This morning, I’m sharing Chapter 5, Part 11 of my story, “Garage Sale Addict”. If you’d like to catch up, here’s:
“Garage Sale Addict, Part 1“
“Garage Sale Addict, Part 2“
“Garage Sale Addict, Part 3“
“Garage Sale Addict-Part 4“
“Garage Sale Addict-Part 5“
“Garage Sale Addict-Part 6”
“Garage Sale Addict-Part 7”
“Garage Sale Addict-Part 8”
“Garage Sale Addict-Part 9“
“Garage Sale Addict-Part 10”
And, here is my disclaimer one more time…
Disclaimer: I am nervous about sharing this. Instead of me being able to use words like “crap” or my made up favorites like “goody-ness”, what I’m about to share will be held to a higher standard. Because it’s part of my hidden soul-my personal writing projects. Who knows if this will ever go anywhere-but it’s fun to write and to dream. I’d love to hear what you have to say, or maybe I won’t.
Chapter 5-Part 11
Bonnie chose the long route home, stopping and turning at every corner possible. She stopped at through a bank drive through without making a deposit, just to ensure no one was following her.
I may be paranoid, but I’m not stupid, she muttered to herself as she adjusted her rearview mirror. Finally, she arrived home and locked the door behind her. Slinking to the ground, her head was whirling with that afternoon’s incident. What has Ros gotten herself into?
Bonnie’s phone rang and she grabbed it immediately. The caller ID showed it was Micah.
“Did you get home ok?” Micah asked on the other end.
“Yes, I took a circuitous route and I don’t think I was followed. How about you?”
“I wasn’t as successful. One of the suits tailed me, but I stopped at a coffee shop to wait it out. He’s in here, trying to appear natural around all these granola kids. He ordered a black coffee and I think the barista about had a heart attack.” Micah snickered.
“What are you going to do?,” Bonnie asked.
“I’m about to confront the guy. What could he do to me in a public place? I thought I’d let you know, in case I end up missing. I’m at the coffee house on Main and 4th.”
“Copy, Eagle. Meadowlark has taken note of your whereabouts. Proceed with caution.” Bonnie allowed herself a little giggle.
“Meadowlark? Unusual code name-but at least I won’t forget it. I’ll touch base with you soon. Over and out.”
They both hung up. Bonnie was so exhilarated with the cat and mouse game, she decided to write down everything that had happened up until now. Maybe seeing it in black and white would help her to make sense of it all. She started with the first garage sale, and soon moved on to the second and third sales. She categorized sightings of the “Suits”, conversation with Tibar and any other detail she could think of.
After all her plotting and sketching, it still didn’t make sense. There should be no reason for Rosalyn to be under scrutiny. She wondered aloud, “Ros, what are you really involved with?” Her house answered back with only silence.
Ros jerked awake to nothingness in the cold, cement room. The steel chair had become one with her and she stood up to rub at her low back. She paced the room, trying the door for what seemed liked the one hundredth time. Running her fingers along the grout lines between the cement block, she counted the indentions from one block to the next. She began to sing one of her favorite radio songs softly, then louder when there was no reprimand. For some reason, the top 40 hit began to make her cry.
“Sit down and be quiet!” The voice was back, but Rosalyn ignored the command and continued to the next wall, singing and counting blocks. She felt like a crazed idiot.
“I said to sit down!”
“No.” Rosalyn broke from her song to stare directly at the smoky glass and shout out her response. “Look, I’m tired, cold, hungry and honestly a bit ticked off. If you expect anything more out of me, you are sadly mistaken. I’m done. Stick bamboo shoots under my nails, I don’t care.” She lied about that last part, but it made her feel tough.
“Ms. Jones, have a seat. That is a direct order.” The voice said calmly.
“Make me.” She felt like a second grader.
“I wish you hadn’t said that.” The microphone cut out and the door to the room swung open abruptly. Three men entered the room, grabbed her arms and shoved her back into the steel chair. Her wrists were zip-tied around her back before she even knew what was happening.
Rosalyn pouted, letting her chin drop to her chest. One of the suits lifted up her chin and stared directly into her eyes. He actually seemed kind-with laugh lines around his eyes and salt and pepper hair just above his temples. He looked more of the role of a new grandpa, rather than an interrogator.
“Who do you work for?,” the grandpa interrogator said.
“I’ve told you a thousand times-I work for myself,” her voice felt thin and defeated.
“Ms. Jones, we want to let you go-we do,” the interrogator looked to his partners standing beside her. “We all have lives outside of here. Why are you making this so difficult? Just tell us your contacts and we can all go home to our families.”
“My contacts? I’m a pet photographer. I live in my Grandma’s house. I’m unmarried. I’ve been recently dumped by an excuse of a man. I have nothing. I am nothing.” Rosalyn began to cry.
“Then where are you finding these name-brand items that you are selling at your garage sale? You are committing fraud to the public by selling counterfeit goods and that, Ms. Jones-is a Class C Felony. We can put you away for a long time.”
Rosalyn sniffled and wiped her nose with her gray sleeve. She wrenched her chin out of the interrogator’s hand and plunked it back down on her chest.
“Give me a break,” she mumbled. “I haven’t done anything wrong. Prove that I have and then we’ll talk.”
The three men left the room as quickly as they had entered. They flicked the switch, shutting off the single light in the room and enveloping Rosalyn in complete darkness. Her tingling hands signaled her arms soon would fall asleep. Rosalyn began to cry once more, her sobs echoing in the empty room.
Rosalyn heard a slight scratching piercing through the darkness. She pinpointed the sound and could see sliver of light beaming from underneath the door. Something was being slid underneath the door. Rosalyn forced herself out of the chair slowly, but her arms still tied behind her making it difficult. Falling to her knees, she used her nose to pull an envelope towards her. As soon as she had tugged at the envelope, she heard footsteps on the other side of the door clomp away from her.
The room was dark, save the bit of light around the door frame. She drew her hands underneath her, weaving her legs through one at a time. Clumsily, Rosalyn tore at the envelope with her pinky fingers. Inside she found a lighter and two pictures. Using the lighter, she melted through the plastic zip-ties. With her hands now free, she crawled to the corner directly underneath the smoky glass, and held the lighter up to inspect the two pictures. One picture was of her selling a Chang belt to one of her customers. The suit was standing beside her in the photo, tape recorder in hand. She hadn’t noticed him that day at the sale. The second photo was of her photographing her last client with the bird dog. The suit was off in the distance, but definitely watching her.
How long had she been followed? Both photos were taken from some distance, the pixelation caused by blowing up a photo evident. The suit’s face was grainy, with no distinct features other than black dots where eye sockets should have been.What were these photos supposed to tell her? She flipped the photos over. Each had long code hand printed on the back. The first photo of her with the Chang belt read: -01-02-17-33-458-2-19-0-0-1. None of the numbers were significant to her. The second photo read similarly, but used a few letters in place of numbers: 213-7-J-14-SP-12-N-89. She scoured the envelope for any more clues, but it was blank. Rosalyn sat in the corner, silently saying the codes over and over again, trying to make sense of it.
The only place to hide her puzzling information was underneath the chair or the table. Rosalyn crawled through the abyss to find the chair. She ran her fingers underneath the chair, feeling a lip between the seat and the legs