hadn’t developed the ‘sense’ yet, OK?... In any case, they knew my face but did not knew, yet, my name (But were looking for it). There wasn’t a single clue about who I was anywhere I looked, and in fact she was after the co-eds due to a ‘hunch’ of hers other than factual evidences or clues or even suspicion. I gathered a few of her stuff for myself and then I put on a show...’
We all looked quizzically at her.
‘I was going down anyway, it was a matter of time (actually it had already happened but she did not knew it and thus so didn’t I) before as name, my name, could be attached to the picture of the ‘mysterious gal’ the suspects, her suspects, were trailing that past week... In case you don’t know the ‘Ghostfaces’ attacked the families of two major donors of ******* ***********’s last political campaign, so there was a lot of pressure over the whole police force to bring them down, but DeSantinni was the only one that, thanks to her guts alone, was in the right trail... and since I was going to have all the fruits of their ‘labor’... why not? I decided to have them off the hook... So I pretend to spurt and choke and... laugh...’
‘Laugh, as in ‘I can’t control myself!! I have to laugh for the whole world to hear me!!! But I can’t do that right now...’, and for a minute or two I went on, until I saw that she was, as she did, buying my act... Next I grabbed my cellphone and dialed a nonexistent number, and as the recorded message kept telling me that the number was wrong and that blah-blah-blah... I took a conversation with someone called ‘D’ in which I mocked ‘her’ for her fears, since the ‘great detective’ that she was sure that was hot on ‘her’ trail...’
‘Was actually trailing some suspicious co-eds?’ - I asked.
‘And she bought it?’ - asked Sondra.
‘Why wouldn’t she? She had nothing on any of the four save ‘facts’ that were perfectly explainable to anybody else, and when she showed up at the precinct hours later she heard about me and who I was, and that they were missing, she actually feared for what ‘those foolish four’ had gotten themselves into... she was by then really mad at me and wanted to know who the **** was the person who had verbally abused her, she did wanted some revenge and that made the ruse work so well, but she probably never told anyone about it...’
‘...Of course not! It took her over a decade for the guys and gals she worked with to stop taking her for her looks, that are fantastic by the way, and start to actually respect her... and that was yet to come so she didn’t wanted to play the ‘damsel-in-distress’ for anyone!’ But you wanna know something, LeeAnn?’ - and all eyes were now locked on Sondra – ‘When it was my ‘turn’ to deal with her she actually thought that I was you!’
‘Same here’ - said Irma, and me and Dora nodded as we answered to the mute question the others made to us. Then Irma looked at LeeAnn and asked the obvious question – ‘Just what exactly did you said to her to get her so mad at you?’
And LeeAnn answered that question...
Mary had to ‘cool off’’, with a little help of Gina and Fay, and I excused myself and went to the ladies room. I checked my messages and the most recent one was from my ‘spy’ and was the confirmation of my suspicions, they had plans to pull a BIG fast one on me...
I put on my best poker face and returned to the table as LeeAnn was resuming her tale.
‘Anyway... At some point I pretended to ‘control’ myself a little more and struck a deal with her, I would ungag her and make a few questions, she wasn’t going to try to scream or anything else and in return I would remove the zip cuffs from over her arms and replace them with her own handcuffs, and I would leave the keys by the door of her room. Said and done, we talked as I pretend to not be able to take her seriously because she was seriously believing that ‘my buddy’ was a co-ed and she told some stuff, mostly about the attack of the ‘Ghostfaces’ that had turned them into one of the police’s top priorities... I said that ‘my buddy’ had been ‘terribly unprofessional’ that night... but in the end she gave me the info I feared the most. They had my fingerprints! Fortunately for me IAFIS was but a dream... so I still had, or I thought I had, some time left... Right... By noon my picture was in all TV channels! And so were the ones from each one of the Ghostfaces...’
‘I remember that... say... So your real name issmmmorrggmmphhh...???’ - started Gina.
Dora had her handgagged as she looked straight to her eyes.
‘LeeAnn, her name is Lee-Ann-Win-ters... is that clear?’
Like I told a hundred times before, we really don’t want to know the ‘real/actual’ name of the others. We could know that if we really wanted to... but we decided to never pursue it.
I won’t tell you what he had to say to make the waitresses (and some patrons) look weird at us after Dora’s quick reaction, let’s just say that if we weren’t already seen as the most ‘colorful’ bunch of regular patrons of the place, after our ‘explanation’ we became just that!
‘Anyway, when I dropped by Ballenero’s place it was next to impossible for me to get out of there, at least during daytime. So I made my offer to the girls, and with what little I had stolen from DeSantinni to back my claims that the police was hot on them I managed to learn where they hid the money and stuff they had achieved with their actions...’
‘Under the bed of one or two of them?’ - asked Gina.
‘No, in a trunk in the basement of the house that was their sorority. You know those Russian dolls that are made of wood and can be placed one inside the next one?’
‘Ah... Matryoshka dolls!’
‘That’s their name, Hannah? Anyway, there was this big trunk whose key was hid inside a pillow in Brenda’s room. Inside it was a smaller trunk whose key was dangling around Kesha’s neck. Inside it? An even smaller trunk whose key was one of many held by a key ring strapped to Carrie’s backpack. Finally, inside it was a... box? It was slightly bigger than two shoe boxes piled together, and its key was in a drawer in Cindy’s room. To their surprise, and Ballenero’s, I told them what they should tell the police when they were found... In short, they were needing some money and saw me, and believed that I was still a ‘pathetic hillbilly loser’ and decided to capture me for the reward instead of tipping the police about my whereabouts, and found out that there was a long distance between the real ‘me’ and the ‘me’ they thought I was... What? I got more money than I needed to start over just with the jewels they had collected! And I could see that they had learned their lesson... Ballenero made me see the pictures, but I only did so in order to check if she had ‘gone too far’ with any of them. That Mexican gal is nuts! Positively nuts! Patently! But save for a lot of cramps I don’t think that any of them four actually suffered a thing... And the police was going to believe in it anyway, they knew who I was... with a little push from ‘our’ side...’
‘Our side?’ - asked/teased Charity.
‘Yep. Two days later I dared to go look for their loot. Easy stuff, there were some reporters and other people that I had to avoid but..., save for Cindy’s roommate (A skinny redhead, with three small piercings in her nose and a big one on her navel, whom I left hogtied in the buff... I used strips from her fluffy towels after I surprised her leaving a bath, inside the tub) nobody saw me. Ballenero had her fun for a couple more of days, the girls got mad at me when I told them that DeSantinni was actually alone on her belief that they were the ‘Ghostfaces’ (and thus I ended up... helping Ballenero for a full afternoon) and she left them inside a stolen limo (that the police didn’t took more than twenty minutes to find). By then I had struck a deal with a fencer and just had to go to the deepest bottom of the sea for a few months... Not that much of a bother, during which I learned this and that...’
‘Yeah... but you forgot the ‘best’ part!’
We saw the quick exchange of snaps between LeeAnn and Irma with genuine curiosity, they were friends from ‘back then’ but not used to that sort of ‘exchange of words’ (at least not in public). But soon it became obvious that Irma wasn’t actually serious when she ‘accused’ LeeAnn of inadvertently ‘meddling’, for worst, with a job that she was working on...
...with the story she had just told us?
‘The annual gathering that was to be the greatest job of the ‘Ghostfaces’ hadn’t they tried to use her as their goat? My goal and target for like three months of my life. A long forgotten loser, whose name I will not say, hired help for this ‘Golden Opportunity’ that he had heard of. Five friends, all alumni of the same Ivy League college, had decided to promote a meeting to discuss ‘the good old days’ once a year. All five were pillars of the local society, ‘salt of the Earth’ and dames of unblemished reputation, and once a year they went to their bank vaults, picked their most valuable jewels and showed off in all their glory. It wasn’t a public event nor did it appear anywhere in the media, five rich hags and their multimillion jewelry in one of them’s inner sanctum for one night only per year... Of course, their insurance companies demanded that their meeting happened with some hired protection around... And that’s how we were going to get our access to their ‘sparklers’...’
‘By replacing the men and woman sent to protect them, Gina!’
To be honest, it was at that moment that some of the others started to realize what was the story she was telling us. Me? I was more worried about how I would counteract their plans against me that night, so it took me a little longer to see it...
That’s not a lame excuse but a fact! (Back to the story?)
‘Well, Charity... Guys... It turns out that instead of hiring a big and well known firm for the job of that year, the lady in ‘charge’ of that year’s meeting was a bit short of money... so she hired a recently established team of ex-military fellas...’
‘A mom and pop business?’ - And Irma nodded, so Sondra looked dumbfounded at us before she returned her gaze to Irma – ‘The insurance companies allowed it to happen?’
LeeAnn just raised the palm of her hand in the ‘stop’ sign.
‘They weren’t informed about that little bit... Anyway, the guy hired me and three more and had the help of his girlfriend too, and we all called each other with Greek letters: our boss was ‘Alpha’, his second in command was ‘Beta’ and then there were ‘Gamma’, ‘Delta’ (yours truly) and ‘Epsilon’, the girlfriend was called ‘Baywatch’, because she was blonde and busty and looked good in a one piece (blue) swimsuit... (?) She did some small modeling jobs for a living and one night ‘Beta’ and ‘Gamma’ went to a strip joint and there she was, on an add by a wall with other barely clad gals, I can’ recall about what was the add itself (I saw it a couple of weeks later). Anyway, Alpha seemed to have it all planned down to the tiniest detail. Plans of the manor we were going to strike, or from the manors of the other ladies, or of the building where the ‘mom and pop’ company was located? He had. A list of all the jewels the ladies had in their vaults and that could be ‘available’ to us that night? He had it too. A profile of all people that was going to (or at least supposed to) be there that night? You name it, he had it. And some of the stuff came straight from an insurance company that was linked to one or more of the ladies! So we planned and waited and waited and... came the day when I was supposed to strike my first big one. I already had a reputation of being reliable and good with a gun and behind the wheel, but I hadn’t did anything ‘BIG’ yet. Just some stuff here, by the docks, down the border, beyond the hills and back... but nothing that could make me the subject of some small talk at Moe’s or The Looney Gun. And Alpha and Epsilon arrived to our meeting point with a ‘guest’ inside the trunk of Epsilon’s car... the sole granddaughter of the hostess of that year’s gathering...’
‘You sound like you were not expecting that.’
‘None of us was, he kept saying that he had ‘an ace up his sleeve’ but didn’t tell us what it was. Guns? ‘Here’. Cars? ‘Here’ and ‘here’. Uniforms (for when the four guys would pose as the security crew)? ‘That pile over there’. ‘But what is your secret ace boss?’ - She said in a weird and mocking imitation of her own voice – ‘And he would only answer... ‘Maybe I will use it, maybe I won’t, but in any case...’ and he would move his shoulders up and down for a moment before putting a bold smug on his face...’
‘Awww no! NO!!! HIM???!!!!’
Charity’s outburst attracted a little more attention than we wanted. She whispered a name in Irma’s ear as we waited for a while as we pretended that we were talking about our lame old flames of our college days (none of us ever went to one...), Irma nodded and Charity just said ‘total Loser with a capital ‘L’ that deserved what he got in the end!’ about ‘Alpha’.
‘Anyway... Alpha told us that he was... hmmm... Eve’s latest ‘friend with benefits’; Baywatch got jealous almost instantly when she saw the girl (not as ‘hot’ as Baywatch, but more than just ‘pretty’) but he slapped her and she ‘cooled’ off; and that he just wanted to be sure that the lady of the house we were going to ‘visit’ that night was going to be cooperative to our demands... Neither of them told us where they had grabbed her and why she was wearing only a purple set of lingerie besides the duct tape. In any way... off of the trunk she went, in Epsilon’s arms and carried in bridal style, and to a swivel chair inside a closet in Alpha’s room, we called it his ‘office’ but aside a desk and a couple of chairs it was usually bare. We saw Baywatch having an argument with Alpha, which he finished this time with a ‘come here’ kiss, and he dismissed her as he had to make some phone calls, and time passed a bit slowly as me and the others played some poker while Baywatch sat on a stool, put both elbows over both knees and her chin resting over both clenched fists while she kept her eyes locked on the closed closet door. At some point we heard Alpha saying ‘****’ and in the next moment me and the guys were taking some boxes from a back room and piling them on his office. ‘Just in case’ he said cryptically, and I took a peek at one of the boxes and it had clothes, for men and women, in it.
Then it was time to use our ‘secret warranty’, a cardboard sign (with ‘Please do as they say!’ written in bold black letters on it) was placed on Eve’s lap. He just opened the closet door, put the sign on her lap, took a couple of pictures before he made a close-up one of her face (with a Polaroid camera), rotated the chair to check on her rope bonds, rotated the chair again to wave goodbye at Eve and closed the door... It was 2 PM and we had a long afternoon and night ahead of us... And, of course, Baywatch didn’t wait to see us leaving to return to Alpha’s office...’
And she told us a tale of a heist well done. How they had overpowered everybody at the small security firm; how she had tied up and gagged the only three women there (two secretaries and the sole woman on the security crew assigned for that night’s job); how tight the discreet uniform looked on her body (She’s the tallest of us all, isn’t she?, which made her force one of the secretaries to help her look for a more suitable one); how the men made sure that the actual owners of their ‘new identities’ would not interfere, while she just mummified the already well bound dames to different places in the large office of the place; how they showed up at the address and let it all happen smoothly for the next three hours; how she and Gamma had then overpowered the three maids and the cook of the place, that she said had obviously seen better days in the past; how Alpha made use of the Polaroid pictures to enforce the cooperation of the lady of the house who then allowed her friends (and escorts) to walk into a trap... Sigh... and I still hadn’t realized what story, under a totally unexpected viewpoint, she was telling us!
Well, the others... all of them... didn’t realized it, so they didn’t found odd that I, of all people, was so ‘disconnected’ that I couldn’t see what she was talking about.
Which made them be off guard when I made my move...
Anyway, she quickly told us why none of the five dames were gagged (‘Too risky given their age’), how Epsilon got ‘enchanted’ by the escort of one of the old ladies (‘a real looker with big teary brown eyes’) and how Alpha and Beta started arguing about the jewels, ‘cause Beta wanted to check on the other rooms of the place, especially the private ones of the lady of the house, in search of ‘more stuff’. Alpha told her to make sure that none of the cars from the guests and house crew would work and off she went to tear cables from the engines of all seven cars, and was suddenly grabbed and handgagged by this pretty cop who aimed a gun ‘microns away from my left ear’ as she was warned to behave…
‘But how could I know?’
‘It was your fault!’
The exchange went on for a few more jabs among them until Charity decided to intervene, and me and Dora helped her. The next moment those two were facing an angry me (LeeAnn) and an angrier Dora (Irma) as Charity addressed Irma in a very cold tone.
‘Care to explain why you blame LeeAnn blame for the interference of that cop?’
‘Three years later I was on an ‘art sale’ operation and there was this guy, a real idiot, who was ecstatic about his ‘HOT!’ new girlfriend and arranged to introduce her to us. The girl, whom he called ‘Adeline’, was none other than DeSantinni... By the way, she looks really volcano divine in black leather pants! I saw her and she saw me and... there was a ruckus while me and one of the other guys’ babe tied her up. The whole operation was obviously compromised and some of the guys wanted to get out ‘now!’, other wanted DeSantinni dead and others wanted to salvage what was possible. All the ruckus ended when two of the ‘strong-arms’ of our group said to everybody (but me, since DeSantinni was putting on a fight!) ‘Any ************** who make us accessory to murder will become the reason why we will be wanted for murder!!!!’, and then we all went on ‘salvage’ mode. Me and the bimbo half-dragged/half-carried her to a back room where we spared no expense to melt her to a solid hardwood armchair... (…) Okay, I wasn’t interested in helping the boys carry all the stuff and plan and such... my role on the ‘operation’ was... acquisitions and not transport, and none of them knew her so if it wasn’t for me...’
‘So you decided to slack up?’ - asked Sondra.
‘Well I did question her about how she had learned about her ‘boyfriend’ and other stuff, and she kept herself mute. The dame... what was her name?... Pris... Priscilla (?)... she went by ‘Prissy’, but I don’t know if that was because of her name or her attitude, and she was a bodybuilder (one of those big ones)... Anyway Prissy walked away of the room with DeSantinni’s pants on her right hand (and knew very well that they would never fit her, she was only 5’3” to start with!) and I had her all to myself... So I let her blew some steam and then I tried to question her but she, sitting on that throne...’
‘Throne?’ - asked Mary and Dora together.
‘Yeah, the place we were using to gather and stash our ‘stuff’? It was a studio for a porn movies company that had recently gone bankrupt... Very interesting posters all around... And for whatever reason that they might have, they made this solid... mahogany (?) chair and bolted it on a square platform, it looked like a throne, and we found it in a very dusty room. Me and Prissy are having a little trouble with the frenzy (and bound!) wildcat in our hands and Prissy turns to me and says: ‘Let’s tie her to the throne!’, and I complied... and after she huffed and puffed on a mewled fashion, and found out that she was stuck for good, I warned her about bothering me with useless screams for help, removed her multilayered gag made a few questions to her about how she had found us, how much she and her many partners knew about us and such, and she kept quiet. And then I asked her about how the **** she had appeared all of a sudden out of nowhere and threatened me that night, she tried to ignore me but, in the end, the treat of being found hanging upside down in the buff proved to be very effective... and she told me everything... AND IT WAS YOUR FAULT!!’
‘So... she managed to find the key to her own handcuffs and freed herself... right?’ – And we all nodded – ‘And after a looooong reflection she decided to keep it, the attack against herself on her own apartment, to herself. She somehow managed to sleep a little and in the following day she went to her division and heard the big news... The mystery woman that her suspects were trailing was a dangerous wanted (but not well known) criminal! And all co-eds were missing! A few hours later a tip from one of her neighbors led the whole police force to her house. They found nothing but a lot of fingerprints from the co-eds... They went to the sorority the girls lived and found out that they had done a lot of research on you, but only on the parts that were of public dominion.
Their research showed how dangerous you actually was... It did not took much for her superiors to come up with the logical conclusion... Four co-eds, needing a lot of money ASAP for various reasons, spot a wanted criminal that they know very little about and decide to play Velma & Daphne (squared) on the... miscreant?’ - We laughed and she got a playful jab on her left arm from Mary for that one – ‘And now they were all missing. Truth be told the way things were at the moment she could have fallen for it like everybody else, after a long period of ‘Could I have been wrong all along?’ mulling and pondering, but no... the humiliation she had just suffered made her sure that she was on the right track somehow, if she was wrong than she’d admit that she wrong, but she had to be SURE of it. The weird arrangement she found in the sorority, when she went there to investigate the attack on one of her (still) suspects’ roomie, all those different boxes one inside of the other, made her even more suspicious... and so her captain gave her two days to stop it... or else! She checked all the clues she had and, she had to admit it, none was a smoking gun one and could be the ‘proof’ that her hunch was right or that the general opinion about the co-eds was right.
Except for this little thing about the girls cars having been spotted on the same neighborhood many times in the week before their disappearance. A little more digging and she found that the mother of two of them had worked in one of the manors of that region of the town, and both had been fired, in the very same day!, under a scandal that made them lose any chance of working on such kind of place in the whole state... So, what the hell? If she was wrong she’d have to work a LOT to earn the respect of her captain back, but if she was right... and all because of the *********** she went through while your captive!’
LeeAnn looked around and saw that we agreed with Irma. Her anger issues, as she would admit (eventually), had gotten the best of her that night...
Could DeSantinni’s actions had been different (as Irma said that the busybody had claimed to her) if LeeAnn’s ‘visit’ hadn’t happened? Honestly, who knows? But with what little we knew about the whole story we all sided with Irma, including LeeAnn!
‘Ok... before you return to your own version of ‘Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead’...’
‘What? (...) What are you talking about Charity?’
‘It’s an old movie with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, showing the story of Hamlet by the viewpoint of two minor characters of the story...’ - Hannah explained to us.
Irma didn’t like to be called a ‘minor character’, but let’s face it, that’s what she was in the whole business! But that was what made her story so interesting!
‘...As I was saying, before you return to the story you were telling us, what happened after she explained to you why she went there in the first place?’
‘As if I would leave a loose end behind!’ - she dared to say adamantly!
And we all looked at each and coughed and harrumphed out of synch, creating a little ruckus that attracted too much attention (not that we did mind at the moment)...
‘(You bitches...!)... Alright, maybe I left a few...’ – We got ready to start a new round of coughing and harrumphing - ‘I did it in the past, fine, but not tonight! (…)? So she went there after her captain told her not to, and as she’s passing in front of the manor who she sees, dressed as a valet, leaving one of the cars parked in front of the place?’
‘Hold on, the gate of the place, it was that close to the house as it was in that TV movie?’
‘Even closer, Mary... 20 yards tops! And the place was well lit! (…) So she saw Gamma and he saw her... she was in her own car and wore civilian clothes (she was a detective after all) but he still read her clearly, and got himself on guard and kept an eye on her. She parked her car in front of the next door neighbor’s gate and pretended to be there on duty, flashing her distinctive to a camera so she could get admitted inside... and went straight to the phone to call for back-up! As for Gamma he decided to go back inside and see that we were all gone in less than five minutes, he even tried to warn us about her! But right at that moment Alpha and Beta started their chat!’
‘And like in the TV movie, when she called her boss... (?)’ - I asked.
‘It wasn’t like in those movies were a fell from grace cop, or one who feel in a good prank, calls the precinct and the whole force is there to hear his complaints or rants... but the captain wasn’t alone in that room either. She ended up having to shout like in the movie: ‘Alright! I was wrong! But guess who I just saw dressed as a valet?’, with a lot more cursing and swearing than they showed in the tube...’
‘And the captain’s reaction was like in the movie?’
‘No, Gina, that was another case of ‘creative liberty’ from the scriptwriters, you know how it is... He asked for confirmation, with a little disbelief from his side but only that, and she just remind him that he had Gamma’s ‘wanted’ poster in one of the walls of his office...’
‘And what about the birdwatchers’ stuff?’ - asked Mary and Fay.
‘According to her it was real... the multimillion CEO, and his two granddaughters, that lived there was a birdwatcher, and not a peeping tom, and he had this collection of books about birds, paintings of birds (some very rare and pricey) and... A dozen or more binoculars! He even joked that it had to happen a crime next door for the little girls (ages nine and ten and not six and seven as they were in the movie) to finally touch one of his goggles... And DeSantinni, at first, had no intention at all to move away from the window where she found herself after three minutes inside that place, but then one of the little girls saw this ‘ugly dude with a big nose’ and she pointed the lens in the direction she was told and saw... Epsilon... and she told the old man to prevent the girls from seeing anything more, told her captain who else was in the manor next door with Gamma and...’
‘She knew... ehrr... Epsilon?’
‘Gina! She was Robbery & Homicide! Who worked there and didn’t knew to whom belonged that face after what he did to those girls in Malibu? She saw that ********* and pried the goggles from the little girls’ hands before anything else! And then she went there, jumping the wall between both estates with the help of a butler... Okay, flash-forward to the point she told me all that years later, I thanked her for having explained that bit to me and played nice: no dirty socks (hers!) inside her mouth for packing, just nine or ten wide strips of microfoam tape until from the nose and eyes down to under her chin she was all white, a kiss on the forehead and I went to join the boys... we left the place less than five minutes later and she was found like four hours later... she managed to grab three or four of the gang, including one of the women, but it was the other one she wanted to catch really badly... I wrote ‘Oops I was caught again!’ on the tape with her lipstick!’
After we laughed Fay made the obvious question...
‘Hold on... isn’t/wasn’t it a Brittney Spears’ song?’
‘Almost. And it wasn’t on the top ten anymore but still... the reference stuck! For years!’
And Sondra and Dora nodded at my affirmation... DeSantinni probably is, to this very day, also known as ‘Officer Brittney’ by those who don’t like her... which are still many.
But it’s much better than her previous nickname, ‘Officer Gwen(doline)’!!!
‘Well... so I went there and opened a hood and took some cables off of the engine, and did it three more and suddenly... Behind YOU!... Three seconds too late... she was a couple of inches smaller than me but she had me, but good, and there was no way that I could be able to free my arm (that she was twisting) as she whispered to me: ‘Let’s lie down on the stony ground, shall we?’; and then... to the surprise of us both we heard a distinct cocking of a gun and a male voice saying: ‘Great idea detective DeSantinni, please be a doll and do it right away...’, and it was Gamma’s voice, of course. She tried to argue but he cut her short: ‘I have no intention to see you or anyone else hurt, you have my word on that, but if you delay us any further so the reinforcements you obviously called before you came here manage to arrive then... I am afraid...’, and she let me go and I turned around with a good punch already packed... But Gamma said (over DeSantinni’s shoulder): ‘I meant it when I said that I wouldn’t let anyone get hurt if it wasn’t necessary!’, and his eyes mean it!!! So, I unpacked the punch, extended my arm without any harm intended alongside my body, and he helped me cuff her hands behind her back as he told me to put her in one of the car’s trunk while he went back inside to warn the others... She barely protested as I opened a trunk, and then she thought that she could try something…’
‘Did she put on a fight?’
‘She tried, Hannah, but I had her hogtied and gagged with what I still had of scarves in my backpack, Alpha had made us bind the old dames and gag the rest with LOTS of it (we used rope and tape for the bindings on them), and I looked at her lying and said ‘Nightie night’ and closed the lid, right on time to see the others running to our awaiting car… and that’s when I also saw the reflexes of three shining things in two different windows in the manor at my right, Alpha and Gamma saw it too. And then we all saw the flash of a camera! So we went to the van of the security firm and left, but less than a quarter of a mile we saw a dame getting into her not so fancy (compared to the others we had just seen) house’s garage, and we saw that there was another SUV parked inside it already. Five minutes later the dame was writhing on the floor of her own garage, I and Beta took care of her with what he had left of the scarves and some tape, and the others transferred everything we had in the van to the SUV, and we left in two cars. The most precious bag, the one with all the jewels we had took from the dames, was firmly in Alpha’s grip all the time…
We arrived at our base, got the cars inside and left them, and we went to the floor (it was like you may remember a two story building) and the boss called for Baywatch… nothing, no one answered. He called again and again and in the end he told us to go look for her as he put the bag on a table and started to sort out its contents. I went straight to his office, and there she was…’
‘Baywatch?’ – asked Mary, and Irma blushed so adorably before continuing her tale…
‘I have to confess… that I did not recognize her at first. I mean, there was this swivel chair (the only one in whole building), and there was a naked gal tied and taped to and on it. And the only gal I had seen in such a circumstance over that chair was… the granddaughter...’
‘Eve?’ - asked Fay, Irma nodded and we all laughed at her!
Honestly, have you seen the pictures? Of Eve and Baywatch? Come on! Busty vs. small to medium breasts, 5’9” vs. 6’2”, long hair versus short one… Well it was when Hannah said something about the hair that Irma managed to shut us down and continue the story…
‘She had a canvas sack on her head, okay? I saw a bound and taped naked body and a huge sack where the head was supposed to be, and the sack was tied and knotted around the neck, not too tight so she risked to suffocate even if she didn’t moved an inch, but tight enough so she couldn’t dislodge it on her own. I yelled, ‘I’ve found her!’ and as I approached the chair I realized: ‘The breasts are bigger than they should be’, ‘Where did that tattoo came from?’ (A black and white bald eagle above her navel) and finally ‘She got smaller?’ and I worked on the knot to remove the canvas sack from the head… and the teary eyes of Baywatch looked back at me over a very tight black electrician tape gag…’
‘And Eve? She was really inside the closet?’
‘Yes, Dora, and the moment I pulled the sack over Baywatch’s head, like one-and-TWO!, she got out of it wearing blue jeans trousers and a black T-shirt and carrying a gun which she aimed at me. And then I heard the cocking of two other guns, and saw that all the others had joined us in the ‘office’, but Beta and Gamma had led the way… and now Alpha and Epsilon (respectively) were behind them and holding guns against the base of their skulls! ‘What’s going on?’ I remember to have asked… And ten minutes later Beta and Gamma flanked me as we lay sitting on the floor of the ‘office’, quickly but very efficiently taped up and gagged by our traitorous business partners… In the meantime Eve cut all rope and tape that held Baywatch’s trapped body against the swivel chair, and put her on a hogtie in front of us, and they all were grinning and laughing as they left us, but then Alpha had an idea and knelt by Baywatch’ side and left a few jewels in a pile at her left… ‘So you can never say I never gave you something’ and then they left…’
‘Did you hear the shots?’ – asked Sondra.
‘No, and I didn’t saw Epsilon’s corpse either. Later I would learn that he didn’t liked that Alpha left those ‘gems’ with Baywatch, even after he learned the real reason behind his actions (!), and started to demand that they returned to the office ASAP, but since Alpha and Eve had a plane to catch and he had already outlived his usefulness, and was a leering piece of *******(!!!), Alpha shot him and they left the building. Back at the office we four were frantic trying to free ourselves, but the tape was holding and so it would for hours. And the way they had intertwined our ankles would make it impossible for any of us to stand up! I was starting to drench in my own sweat when I realized that Baywatch was worming her way towards the three of us, and she came closer and closer… and she passed us and went to the pile of clothes we were using before we put on our ‘working clothes’ (the clothes we used to invade the security firm), and suddenly she’s trying to grab Beta’s left shoe?
She had to make some contortions of her own, the hogtie was one of those really ‘arched’ ones, but she grabs it and starts to hit the shoe against the floor… one, two, three… and in the fourth a blade appears from right under the toes stay. I and Gamma looked at Beta and he simply shook his shoulders. Ten minutes pass and Beta and Baywatch (who were lovers going back a month or so and were, as you know, planning to betray us all as well), are free and while Baywatch is trying to see how well MY CLOTHES fit on her body (Eve had forced her to shred her own ones), Beta (who was the son of a guy who made jewels), grabs one of those monocles to appraise the gems and starts to dismiss one after another the few stuff Alpha left for Baywatch. ‘Fake, all fake! Not a single one of them is real!’ and soon, as Baywatch finally found something to wear (Gamma’s blue T-shirt and Epsilon’s trousers) that suited her tastes; they discussed what should they do. Free us? Not a chance…
Run to the airport (since they also had a flight to Rio de Janeiro, Alpha’s most obvious choice of destiny according to both of them, booked for that night)? Yes! And so that ****** added more tape to my body while Beta did the same with Gamma and they waived goodbyes as they left smirking at us and he complained, with reason, that if that meddlesome cop hadn’t showed up, then he would have been able to force Alpha to let him take a look at the gems, but while Baywatch enjoyed Copacabana he would find that lying ********** and would make him PAY!!! As you all know, Eve had a friend in Barcelona that could sell those jewels… I was there, on the airport, when Baywatch managed to return to California after Beta left her behind (and penniless), but that’s another story…’
And we all turned our eyes to Fay after Irma aimed hers at her.
‘You swear you had nothing to do with them at the time?’
‘I only met Carl like a semester after that night!’ – Fay answered.
Irma looked at her for a moment, dismissed any revengeful thoughts she could have been brooding all these years against Fay (she swears that there weren’t any, but she’s Irma! We know her!!!) and then went back to her story after a loud sigh.
‘But at least, as she was trying to free her real lover, she undid the mess that kept our legs weirdly piled together and, when she taped my ankles together, she didn’t cross them. So with a little effort I was able to stand. Gamma just shook his head as he tried to say ‘don’t do it’, but we were both very well gagged… And I ignored him anyway… ‘If the old geezer wants to stay behind it’s his problem!’ I thought. So hop and hop I went, and as I was getting out of that room… TUMP!!! I collided with, I thought, was a solid rock wall!’
‘But it was…’ – I started.
‘Who else? Kodiak, and the two other Big Bears were right behind him. He managed to grab me and thus he prevented me from falling backwards, but in the next moment he’s carrying me bridal style as we get back to the room! And they were all talking and saying ‘Boss this’ and ‘Boss that’ to Gamma! And before I could understand anything they are handling him like a dozen cellphones, none was of the same type than any of the others (!), and he only looks at me as if examining an exotic butterfly in a collection before he says: ‘Take her and keep her there until we can find out if she’s trustworthy’, and before I realize it I am inside a trunk heading who knows were… with more rope and tape restraining even further my body! And, ‘though he could get there in half an hour from where he started, that *********** left me in that smelly trunk for over three hours!’
‘But… did you hear… that?’
‘Let’s not place the cart before the horses, okay Mary? (…) Good. I was kept bound and gagged for the most part of the next three days, and let me tell you one thing to those who didn’t have the ‘pleasure’ of such an experience… it’s really boring after a while, not to mention the cramps. I never knew who was the girl that… ‘took care’… of me. But since it wasn’t you Fay… (Not a chance?)… then I’ll have to find a list of Tombstone’s girlfriends of the time… Let’s just say that whoever she is she’ll have the same problem that I had with sitting on hard surfaces for a while… yeah, she really enjoyed spanking me…’
‘I know who may have that list…’
And thus for the next five minutes Irma had only eyes and ears to Dora, who happened to know a guy called ‘Phil something’ who used to work at Moe’s, but had left like six years before, and who happened to have the proverbial ‘super-memory’. He knew the addresses and phones of pretty much every girl who had worked at Moe’s since 1978! He was the place’s accountant, real nerdy fella with a ‘big mustache and bigger nose’, and since (with very rare exception) Tombstone only dated girls that worked there, before his wedding…
After she milked Dora of every detail she could use to find that ‘Phil’, Irma resumed…
‘Don’t worry girls… I just want to make her, whoever she is, have trouble to sit for twice as long as I had for a while… but back to the story… three days pass and then (since I was kept blindfolded as well), I feel a pair of hands undoing the knots and rope pinning me to the bare mattress I was ‘enjoying’ at that moment. But while they are definitely a pair of woman’s hands, they’re not the ones I got ‘used’ to. They’re bigger. And then I am grabbed bridal style and took away from, what I know today, was the secret room Tombstone so much uses to this day. Where is it I don’t know, but I know that it’s not in the main house of his ‘farm’, since she had to carry me under the sun, and with some wind around us, for a while. She took to a room and then inside a bathtub, she finally undid my bonds and I removed the gag and blindfold myself and found myself looking at…?’
We did not answer that question.
‘Demoted Debbie… I didn’t know who she was, just that this big and mean gal was now towering me and I was naked inside a tub. She said: ‘Have a bath, I provided some clean clothes for you and they’re making some grub. After you’ve eaten you’ll learn a few things’ and left me. Forty minutes later I was seeing my own version of Lord Jones’ confession…’
Can you believe it? She was the mysterious… (?)
Come again? You never heard of Lord Jones?
(Kids these days…!)
Alright, back in the early 60’s there was this guy, Lightning Jones, happening in the area between Savannah and Dirty City, pulling job after job. One day he went to rob this dame and… well that part was never clear to those not directly involved in it. Somehow, a dame that, at the time, went by ‘Mrs. Olivier’ knew that he was going to rob her and set a ‘tender trap’ for him. And he suddenly thought that he was in some cheap Hollywood love story and that he had found the girl of his dreams, but ‘Mrs. Olivier’ was a married woman, in a very unhappy relationship with an abusive husband and…
Yeah, yeah, I know…
To make a long story, about which I have but speculations to offer to you, he and she planned the ‘perfect crime’ and set to steal her jewels during a private dinner with some friends. He found some goats that could do the job, and take the blame for it, with him, set things in motion and… was arrested in New York City after trying to sell ‘cheap glass’ to a pusher, getting involved in a brawl with some friends of the guys he had used and finding that ‘the girl of his life’ had left the cheap hotel room they were staying at, after discovering where he kept his money. While he was being booked she was cleaning his two or three bank accounts… It took the now branded (at least for a while) ‘Dirty Jones’ decades to get most of his previous reputation back, and with it a new alias, ‘Lord Jones’, thanks to his behavior toward pretty much everybody else.
About five years before that night he made some very bad investments, got scammed, and lost most of his money. So he had to go after small jobs for a while as he tried to, once more, get himself back on his own feet. That’s what Alpha saw when he approached him to offer his services… An experienced guy desperate to get some self-respect back!
How he knew that Alpha was the latest one, after a list of five accomplished thieves that the ‘respectable Mrs. DuGrand’ (her third husband’s family name) used to get very profitable checks from various insurance companies… Well, he took that to the grave with him…
But he knew that she, somehow, had gotten in touch with him and that in a matter of weeks his ‘ruse’ of a ‘down-on-his-luck’ criminal was finally going to pay…
He never lost a cent! Not a single one! He pretended that he was going to fall on some white collar scheme and, the very night before he was supposed to lose his money, he and a pair of ‘friends’ visited the Wall Street guy who was trying to embezzle his money…
The guy NEVER left the Big Apple (but where his remains are located is still a mystery).
And the two ‘five numbers’ prostitutes that were with him that night left that life, after a three months period of total disappearance from the surface of the Earth (literally), and ended up living boring normal & ‘honest’ lives on this side of the country…
But it seemed, to all people interested (including the FBI and any PD on both coasts), that he had gotten away with tons of money, and that Lord Jones was one of his victims!
He spread his web, patiently, for years! Waiting for the girl he once had called ‘My Love’ to be in need of some cash, fast, and if you believe what Jocasta has to say about it, she caused her some financial troubles that set her in search of the next ‘duck’…
According to Irma, he honestly didn’t know that she had a granddaughter that was just like her grandma, there were two or three meetings of Alpha and Eve in public places, but who was that girl? He didn’t manage to find out (she lived in another state and only met him when she showed up to visit her grandmother). But he knew about Beta and Baywatch (the video Irma watched had some very interesting pictures according to her), and about Epsilon… And he didn’t knew a thing about Irma herself!
‘Can you believe he made it sound that it was MY fault that I spent those days wrapped up for present? ‘Your penchant for secretiveness was your downfall’ he said, ‘It took me a lot of effort to find out if I could be honest with you’, can you believe in it? But, after the video, two things became crystal clear to me… I was supposed to ‘play dumb’ for a while, let anyone who would end up knowing that I had taken part on that heist (as few as they would be) think that I was in deep ****, with ‘Fingers’ Oswald…’
‘Him???!!! Were you mad or what?’ – asked Charity.
‘More like desperate to be such an idiot…’ – I added.
And we soon remembered, just among us and leaving Irma outside that talk, the ugliest bits from the uglier stories about that loan shark. After nine or ten minutes we all aimed our disbelief at her, who was fuming mad at us. She told us that she was ‘just 23’ and that she had the ‘right’ to be that stupid for once, and only once, in her life…
‘Anyway… the video ended with him promising that the person that would free me would have a very suitable alternative for me to pay my debt with ‘Fingers’. I just turned around to see Deborah holding a sleep mask in her hands. ‘Put this on’ and I’ll drive you there…’ she said. Forty-four minutes later she told me to remove the mask, as we were being admitted inside a garage of a very cozy house. We left the car, that wasn’t hers but of the real owner of the place (a blonde mid-forties lawyer with ‘just’ a couple of pounds that she could lose very graciously), as she grabbed a pile of files from a bag between the backseat and the driver’s seat. She handed it to me and I took a peek, it seemed a ‘how-to-rob’ ten or more different houses in different areas of LA, each one belonging to a different woman…’
‘They were… ALL of them?’
‘Yes, Fay, three were quite the lookers and the other weren’t ugly by far… and all were just hoping that ‘I’ would pick her for one of the five robberies I was told to ‘commit’…’
‘Why????’ – asked four of us at once.
‘Like I could tell you girls what Deborah promised them in return of that ‘little favor’… I did get suspicious, really suspicious, about the whole story. Remember, at that time she was just some tall gal that liked to wander around and add a new alias to her list. She was more known in the East than here in the West… That would soon change, but at the moment all I had was a bunch of files too good to be truth, a dame that was more and more looking like Wonder Woman’s evil big sister and the need that I had to pay what I owe to that… Not to mention the video that I had just seen showed a guy that I respected, but honestly thought that had as his ‘only real possession’ in this world a decaying trailer, wandering around his French Riviera manor (one of three around the world!)… I needed something real up fast!’
At that moment we received our last orders, and we did promise to our regular waitress that we would pay any extra time the waitresses would need to stay after ‘regular closing hours’, the mid-twenties brunette girl tried to hide it, but it was fairly obvious that there was mischievousness in the air… and that she was part of it.
‘So Deborah just clapped her hands twice and, from the second floor of the house, we were in the living room on the ground floor, came the owner of the place. She was wearing a see-through set of underwear that was both slutty and yet beautiful, it fit her very well and she had a body to use it without reservations. She talked to me and it became clear that it was a win-win situation, in her eyes at least. I was supposed to tie her up and steal the money that Deborah had given her that very day, for the tie-up part she was actually craving that I did it ‘tight!!!’, and for the robbery she wouldn’t have any real loss and there wouldn’t be no insurance fraud for her to worry about. Deborah then told me that the rule applied to the others I would choose, they were more than just fine with any form of tying them I would came with, and there wouldn’t be any real legal trouble for them…
But, since in one or two cases I would NOT be using a mask… they would be able to identify me… I never felt so much terror as when she looked me straight in the eye and said ‘Pay attention, besides… ‘Debbie’ here, I managed to convince twelve girls I do love to allow themselves to be the excuse you’ll have to pay for your stupidity. You will tie them up, make a mess of their places and steal the money I gave to them for that little act of ours… Nothing more, or you’ll wake-up after a six month punching induced coma, and it will take you years for be able to stand and run, as it is obvious that you want to do as soon as I leave this room…’ and then she turned around, grabbed the older woman in a fireman’s carry and went up the stairway, when she reached the top of the stairs she stopped and said without turning her head to me, ‘I’ll give three hours to study the files and make your choice, pick five of the dozen I gave you!’, and as I sank to my knees the lawyer just waved goodbye at me…’
‘Why? (…) Oh, no, don’t tell that…’
‘She was teasing me, deliberately provoking me, in order to get her ‘extra-tight’ bondage a few hours later? Exactly, Sondra. But I only realized after I cinched the last knot of an over an hour work of restraining the blonde, and I realized that she was thanking me under the jawbreaking gag and I just wanted to grab my ‘Sucker!!!’ diploma. Anyway… Eventually, I grabbed one of the files, and then other, and another… I don’t know how she did it, it was like she had a form or the likes, but she even made the women answer questions like ‘Any law enforcer officer living nearby that you know of?’ (With the address and distance of him/her to the woman’s own address)! So I started to pick my chosen ones. Another lawyer, a designer, that one worked on the (local) board of a bank, that other on the (state) board of a food company and, lastly, that one did remind me of Baywatch… And when I realized it, four hours and a half had passed!
I looked at the stairs, unsure if I should go upstairs or not, and after ten minutes of wait I knocked at the door. Through the door came an answer…: ‘You took your time, didn’t you?’, and then I heard a weird sound, like a muffled giggle. And then she said: ‘Suit yourself with the fridge if you’re hungry, I’ll be downstairs in about an hour, now go! GO!’. I went to the kitchen and dinned something that, I believe, was a Japanese recipe with a fruit salad for dessert; next I cleaned everything and went to see some TV. I was watching a rerun of a police show from the 80’s when she materialized at my side on the couch. ‘Your picks?’ she asked, I gave her the files and then the ones of the women I had ‘rejected’, and she? ‘After you’re done here, go to ‘Fingers’ and propose him exactly what I told you. Remember, 8K from each woman and you take what you need to close your tab with him with the last one. I’ll call you later to know what your exact debt with him is’ and she left the house. I went upstairs and the lawyer was having a bath, yeah… the classic damsel-in-distress scenario, caught after leaving the bathroom wrapped in towels… One hour and twenty-seven minutes later it was my turn to want to spank real bad a woman, that Salami-Woman in front of me… no other but her!’
‘Well, when I showed up, four days late and with that little money with me he wasn’t very receptive, but as soon as he learned who I had just robbed… I said that it was a ‘blonde lawyer from Pennsylvania’, he asked: ‘Her name?’ and I gave it to him and he smiled, did he smile! It turns out that his brother ex-wife’s lawyer was none other than the blonde and he almost thanked me after I told him what had happened… So, yeah, I had spent the past three months promising him that there was this big heist that I was working on, no it did not involve ‘Lord Jones’ in any way, yes like him I had been double-crossed by my partners… but unlike him I had a back-up plan, namely six dames whose houses were just begging me ‘Rob me, please!’, and the proof was that I had just robbed one.
He wanted more details but he didn’t put too much pressure on me, and eventually he agreed with my proposition: the money I had just brought to him stood for fines and interests, I would have a week to steal the rest from my soon-to-be five victims, and in order to make it easy for him to track my work through his eyes and ears in the LAPD… well we discussed it until I saw, through the windows of his office (at that time it was over that garage in ************), a sex shop on the other side of the street. I called it and asked if they had some ‘shiny bright purple tape’ for bondage purposes, they had four different brands of it!, and it was settled. He would follow the stories about dames being robbed and left packed in purple tape by this lone female burglar, and no I couldn’t do more than one per night, and in a week it was better for my health that I had his money with me! Never ever I did any business with him after that.’
‘And you…?’ – asked LeeAnn.
‘The designer was first, the food board next, the bank board followed, then it was time for the other lawyer and last but not least… Baywatch II... Although I took my time with that one… can you believe that she actually knew Baywatch? There was this big picture of half a dozen semi-amateurs busty models in tight bikinis right behind her family’s ones, and who was the one at the right of the (already taped up) lady of the house? So I made a few questions that she didn’t wanted to answer… ‘Yeah, I know that she’s not the brightest or the most honest girl I know but she’s my friend’…’ – and after making that imitation of a very childish voice she stopped talking for a moment – ‘…I didn’t hurt her, just the treat of ‘an evil guy called Gus’ who had also been double-crossed by Rose Marie (yeah, that was Baywatch’s real name), and had lost a lot more than I had, was enough for her to spill it all (and I did visit Baywatch/Rosie’s apartment that same night, but she was washing dishes or whatever in Rio de Janeiro at the time). After she was found and freed, and the whole act was over, she called Deborah who called me. I don’t know what she did to calm the girl, but it worked. After all, I had followed Debs’ script to the letter; the procedure was the same as it had been with all the others, just the interrogation was unexpected. Fake forced entry signs, fake wild searches in all the houses’ rooms and garage and basement (when there was one), real overtaped and overgagged victims and as easy as it had appeared, the (forged) robberies of the ‘Purple Gag Burglar’ were over…’
‘‘Purple Gag Burglar’? Seriously?’ – asked Hannah.
And Irma realized the mistake she had just made…
We still call her ‘PGB’ when we want to tease her…
After we laughed, I pretended to check on my watch and ‘realize’ that we still had a little over half an hour before closing time. I told them that if they didn’t asked too many details we could make it on time, and then Gina raised her hand…
‘Before you tell yours… I have a story myself, but I am not sure if I can tell it…’
‘Why?’ – I asked.
‘Well, the deal is that we only tell stories about our ‘active’ days… and this one happened nearly five years after I pulled my last heist…’
‘It deals with ‘Goats and/or Forgeries’? – asked Charity.
‘Oh yeah, both of ‘em, and it’ll be up to you to say who was the goat after I’m finished!’
We all looked at each other, I pretended to be cool about it (after all we could easily go somewhere else where I would tell them the story I had ready to deliver… couldn’t I?) and we nodded or said ‘Yeah’ to/at Gina. She took a sip of her ice tea and started.
‘I told you that I was doing time when Charity’s ‘Blimp Story’ happened, but I also lied to you all. What I didn’t tell you was that I was supposed to do 10 to 20 at the time, for a crime I hadn’t been guilty of! Long story short, I am there, plotting revenge after revenge when word comes out, ‘the Mexicans are going to kill ‘Mama-san Yashika’’…’
‘Who?’ – asked Fay.
‘The sister of a very important lieutenant of the Yakuza in San Francisco, she was really the archetype of an Oriental momma, not very tall an’d a bit overweighed and with a real stony and unemotional face, and she had taken the fall for her brother in a case that could have meant a lot of trouble for him, in a trap sprung by some Mexicans. Her brother made them pay for that and, in return, they were going to have her killed, as painfully and slow as possible. I should mind my own business, but I had been victim of a trap myself so… long and complicated story short, I saved her life and had to watch my back on the double for a while, and then she sits with me at lunch time and she demands to know why I cared and I told her. One month later a ton of evidence suddenly surfaced during a raid in **********, the cops went looking for drugs and found my innocence wrapped up for Christmas!
One week later I was a free woman, and the pair of ****** who had set me up were behind bars for life. I thought: ‘debt paid’, and then I thanked ‘Mama-san’ and believed that I would never ever see her again… Years later I am a retired criminal, I have my book shop and a blessed uneventful life… I close the shop for the day, get ready to go back to my home and then I get the message: ‘I need your help’.’
‘No, Mary, from Prudence Li, the sister of Gabriel Li…’
‘Who?’ – asked Fay and Dora.
‘Officially speaking he had a cab company, a small but profitable one, and it took nearly a decade for the FBI to find out that his real source of income was industrial espionage. But it was easy you know… who would suspect that a cab driver and his client, going from some fancy place downtown back to the client’s hotel, were actually somebody hiring his services in plain sight? So, Prudence calls me and she says: I am five minutes away from your shop, I’ll pick you at this address and you’ll get 5K!’, I tried to reason with her, to tell her that I was rusty and retired and she just said: ‘Get inside the cab and you’ll get 5K just to listen!’ So I took a cab with her at the wheel and she told me the mess she was in: Company ‘A’ wanted some ‘data’ from company ‘B’, biggest deal ever for the Lis, nearly five months of planning and gathering info followed, and they found out that Mr. Thomas, one of the chief-researchers of company ‘B’, will have the data in a safe at his place in the town for a day, as he works the final details with the whole thing, before an important presentation for the board (the real one, not the ‘local’ one) of the company the next day. They, somehow, managed to get Thomas out of his house for, never asked how or what it was, at least, ten hours. But then guess what? Gabriel Li had to be rushed to the hospital…’
‘That’s when he had appendicitis?’ – I asked.
‘Exactly! Of all the bad luck! So… she needed someone, someone good and reliable, and she needed that someone pronto! And… they still talk about… my ‘great one’. So, 5K to hear about it, and 20K more if I did it for them... She had brought the tools, mask and gloves included, and was driving me there! So… 25K, tax free, and all for a three hours job top! I got out of the cab, invaded the house next to Thomas’ and left a chubby housewife tied up behind as I jumped over the wall between the two houses (It was also the only blind spot of the external security cameras of the place Prudence had managed to find out about). I got inside the house and then I heard: ‘YOU ******* IDIOT’ in a female voice I couldn’t recognize at first. A long list of cussed words led me to a scene that I could believe, at first.
Mama-san Yashika? Tying up a busty lady who was pretending to be a nurse? (…) Both women wore nurse fantasies, but while Mama-san’s was more ‘realistic’ while the extra-buxom brunette dame (with pigtails!) was wearing PVC! Red PVC! And wearing red high heeled shoes and knee length white socks! And she just begged and begged to be forgiven while mama-san tied her up… I almost made myself known immediately, but it was obvious that the distress of the (now hogtied) ‘nurse’ was fake, she’s like the worst actress you’ll ever meet! And that’s when I saw the cameras. Three, one in front of the coffee table where the girl’s body was now resting on, one on its left side (opposite Mama-san and aimed primarily at her captive’s body) and another behind them, also on the left side, also aimed (diagonally) at the tie-up. And they were recording everything... or were transmitting it? The pigtails were to help bent backward the head and torso of the (now) bare breasted ‘nurse’, each one was tied to a rope that was in turn tied to its correspondent knee, and so on and on and on! After ten minutes of a patient wait, I saw Mama-san patting the ultra-overly-tied-up gal on the head and she said ‘Gin and Scotch’, and her meanness took a walk as she addressed the girl with care. ‘Are you hurt?’, ‘Feeling pain anywhere?’, ‘Can you take it all for half an hour, at least?’ and ‘What’s the sign of distress?’, to which the brunette snapped her fingers three times, then two, then once, as her answer. ‘Gin and Scotch’, and the mean nurse was back as she made vulgar commentaries about how much her ‘clients’ paid for such ‘Occidental material’, I think that she fondled her captive at that point…, and left the girl to struggle for the cameras coming in my direction. I got prepared.
She took a turn, probably going to the kitchen, and there was I, masked and pointing a gun at her. For the first time I saw her surprised, not even when she found that there was a dumb girl fighting at her side against those six that set a trap for her in the laundry she had lost it, but then she composed herself and crossed her arms under her breasts, like this…’
And Gina placed each hand right above the opposite elbow; but in the left hand the middle, index and thumb were raised (like a reinforced ‘L’, from ‘loser’?), while on her right hand… she was ‘flipping the bird’ at us? She smiled when she saw our faces.
‘It stands for I.L.I. (‘ailai’, ‘I lie’ or ‘I am lying’), and the lonely middle finger also gets the more common meaning. It was a way that she had told me she used to warn people that they had fell in a trap, but had to play along or… they would end up…’
‘****ed up beyond belief?’ – asked Sondra.
‘Or dead... So she warned me and went to her character, making some very necessary adjustments… ‘Oh, it’s you?’, and I tried to play dumb but she… ‘Don’t you even try! We spent six months in the same joint, you saved my life, babe (and she knew how I hated o be called that!), and I could recognize those black eyes of yours fairly easily!’, and she looked over her shoulder… ‘The girl knows nothing, and she is my ward for the next hour and a half. Promise me that she won’t get hurt and I won’t gonna stand in your way’, I agreed and she went to the kitchen, there she opened a closet and let the door wide open. ‘As you can see, there’s nothing inside this closet, and that is the only key to it, tie me up and lock me inside it and you won’t have any trouble to clean this place, as long as the girl doesn’t see you’, and she turned her back to me and crossed her hands behind her back.
As I did a quick job with the coil of rope I had brought with me, she asked me what was I doing since she had heard that I had retired, I told her that I was covering up for a guy that had have appendicitis and she said, ‘Hold on! It was a man that was supposed to rob this place? (…) This isn’t a simple burglary, is it?’, and I forced her to knee on the floor, gagged her with three wide strips of tape and answered her: ‘Ask your husband or boss when he shows up’ and checked the place, but pretended to forgot to check Mama-san’s body…’
‘She had a key of that closet with her?’ – asked Mary.
‘Or was it a blade?’ – asked Sondra.
‘Both, taped to her body in-between her breasts, she was out of the closet and talking to the security team that was recording everything that was happening in that house, minus the warning she gave me since (she knew it) in that point of the house the camera(s?) could only take the image of her back. While for me I took another peek at the girl, and she saw me and panicked. Ignoring her I saw that I had no options but expose me to the cameras, I could turn back and go back to the kitchen, ungag Mama-san and ask if there was any other way to go to the master bedroom that didn’t involved me passing in front of any camera (I supposed that she was already free, but I had no way of knowing that she actually was and had no reason to believe in that), but instead I grabbed the folded sheet of paper in the left back pocket of my trousers, read it once more, and stormed my way to the master bedroom. 19R-31L…-22R! I grabbed the documents and the DVD, spread them over the bed behind me and sorted the stuff I wanted, another quick exchange of looks with the brunette and I was out. The whole thing relied on the fact that they, whoever ‘they’ were, did not knew that I knew about them, so they had all the reasons to only show up AFTER I left the house.
About a year later Prudence showed up at my store, bought a few books and left this DVD behind, the whole footage of the secret cameras in that house… There were a total of eight guys ready to pounce on me if I deviated from the ‘script’ they hoped I would follow, but the model… Rena Knox, or something like that, didn’t know about them. She had signed a contract that gave her 30K for a few hours work in, what she believed, was a custom movie of her in various bondage situations and that stipulated quite clearly that no sex was to be involved in the making of the movie. What she didn’t read, those damned fine prints…, was that every single measure to ensure her safety could be made without her knowledge or consent, and that once bound thus she would stay for as long as the measures demanded…’
‘They left her bound?’ – asked Sondra.
‘For like an hour or two. The first thing they did was have one of them crouching by her side and showing her the fine prints, she obviously pleaded and disagreed but… she was no longer of their concern. They checked everything, twice, and then they took away all the cameras while Mama-san gave a full report on me, minus my new identity of course, and only after the last one left is that Mama-San started to undo the tight bondage, next she gave the girl a massage and (since Rena couldn’t stand firmly on her own legs), she carried her upstairs, where she gave Rena a bath, another massage and, after she (Rena) tried to escape… another tight wrapping! Oh, she left her over the bed, a big comfy and fluffy one and all that, but she was also… they call it the ‘Eiffel Tower position’ (I think), for another couple of hours as Mama-san made some phone calls. Even another (this time a quick one) massage, ankles and wrists bound and she carried her to the kitchen, where a good and hot dinner was awaiting them. During it Rena received some treats, an ‘emergency’ phone number and an extra 20K for her silence… She took it all.’
‘And if she hadn’t agreed with that?’
‘Well, honestly I don’t know, Charity, but I believe that she would have to disappear for at least a week, that’s how long it took for the events of that day to produce their expected effects, and that Mama-san would have jumped on her right away. But, as it turns out, she kept her mouth shut and… (…)?... Forget it… That’s not important and it’s unrelated to the story anyway. Back at me? Well, after I left the place I walked down the street a couple of blocks and there was Prudence and her cab to pick me and take me away. She drove me home and made impossible little of my warnings that the whole thing had been a trap, that the documents were probably fake, that Company ‘B’ knew about her and her brother and all that. And you know what her answer was? ‘Sorry, babe(!), but we couldn’t afford you to know the whole truth. Of course this stuff here is worthless!’, and as I became increasingly flabbergasted, enraged and mad at her you know what she did? She made me a question! ‘Who said ‘Don’t get mad, get everything’ to Diane Keaton and Bette Midler?’
‘Ivana Trump in ‘The First Wives Club’!’ – Answered Sondra and Hannah, our resident cinemaniacs, and then we all got the same idea…
‘Thomas was, at the time, a closeted gay man. But many people knew about his sexuality. Now imagine the scene, the guys from company ‘A’ really needed that data for something very important, or they would lose millions! And the data that the ‘specialist’ they hired provides to them is bogus, a clever made one but fake anyway, so they would go and question the ‘specialist’ about how and where he got that data, and the story he would tell them… A Japanese citizen (that supposedly was expelled from the US after she served her sentence) tying up a famous bondage/fetish model for the ‘sexual pleasure’… of a gay man? Not to mention that, somehow, Gabriel’s ex-wife managed to make some proofs that Rena was in Atlantic City at that very time! It would destroy Gabriel’s reputation!’
‘Forget it. I don’t know how they learned about the ex-wife’s plan against him. He just did the obvious in that situation; he pretended to fall for it. But two days later, somehow and somewhere and with the help of who-knows-whom (supposing that it was a solo act), Prudence got the real data in her hands, real clean job with no evidence and no bound and gagged (or dead) witness(es) left behind, and when the company ‘B’ was certain that the data presented by the company ‘A’ was false, I think it had something to do with a trial, they got quite the surprise… and the ex-wife’s reputation was crushed!’
‘Did she deserve it?’ – asked Mary.
‘Who knows… (?), somebody…?’ – She asked and both I and Charity gave our (really bad) impressions about that Chinese ************ self-proclaimed Empress of the World!
‘And what about Mama-san? What was she doing there?’ - I asked.
‘Well, girls, honestly I don’t know. That was the last time I saw her in the flesh, but I learned that she returned to the USA like a day (or even less) after she was deported, and lived here under an alias for about seven to eight years, before she returned for good to Japan. How she was contacted and hired by the ex, and why, to do her part in the story...’
‘But you…? How did you felt after all that?’ – asked Fay.
‘I got mad, at first, that they had used me to be the goat of their ‘goat strategy’ against the ex-Ms. Li. But Prudence slipped an extra ten grand… oh yeah, I was forgetting… You know why, of all the models available, Rena was chosen to be part of the scheme?’
‘Because Gabriel is her biggest fan?’ – All eyes converged to me while I gave a mean look at Gina, she was talking too much! But at least she got the message…
How we three knew that is not a story that we can tell around, even to this day.
‘Gabriel is… into… that?’
Gina, Charity and I nodded. And then it was my turn. I pretended not to notice when Fay slipped her hands (and her cellphone) under the table or the exchange of looks between Hannah and Dora, or between the waitresses and the manager of the place… even them?
‘You know… my story also starts, for me, with a phone call. But it was early morning and I had no intention of ‘retiring’… ever! You’re only 26 once… Anyway, it had been a long night, I partied until past 4 AM in that great jazz club, flirted a little with some nice looking guys but I slept alone... and all I wanted was sleep till noon, at least. But by 9:30 the phone rang and I, more asleep than awake, grabbed it and… ‘SSSSHEI----LA!!!!’’
Did that take them by surprise!
‘I was about to close the call, with or without saying a few words… when she continued: ‘Sheila my dear!!! Hello? Are you there? I can hear you breathing, doll… and I know that you ‘might’ still be mad at me, but please, Sheila, talk to me, to your old pal Leela…’
‘Leela????’ – asked three of them at once, and I saw the manager of the place got desperate with the possibility of them not closing on time once more…
‘Leela? As in Leela ‘Cinnamon’ Crews?’ – asked Charity.
‘Who else? And let me tell you one thing, although she took quite the protagonist part of the story I’m about to tell, not once did she fire a single shot!’
That was too much for them! A story with Cinnamon, in which she takes the main lead, and she doesn’t shoot a couple of rounds? That was a one in a million!
You don’t believe in me? (…) You like soccer, don’t you?
There’s this story I was told, about how Pelé once won a championship with his team, the Saints… San-tos, okay, with the Santos, with him as the goalkeeper? Is it true?
It is???!!! Oh, it was a semi-final? Really?
Well, then you can understand what it meant a story with the greatest sniper we had ever heard of or met, and in this one she never shot a bullet but still won the day…
It’s the same thing.
‘When she told me her name I woke up, and recognized the voice, and the conversation went like that: ‘You know that I don’t like to wake up early…’, ‘Not even for half a grand?’, ‘500 bucks? For what?’, ‘Oh come on Sheila, what else would I call you for? A painting, I want you to take a good look at a painting I am seeing as we speak! Could you please wake up already?’’ and that’s when I realized WHO was the ‘Sheila’ she wanted me to be ‘‘Okay, sorry, where are you babe?’ and she gave the address and I hung up. And after I got some ‘decent’, businesswoman-like, clothes on me, I went to search for Sheila Danes’ business card… Oh come on guys! I told you, more than once, that I used to keep with me as many business cards as I could, whether I got them the usual way or during a job, I kept them just in case I needed to pass for somebody else (who happened to have lost her wallet of course)… Remember now? It worked so many times!’
‘But it’s still a dumb idea for you to have collected so many proofs against yourself!’ – And I saw that Charity’s opinion was not alone at the table. If only they knew…
‘And this Sheila Danes????’ – Asked Hannah, but it was Mary who answered that.
‘She was one of those folks you hire to determine if a painting is the real thing or a fake, and took part in a scam to sell real good forgeries to rich dudes and dudettes… until they tried to sell some ‘Italian Renaissance’ stuff to this rich Italian woman…’
‘Who happened to be a redhead that doesn’t like that people talk about how reddish is her hair or how she is the last of her line? (…) The Duchess?’ – asked Dora, to which me and Mary nodded and the others just rolled their eyes…
It had happened back when no one, outside her organization and the Europol, knew the truth about her, so it was fairly possible that some poor ***** up idiot could make such a stupid act! Still... people should know better... and learn more about their intended targets.
‘Believe it or not, the Duchess ended up hiring her, but for what I don’t know…’
‘Can I get back to my tale now, Mary? Thank you… So I arrived there, a butler opened the door and a pretty young maid led me to this room, where Cinnamon, wearing (for a change) somber clothes introduced me to this dame, her three sons and a pair of granddaughters, all whitey snobs who didn’t bothered to show me how they felt for not treat me as… and then we all went to the dining room where there was this BIG painting… like 7’ tall for 16’ of length, and it depicted a wedding party in a small village during the XVIII Century, ‘The Burgomaster’s Wedding’ or something like that, really unknown stuff but worth like a quarter of a million or more. And Cinnamon just asks me ‘What can you tell us about this painting, Sheila?’… Me! Can you believe in it? But… Pretending to know what I was doing, I started to take a closer look at the painting… And that’s when I spotted it…’
Honestly, that couldn’t have happened in a better moment!
THAT’s when four cellphones started to ring at the same time!
Fay grabbed her cellphone but, I confess I had to be a bit rough and forceful for that, I pried it from her fingers, and with all the other eyes in the almost empty room aimed at me...
‘Hello, Carl, yeah... it’s me... yeah... No, no you can’t speak to your wife... Because I know Carl, I know okay? (…)? I know that right now you are taking a quick stop to your poker game with Tyrone, Collins and Farrell and all of you phoned a ‘friend’ of mine, with whom I am sharing a table at the moment you know where, just so they could have a hypothetical conversation with who knows who, and have a suitable excuse to leave this table right now... Yeah, and I also know than in less than a minute you were going to call Charity’s phone for the same reason, and that in two minutes I am to be alone in this table... with no one to listen to my story... I don’t have SAS! There is no such a ‘disease’! Your wife will call you in a moment, don’t worry... No ! Won’t do that! (...) Just make sure that you and the others don’t make that useless second call... Please? Thank you... Bye, Carl.’
And I returned the phone to my cousin, grinning like a killer maniac from a cheap Japanese anime, as she and the others wanted to understand what had just happened...
‘What just happened?’ - asked Hannah.
‘Please ladies... You really shouldn’t have tried to put me on guard, fearing the worst, losing my sleep over Fay’s mysterious phone call, and your silence, or whatever... Bad move from your part, I took precautions, which allowed me to learn about your prank...’
‘And now...?’ - asked Mary.
‘Well... I don’t any obligations to finish a story that you were about to leave me alone telling it to the wind, have I?’ - So I stood up – ‘But I also have no obligations to ever tell that story again... so the one who doesn’t show up at my home in thirty, at most... will have to hear it secondhand...’ – And since I am evil sometimes – ‘By the way… I should mention that, per her instruction, about three hours after I discovered that the painting was fake, I tied up and gagged, very tight, the one and only Cinnamon as she wore only her undies?’
And I went to the cashier pay my tab, Fay and Mary (‘cursing me’ all along) were close behind and the others took a while to capitulate...
Hey, we do play pranks on each other! And sometimes..., sometimes the target of the prank manages to do what I had just done, prank the prankster(s) on the act of pranking!
I was, more than once, on the side who ends up having to wonder; ‘how did she/they knew?’, but tonight I was on the vain ‘victorious’ side...
One interesting thing was that Fay gave Irma a ride to my home, and while en route she managed to find out who was the ‘mysterious woman’ who had ‘taken care’ of Irma, and apparently spanked her a lot for no reason (she never gave us the details...), with a simple test. She placed the palm of her right hand against Irma’s left one and asked if the hand of the ‘mysterious woman’ was bigger or smaller than hers (Fay is quite tall, remember?).
It was ‘bigger’...
A woman that was taller than Fay, who had dated Tombstone (or at least was a regular at his farm) more or less at the same time Lord Jones got his revenge (one month, or more, before Fay became ‘Goldilocks’) and who was also strong enough to carry from (and back to) the ‘barn’, during the three bath breaks of her captivity, the nude and bound body of Irma without too much effort from her part? Martha ‘The Hammer’ Peyton!
Oh come on!
Okay, long story short, once upon a time there was this gal who pole danced at Moe’s called Tina (Irving) Stan(ley), she was a dead ringer to ******* *********, which of course brought Moe an extra clientele until the lawyers of Ms. ********* showed up and paid a ton of money to her to find a new job (she’s a dentist nowadays). But, at the same time, Tina was stalked by this loser who threatened her with letters and the usual, and Moe (in need of protecting such an attraction as Tina) hired this giantess bodybuilder, ‘The (Peyton) Hammer’. In fact, it was ‘The Hammer’ who helped the police to arrest the creep.
Anyway, Martha met Tombstone and sparks flied... for like a semester. She was his last girlfriend before he started to date the girls of Moe’s. Then she met this guy that was half the size of Tombstone, and a third of his body mass, and who also shared many of her kinky fantasies…, they got married... and died together in a car crash five years later...
Thus Irma spent over a decade hating a woman that was already dead! She coped with it, eventually, but because of that she was the only one not present when I resumed my tale with the others, she had her mind way elsewhere, looking like kids wanting to know how the magician just pulled this or that trick, surrounding me as I sat on the couch.
‘Alright... I told you that the painting was big, and it depicted a wedding party. At its center the mister and his missus, still in her wedding dress, some authorities and lots of folks partying or working so the others could do it. And, at a the left of the painting, just two or three inches from the frame... a pair of guys were arriving to the party, as fashionably dressed as the other guests, but one of them brought his own beverage... in a six pack ring.’
‘It was a fake?’ - asked Gina.
‘Oh yeah, totally false, an image that was less than my own thumb tall, but that proved that the whole painting was a DeMirlo’s...’
‘A WHAT?’- asked four of them a bit too loud...
‘Roger Fiorello DeMirlo is a restorer that is used to paint ‘copies’ of paintings for insurance companies and private owners, for various reasons but the main one is to allow the public display of a painting while the ‘real deal’ lies locked safely somewhere else...’
‘Thank you, Sondra, the fact is that the guy was/is an accomplished forger, and since he is totally abstemious when it come to alcohol, and his dad (with whom he doesn’t/didn’t got along well) simply hates Budweiser... his signature is to put some Budweiser cans in any painting he ‘reproduces’. So I saw the six-pack ring and, while pointing at it, said out loud ‘Ah, a DeMirlo!’ as I turned to my hostess and Cinnamon, and the look in their faces... So I knew who the guy was, and after a quick exchange of cryptic words... ‘We must tell her’, ‘No we don’t!’, ‘But she’s the one that can help us! Help Sylvia!’, ‘No!’... And I was led to an adjacent room where there was this TV and a VCR, they put a tape in the VCR and... The image was dark, really dark and suddenly somebody turned on the lone bulb of the room, which dangled about seven feet above the bare mattress on which this girl with pink hair struggled against her bonds. As the camera approached the girl, who was wearing only her white panties (aside lots of hemp rope and the black electrician tape covering the lower half of her face), a synthesized male voice came out...
‘One hundred thousand dollars... You have a week to get the money, or you’ll never see her again!’. Lights out when the camera is in an extreme close-up of the gagged face and Cinnamon turns to me and is bluntly direct: ‘Do you know any thief you can call... right now?’, the way she spoke and behaved made me realize that she was pretending to be ‘just’ Leela, so I tried to deny that I knew one and the old lady interfered and told me the ‘truth’... and she was such a bad actress!’
‘How so?’ - asked Mary.
‘She talked like she cared about the short & pink haired girl, but her eyes kept saying me ‘She deserves it!’ and ‘Who cares about that ****?’, and that in spite of looking like ‘rich’ people the whole family was nearly flat broke. The paintings and everything else in the whole estate, and in her son’s houses, were not the real deal and if the kidnappers knew about it... Sylvia’s goose would be cooked! So they needed a thief, to steal all that junk they had, so they could call the insurance company and get the money to save Sylvia...’
‘Of course... to save... they were involved in the kidnapping?’ - said/asked Hannah.
‘There was a kidnapping, was there?’ - asked Mary.
‘Calm down you two... Yes there was a kidnapping and yes they were the ones behind it, but let me tell it as it happened, OK? No shortcuts! After a while I decided to know what was really going on, so I said that I could call this guy... but he probably would demand a car as part of the payment, we talked a little more about ‘Big Dave’...’
‘Who?’ - asked Mary, Fay and Gina, and then they realized that he didn’t exist...
‘And minutes later I was back at the wheel of my car, and Cinnamon was in the passenger seat, and we were being followed by a car as soon as we crossed the gates of the manor... I mentioned the blue Toyota to Cinnamon and she just said: ‘It’s probably Carolyn, the maid who is also the twin sister of Georgia, the other maid of the place we just left...’, and then I asked her if she could fill me in with what was going on...’
Dramatic pause to drink a sip of iced tea! Many curses and cussing later...
‘And she just says: ‘My graduation as the Idiot of the Year...’ and tells me the whole story. The family had been spending more than they make for the past three decades, at least, and started to have financial troubles to which they answered with an insurance fraud scam... But in spite of all being crooks and soulless *************, there’s always... How I HATE that expression!... a ‘black sheep’ in any and every family. In this case, it was Sylvia who, at 15, managed to foil their plans without revealing them (her family’s plans) to the many authorities that ended up involved in their ruse... and five years later they decided to get rid of her, and smear her name and the one belonging to anyone of her relationships they decided to use in their plans as well, and get some cash in the process. How will they do it?
They managed to blackmail somebody who worked at the insurance company who had them as their client, and the date of the annual ‘surprise’ visit of the company’s appraiser was leaked to them with nearly a month of time for them to make the many copies, some much better than most of the others, disappear and collect the premium. At the same time they learned that Sylvia’s latest girlfriend was a black woman with a juvenile sealed record; so why not finally make the ‘bratty nuisance (as she was called by her family) go away’, and implicate the n***** in her death? And then I made the obvious question... ‘If you know that much, how come they are still alive?’, and do you know what she told me?’
Although half of them suspected what the answer was, they all kept their mouths shut.
‘I only found out it all AFTER I saw them..., after I let them kidnap Sylvia!’... (…) It’s not an unusual situation for Cinnamon, since no one is suicidal enough to mess with her family, there’s only one way to force her to do whatever she don’t want to, through her chicks... Remember San Diego, 1998? Or Dallas, 2011? Even in Europe, in a small French town, it did happen in 2005!!! But sometimes, well, sometimes the girls fake it... maybe they see the flame waning and try to reignite it by playing the damsel in distress targeted by unknown (and imaginary) enemies of Cinnamon, maybe they just want to add some spice... maybe they just watch too much TV!!! Who knows?
She told me that it wasn’t the first time that one of her girls would pretend that she had been kidnapped, then force her to a wild goose chase that would end up at a very remote place... where the girl would be waiting to be ‘rescued’ and, of course, to ‘reward’ Cinnamon for her actions. It seems to be a fantasy of hers, that she played more than once and with willing kidnapper(s) and kidnapee(s), and the girl in case would try to make it ‘for real’ for once. After a weird incident with a chick from Alabama (about which she didn’t give me more than that), she decided to, at least, check on the girls before she left them for good while they waited to be rescued... And apparently, Sylvia tried that ruse with horrible results…’
‘And it did happen ‘for real’ with her?’
‘Yes... Since it happened ‘a dozen times before’, Cinnamon could recognize the signs that it was about to happen once more. So she... hey... she confessed to me like a dam bursting with no Superman around to stop it from happening, once I made the first question it all came in a flood. And before anyone of you ask, she knows about our meetings and she knows that, sooner or later, this story would show up... and she’s fine with that...’
‘As long as we don’t ‘add’ anything to the story to whoever we repeat it to?’ - asked Gina.
‘Exactly... it’s not like tomorrow one of us will go to Moe’s or The Buzz and start yelling at the top of her lungs what she just heard today, but Fay will most likely talk with Carl about Irma, Mary will say something to Phil... And as... bad as she feels about some parts of the story, she’s okay with me talking about it and with you talking about it too...’
They all say ‘Got it’, ‘Fine’ and other phrases to make sure that they understood…
‘Anyway… she bugged Sylvia’s phones, and thus she learned that Sylvia was going to make a mess in her own apartment and then ride to the manor I had just left, next her cousin Veronique would introduce her to ‘Detroit’ who would be her jailer for the next week… or until Cinnamon managed to find her. She, somehow, knew about the others that had tried that one on Cinnamon, so she demanded that things were… more realistic with her… And her cousin, and her family, couldn’t want it more! If Cinnamon had bothered to bug V’s phone as well, she never ever would have acted the way she did! So, on the night when the kidnapping was supposed to happen she had it all planned, go to that spot on the road we were traveling at the moment and aim her night vision aim at the parking area of the manor, see Sylvia being taken to her captivity, wave her goodbye forever and spend the night with three or four babes… She’s Cinnamon, remember?... And I remember asking her ‘Why?’ when she told me about the goggles… Her answer: ‘My vision may be very good when it comes to distance and focus, but not that good, especially at night!’… anyway, on the night of the ‘kidnapping’ she went to the spot of the road, on the hill facing the one where the manor of Sylvia’s family is located, got her night vision, made herself cozy… and saw a half naked Sylvia struggling, for real, in between two guys she had never seen before. She wished she had brought one of her rifles, that she had seen the signs properly…’
‘Come again?’ – asked Sondra.
‘The front door of the manor opens and there comes Sylvia, two nondescript guys dressed like salesmen having a lot of effort to hold her and behind them… Veronique, smiling like a maniac as she waved goodbye at Sylvia! And behind her comes her father, and this guy that looks like a racist preacher, dressed in white from head to toe and a chilling expression in his ‘righteous’ Quaker-like bearded face, and they talked and talked and shook their hands, and Veronique and her dad went back to the manor as the guy went to the other car parked in front of the manor, behind the van in which Sylvia and the goons had disappeared into. Cinnamon jumps in her car, but they took a shortcut she didn’t know about until that night (the distance between the point she was and the manor is, by road, a little below 6 miles), and they disappear… she goes to Sylvia’s apartment searching for clues and it’s clean… as in the furniture is there, but no piece of clothing whatsoever, personal documents and the likes, nothing that could indicate that Sylvia was actually living there...
That night she used all she had on self-control to not invade the manor and ‘pry’ by any means available the info of Sylvia’s whereabouts from any still living member of the family… And all because, since she can read lips, she saw the preacher asking to Sylvia’s uncle: ‘And for how long am I supposed to… (something she didn’t read clearly)… her?’, ‘Bring her back to us in six days…’ was the answer. It all had happened three nights before, and ever since she had but planned and getting herself ready. All phone lines (landlines since it happened in the second half of the 90’s)? Bugged. Hackers to tear up the whole financial life, every single phone call made in the last six months and the list of all known friends and acquaintances of each and every single member of that family? Hired, all five of them. P.I.(s) to track down anything he/she could find about Sylvia’s kidnapper having as a starting point the plates of the two vehicles? Bud & Lou Cimino, hired. She came with a plan to make them all pay… and then came up front the unpredictable human element…’
‘Charity, guys, I was not supposed to have been involved, but I ended up because she went there pretending to learn anything, and they showed her the video that had just arrived. As she made mental notes to check on the ‘eyes’ she had aimed at the house, Luke something, and learn what he could tell her about the arrival of that VHS, she found herself embroiled in a discussion about how they could pay the ransom if they had no money at all? She already knew that most of the stuff she saw there was fake or made in Hong Kong, but when she was asked if she didn’t knew anyone who could, perhaps…, steal the painting… she took a closer look at it, and saw the six-pack.
Can you believe that none of them had ever found it in the painting, aside from the old dame who had bought it from DeMirlo? So they had but two options, find somebody who was dumb enough to steal the painting or find someone who would steal it even knowing it was fake! The whole thing depended on somebody, totally unrelated to that bunch of worms (so they could fool the insurance company), going there and cleaning the place of its (still) insured material (that had been already sold)! So there she was, being pressed by those fake tears and concern about Sylvia’s fate, and unable to punch those ****** as she wanted so much, and she needed to come up with somebody that could do the dirty work for them...’
‘And it was you because...?’
‘She knew that I knew about DeMirlo... I can’t tell you that one, yet, but she knew that I knew him very well and his work, so... She had it all planned and we spent the rest of the ride with she filling me in of her plans, that were already in motion, and discussing my bill... Well, she wanted to pay me and I wanted to have her owing me one, and after a long conversation she agreed with my proposal, but in the end she did pay me... I’ll get there. The fact was that she was cashing all the favors this guys and that other and that another was owing her, and she must have emptied two or three of her accounts, ‘no expense is too high’ was her policy. So where do you think did I park my car?’
They all made their bets, and it was Gina who got it right.
‘The Black Regent?’ - asked Fay as she obviously tried to remember where she had heard about it, we let her think for a while but in the end she shook her shoulders in defeat...
‘Thaddeus Janssen, remember him?’
...And then she let out a sound sailor curse! He’s almost forgotten nowadays, but at one time he posed as the owner of a 20 stories hotel called ‘The Black Regent’ in ***********, downtown L.A., while he was the head of a major ‘creative export & import’ business (smuggling, if you didn’t caught my lead). It was an almost legit business, famous for its restaurant and for, while not being one of the best in town, it was good enough for traveling businessman that hadn’t ‘that much’ in their wallets... but it was also his headquarter.
Today it’s the same stuff, an hotel, but its totally clean.
‘For a little favor she had done to him one or two years before, Tad owed her big time. So he agreed to let her use a whole floor of the hotel as her ‘base’. She told me to pretend that I was in charge, and since Carolyn couldn’t hear us she did all the talking but I did all the gesturing when we talked to the manager. She identified Carolyn to Maurice, the security chief of the BR, and told him that she wasn’t supposed to leave the hotel no matter what, but she would phone him in a few minutes giving him the instructions on how to deal with her. We went upstairs and the whole 11th floor was hers, and in one of the rooms were these geeks with their top of art (at the time) computers and too many cables for me, and they gave her the worst news possible. They had identified the ‘preacher’, and the guy actually believed that he was one and that he was doing ‘God’s will’...’
‘The ‘gay cure’?’ - asked Sondra.
‘His own version... basically they forced her to watch tons of porn, nasty to horrible stuff, while they tried some ‘Clockwork Orange’ brainwashing on her... She turned red right in front of me and promised the (now very scared) Geek-in-charge ‘the triple’ if they zeroed the address of where they were holding Sylvia in three hours.
She went to a room and locked herself inside it, while I was ‘escorted’ (by a tall guy I had never seen in my life) to another room, I heard something crashing and minutes later she went to me. She was barely holding herself but she did pass a ‘pro’ look, and gave me a sheet of paper and a pen and told me to write: ‘You idiot! Dave is thinking that you are a cop or a fed! Stay put until he comes to you! Sheila’ and in a minute Carolyn, the exact copy of the maid I had seen about an hour before (but wearing Plain Jane clothes), was reading it as we saw her... she had access to the video feed of the security cameras!... A lot of phone calls later, as I stood in front of the window and pretending to enjoy the view, and Cinnamon nodded to the man (never knew his name, but I’m sure it wasn’t ‘Dave’) who went to the entrance hall and met with Carolyn. He wasn’t really intimidating, just big, but she got nervous instantly.
A little chatting and he convinced her to come upstairs, but first he stopped by the receptionist and told him that ‘no more than two’ of his buddies would drop by between five and six, and that when it happened he was to be called no matter what. And off they went to the elevator and, between the 5th and 6th floor the lift stopped for about two minutes, then it was back in motion and stopped on the 11th floor. And by then the raven haired girl was now tape-gagged and ziptied into submission, from above her breasts to her ankles about a dozen and a half times!, since the whole floor was under Cinnamon’s orders he simply made her hop into the hallway, forced her to knee and took five minutes to reduce her into a tight package: legs folded, hogtied, arms and torso zipped together, you name it... She was a package now, a very frightened one, and he wasn’t over! He then reinforced her gag and carried her to the room where I, ‘his boss’ was waiting after I had just finished to cinch the last knot on my captive’s near naked body. Cinnamon hates to be tied up, but she was quite passive as I wrapped her up in rope, after she took off all of her clothes and stood in front of me with only her panties on.
So you can imagine Carolyn’s surprise when she saw who was sharing a bed with her! Her eyes BULGED! And then I was by their side, towering them and saying stuff like: ‘Big Dave was my dad’, ‘He had a huge reputation but mine is bigger’, ‘You both will stay put while I do my business’ and such, and then I grabbed a Polaroid, aimed at them and took a couple of pictures...’
‘You...’ - started Charity.
‘Took a picture...’ - continued Gina and Fay.
‘Of Cinnamon...’ - added Dora.
‘The Cinnamon (!)...’ - emphasized Hannah.
‘BOUND AND GAGGED??!!!’ - finished Mary and Sondra.
‘No, I just said that they were in two, and they were destroyed that very same day anyway. But after I took the pictures I looked ‘weirdly’ at them, and then I decided to blindfold them both and that ‘Dave’ was supposed to call ‘her’. But as soon as I locked the leather blindfold on Carolyn’s head, I started undoing Cinnamon’s bonds, then I turned around and was formally introduced to Cinnamon’s body double, Jessie something...’
‘Who?’ - asked Fay, but it was Charity who answered.
‘Remember when Cinnamon took out that scumbag in Detroit, in 2004, and was seen at the same time in the background of a local protest in Miami being shown on TV? In all her years on activity she must have used like a dozen of them, some are not very lookalike her, from the neck up, but others can, even at a short distance, pass for Cinnamon.’
‘Jessie was of the first group, her father was of very mixed ancestry while her mother was from one of those small ethnic groups in Southern Asia, her face was pretty but I’d never ever have mistaken her for Cinnamon. But her body, from her shoulders down to her toes... a perfect match! And the one that was supposed to believe that she was Cinnamon was already blindfolded... Thus... I freed Cinnamon and she made sure that they were unable to detach one from the other, like two tightly tied human salamis wrapped together in rope, and put on some clothes before she left that bedroom.
The ‘geek-in-charge’ had an address for her, but it was in Montana. So she grabbed the phone and talked to somebody, I left the room at that point and waited outside (in the hallway) with ‘Dave’, as she called someone who was there or had influence over people who worked there. Ten minutes later she called us and said that we knew our pieces, and that she was going to take a plane to Montana while we played them. In the next thirty minutes she made a lot of phone calls, welcomed a 50-something fat dame who became in charge of the well being of both captives, paid the geeks who were told to ‘do it’ when she told them to (but they were supposed to not be even be in California when they did that, so they all took two cabs for the airport right away), gave me and ‘Dave’ our final instructions and left. By the time she reached Helena... that’s the name of Montana’s capital. By the time she got there it was already over, and all that she did was use a baseball bat on the preacher before she drove Sylvia to a ‘safe place’. I never got the name of who she called and who were the dudes and dudettes that stormed the estate used by those fanatics for their ‘cure processes’, just that they were locals...’
‘And you never had been in Montana?’
‘A half dozen times, Charity! But it’s not the stuff you ask around... although I am almost sure that this ‘Willy Teal’ was part of the team. In one of the times I went there I worked with him, and while we were waiting for the day of the job to arrive we went to this sports bar to watch a baseball game. Before the game there was this breaking news about an escape attempt of the ‘infamous’ ‘Preacher Rex...’, his ‘freedom’ didn’t last half an hour (!), and they showed images of how he was found by the police, after the raid ordered by Cinnamon... at that point Willy sneered... the kind of sneer that gave you away...’
‘But how could they be able, even being already in Montana, to strike at whatever was the place where Sylvia was being held with so little time to plan?’ - asked Sondra as the others nodded, to our surprise it was Mary who answered that...
‘I know that one! I am recognizing the tale you’re telling us as the last job Cinnamon did before her seven months retirement in the middle of the 90’s, right?’ - I nodded – ‘No one ever knew the real reasons for her doing that, and thanks to you I am finally having that question answered (am I?), but once I met this guy... Jimmy ‘The Dude Abides’ Carlin... and we talked about people we knew and he told me that he knew Cinnamon since the day she sent him, and like half a dozen or more real muscle-bound Rambos-for-hire (he was a transporter), to Montana to rescue some chick she loved that was being ‘reprogrammed’ to stop being a lesbian, they went there with seven possible addresses for the place she was being held. Two of the guys, and Jimmy, spent the first day checking all of them, and took three out of the list while waiting for more info from Cinnamon.
One of the Rambos was also a military strategist and, with the official blueprints of the remaining four addresses in hand, thanks to some guy that broke in the proper places and delivered them in person in the very early hours of the second day of their stay in Montana, he plotted the proper plans of attack on those places. When came the info that she was being held in the 2nd address on the list they set up a commando strike operation in less than one hour, and three hours (and zero fatal causalities) later he passed the baseball bat to Cinnamon as she told everybody to leave her alone with ‘Preacher Rex’ and three of his most faithful followers...’
‘She needed a baseball... bat to deal with...(?) The bat was for them?’ - asked Fay to Mary, who nodded before turning her gaze to me, and so I picked the story from where I had left.
‘Anyway, Willy knew a lot more than he told me, and the bastard admitted it!, but he told me that Cinnamon beat up those four ********* all by herself and then grabbed a bike and drove to where Sylvia was sent. The bike was of one of the ************* and she drove it through three states! But I am getting ahead of myself... I returned to the manor with a couple of friends, Athena Washington and her little sister Lucinda, and the old dame was all ‘Have you seen him?’ and ‘Have you talked to him?’, until I gave her the Polaroids. ‘There is no Big Dave, just me, and the real Sheila Danes is a whitey chick’ I told her as the blood disappeared from her face. I told her that I had thoroughly checked her (and her family’s) financial situation as I ‘interrogated’ my ‘way too talkative friend Leela’ and the spy she had sent after us, and that me and my gals were there to check if there was anything in the place worth stealing ‘for real’ if she wanted me to take her junk. I did all to make it look like ‘Leela’ was but a gal I had met a lifetime before, and had parted ways since I had gone deeper into the ‘vice road’ while she went back to the ‘virtuous’ one...’
‘And she, I mean, the old dame and the others beings of her family... Did they buy it...?’
‘They couldn’t care less about the lesbian lover of their… white sheep! Or for the fate of their maid! I could do whatever I wanted to with them both! (…) As long as I stole what they needed me to steal! So off I went, around the house with Athena, to check on what was the real deal and what was not and what I was supposed to ‘remove from the premises’. Lucinda went to the garage and found out that three of the cars had become furniture since some of their parts had been removed, probably to be sold to other collectors as spare parts. But all five cars were insured and I was supposed to take them too. After the Washingtons and I came up with two BIG lists, we developed a plan.
The old dame and her sons would all provide alibis for them for that night. A dinner with old friends, a meeting at a club and so on… save for one of the granddaughters, Veronique, who was supposed to have ‘one hell of a headache!’ and would be, along with Georgia, the witnesses to the ‘major heist’ that they would become victims of that night... The girl asked if that meant that she was to be ‘bound like a reel’ and I said ‘Yes’ and she started to protest, vehemently, until the old... what was her name? (…) Her name... I can’t recall the old hag’s name! Anyway, the old dame told her to shut up and that she would get a ‘good chunk’ of the insurance money for her ‘sacrifice’. We made our last arrangements and me and the girls left... The ‘Black Regent’ was our base, so I spent the next hours there as ‘Dave’ made the last commands in his big cousin’s plans... I only found out that like ten years later, but I still don’t know his name!... and when the clock rang ‘8’ I was en route to that estate once more.
Two winch trucks and three vans (the stories about Cinnamon being flat broke when she ‘retired’ for seven months are true, she saw no expense too high for that ‘operation’, as she called it) were parked in front of the place by 9 PM and eight people, the Washington sisters were the only women among them (plus me), got out of them. Cinnamon had promised them 10K, plus whatever they managed to get for what they stole, and they all made true of their reputations of being professionals. ‘Cause as Lucinda and three guys went to the garage to take care of the cars, me and the others opened the front door, went to the front hall and there they were, the only people we were expecting to see at the place, Veronique and Georgia. And Georgia was behind Veronique, who was down to her bra and panties and tied to a chair facing us, holding a gun and pointing it at me! The guys and Athena pulled out their own guns, I told them to not shoot as I walked in their direction.
Georgia still tried to say something but I cut her short: ‘Look here you dumb **********!!! I am a thief and so are they! We don’t deal with kidnapping or slavery of any kind, never ever! Tomorrow or the day after it your sister will be talking to you about her incredibly boring experience of being my captive, probably frightening at first but after a few hours of ZERO activity... it always get boring as you will be able to testify to her too. Or she will be providing for your burial. Your call...’, and now I was right in front of the occupied chair, I can still recall how weird was the breathing of that girl, and Georgia’s gun was inches away from my face.’
‘And she?’ - asked Fay.
‘Was sitting in another chair, at Veronique’s left, not three minutes later. We, me and Athena, let her keep her uniform as we bound her, first standing and then to the chair, while the others were told to check if there was anybody else in the whole building. Or so our captives heard... In truth, they left a dozen cameras in very strategic places. But they didn’t know that and, when we were all gathered again with those anxious salamis facing us I told Veronique, ‘My gal here will help you supervise the removal of all your fakeries, and if you want to be found by the cops wearing something else she’ll help you...’, as I cut the tape holding her to that sturdy mahogany thing (that she was forced at gunpoint to move to that point of the hall), ‘...but for now I like what you’re wearing, including the gag...’, she tried to remove it but Athena’s firm grip prevented her from doing it, and so it was a gagged and dressed in a classy white underwear only girl that the cameras captured helping the men that, afterward, she claimed had looted her home against her will.
I blindfolded the maid, patted her head and, as they took care of the ‘fake’ list, I went to the library under the pretense that Georgia was to be found there. She didn’t try to run as I cut the ropes holding her legs together, so I just hogtied her over a desk there, next I reinforced the gag and the blindfold, all done with duct tape wrapped very tightly around her head. Earlier, I had seen something that had attracted my attention and while I had waited to return to that place I had made a research of my own. And what I was hoping to find there was exactly what I did found... part, actually a third, of Colonel Liddell’s collection...’
Ok, John C. Liddell was a colonel of the Confederate Army who was famous for the huge collection of very rare books that he kept at home. But when the Union troops showed up there they found a dozen empty bookshelves, and John C. Liddell had died long before that day. Until 1943 the fate of the books was unknown, until John’s great-grandniece found a map in a never-sent letter from him to his brother (her great-grandfather).
After a little digging in the hills she found preciosities like Robinson Crusoe’s first edition, and sold most of them to the big book collectors of her time, minus 23 that she was ‘very fond of’. In 1982 all those books were stolen and disappeared; becoming a legendary heist that no one ever claimed the credit for. Can I finish the History lesson? Back to the tale...
‘There were eight books, and they all had the ‘seal’ (his rather elaborate signature) of John Cornelius Liddell on them! I wrapped them carefully and put them in a box, which I carried to the van I would ride on. There were other rare books around, but they all seemed legit so I left them behind. We had to wait for the trucks to return, from wherever they were sent to by Lucinda, and in the meantime... Well, Cinnamon wanted to have some kind of revenge over Veronique in Sylvia’s name, thus... The guys took care of the (short) ‘legit’ list, and when they were all outside me and Athena stripped Veronique naked and left her over the dinner table, not in an ‘exposed’ way and we weren’t cruel or whatever as we did it...
That part of the hills is quite the desert one and no one saw us leaving (with the cameras). Two hours later Veronique’s uncle returned home, freed them and called the police... At about the same time this young reporter was assaulted at home, but instead of robbing her the two women (the Washingtons) who tied her up and gagged her left a pile of VHS tapes over her bed (and a note). It took her like twenty minutes to free herself from all that tape, but as soon as she looked at what had been recorded... Well, that’s the official version anyway…’
‘The ‘Official’ version?’ - asked Fay.
‘She was Lucinda’s best friend’s cousin, or girlfriend, or something like that... anyway, as I was waiting for the night to arrive I asked the guys if they knew a reliable reporter, Lucinda raised her hand and started to talk about this chick and how she was in need of a help to stop being the ‘slave’ of other reporters... not what you’re thinking... They made her pick their laundry, and coffee, and other menial jobs and she was always the last one who could get anything useful for that night’s edition... or the morning’s. So they visited her, she agreed to be taped up rather tightly but they waited for her to start to free herself, after a little show (that they cheered on) that she made to leave physical evidences that she was attacked in her bed and had to free herself in her kitchen...’
‘Physical evidences?’ - asked Hannah.
‘Yes... she had to hop all the way with her ankles taped together, and with those two sitting on the sofa and pretending to watch something on TV, but ready to help her if she made any miscalculation. She had tight tape marks on her arms and legs (she was wearing a bikini fashion underwear when she was ‘attacked’, well... no, but, according to Athena, she said ‘what the hell, IF I have to be a damsel in distress... let’s be one in style!’) and foot prints and other things to back up her story, so no one made a big fuss about how she got the tapes (no one cared actually) and she started to make her name...’
‘And you and your books?’
‘I got in touch with this guy that I met once, he was pretending to be a writer and I pretended to believe in him and in the end, he did not manage to recover what he was supposed to for the insurance company he worked for... Anyway, I knew his real name and found his address, and I went there, found his missus and, when he showed up like two hours later, he found her hog-cuffed in the buff in the bathtub and wearing a blue ballgag... (…) Theirs! Not mine, theirs! They had this BIG trunk filled with this kind of stuff under their bed, and she actually took her time choosing what she would be ‘wearing’! And over their bed was the least valuable of the books I had with me, and a note. It told him to be at an address the following day, alone and all that, and we had a quick dinner (he paid the bill) as we discussed how much I would get paid to hand him the other books, and tell him where I had found them. His company was after those books for quite a while and it took him a couple of years, but eventually he managed to make the collection complete again...’
‘And Cinnamon?’ - asked Mary.
‘She only showed up like a week later. I was the last or the before-the-last that she visited. She was a wreck. Sylvia was another but; at least, she was getting help. Five years later she was back to her ditzy self, and with a faithful (and domineering) wife to help her live in this world of ours. Back at that night, Cinnamon just wanted to retire, to leave ‘that life’... So she put an envelope with a key inside it and told me that it was my payment, that she felt sorry but she couldn’t and wouldn’t be in debt with me. I honestly thought that the conversation was the last that I would ever hear of her... She kissed my cheek and left...’
‘That ‘seven months retirement’ experience that she had before she started working for the Duchess?’ That was the cause? Really?’ - asked Mary, and I nodded.
‘And the key? To what it belonged to?’ - asked Gina.
‘To a locker downtown, inside it there was this sports-bag filled with tens and twenties, a gun and some phone numbers that I could use... Like ‘Cars’ written on top of a page and over a dozen names, addresses, fees and numbers under it. ‘Guns’, ‘Muscles’, ‘Hideouts’, ‘Alibis’ and others filled the other pages. I knew but less than a quarter of those people!’
‘But when she returned...’
‘Save for the girls (with bikini or bra & panties amateur pictures in sexy and sexier poses!) of the three-pages-long ‘Distractions’ list (I think that she was pranking me… or was she that down that she didn’t realized what she was doing?), I had met almost all the names on all the list, and used them sometimes... and then I am at Moe’s; she shows up, comes to me and asks: ‘My lists?’. My answer: ‘Useful, most of them...’ (She didn’t seem to realize what I meant with that). And she: ‘Are we even, then?’. And I: ‘If you want it, I do feel like I owe you twice... for a couple of names in those lists... at least’. And the next day I am helping her; simple stuff, tie up a couple, let them see who I am and not see her (or acknowledge her presence), and pretend to be robbing their place clean as she uses one of their house’s windows for the ‘job’ (whatever it was), ‘for free’ (I did burgle them); as she makes one of the three jobs that told the world that she was back... before she joined the Duchess’ organization. She’d only need me again, in a private matter, a couple of years later…’
‘And the lists?’ – asked Gina.
‘I copied the names I needed and gave them back to her a few days later, minus the ‘Distractions’ list, don’t get me wrong gals… I simply couldn’t find it anywhere!!!’
‘How so?’ – unlike the others, Fay seemed honestly curious about it.
‘So I got all those lists and all but this one are potentially useful, so what should I do? Guard all the ‘useful’ lists in that drawer and the lonely ‘unnecessary’ one there, under that pile of magazines over there. Then Cinnamon calls me and says ‘Can I have my lists back, please?’ and since I am no stupid to say ‘no’ I arrange a meeting and go grab the lists. The ones in the drawer are in the drawer, I copy names and addresses and put the lists over the table. ‘Oh, there that one too!’ And I go grab it under the pile of magazines and…’
And that’s when she did it, a coy smile… not a grin. If it was a grin I probably would have been really mad… but don’t worry, I just said (a bit too loud) ‘So it was you!!!’ and Charity confessed everything. Well, her friendship with Cinnamon had to have started somewhere and, honestly, I would have done the same. The great Cinnamon comes to me and says ‘I did a mistake and that gal over there has a list of some girls who are… connected to me. Can you bring me that list back?’, what else would I have said but ‘Of course!!!’?
And it was a clean job; I never suspected a thing until I went to look for the list.
Of course, it took a lot of talking from all the others (suddenly morphed into Charity’s legal aid team, while we drank some tea prepared by Fay) to convince me of that.
Only when Sondra said ‘Alright, you wanna get even with Charity? Do it!’ is that I relented (I found myself suddenly without any idea of what to do in my own home, a bit vexing…) and made peace with Charity as I promised to her that ‘it wasn’t over!’…
I can be so childish sometimes…
On a side note, when she returned that list (and the pictures) to Cinnamon there was an odd conversation between them as she counted the money she got as payment (500 bucks). ‘You took a peek at the pictures?’; ‘Yeah, had to in order to see if it was the right thing…’; ‘No judgment from your part?’; ‘Not my stuff, not my thing…’ – and then there was a silence that lasted like half a minute, and Charity said – ‘Just don’t have any wet dream with me, ok?’… To which Cinnamon answered: ‘Too late for that!’
After it we chatted about something, can’t remember exactly what, as they waited for their cabs. And, of course, they tried to pry from me how I had managed to learn that much about their plans… All to no avail, they would spend the next days chatting among themselves as they discussed dozens of different theories about it…
None came closer to the truth.
I bet you thought about some listening device or, maybe, a blind person (with a very good hearing) who happened to sit too close to our table before I arrived there?
Nope, but you almost got it with the second guess.
Chandelle is a nice gal that has just a little problem (I think it’s astigmatism) with her eyes, and an almost perfect ‘ear’. And Fay and Dora always arrive too early (more than half an hour) to our meetings, waiting for the others while they chat and drink ice tea in the bar (or the likes) of the place we chose for that night. So I gave Chandelle the address of the place and a good description of the girls, and she sat right next to them as she pretended to talk to some fella on the phone. When she had heard enough she left and went to her home, texted me everything she knew and told me to ‘get even with those rascals’.
Her payment was a daily bouquet of flowers to her home, for a whole month!
It was more than worth it…
The girls will return in ‘Mamma Nature Rules!’
The story about ‘Lord Jones’ may, eventually (read ten years), become a story…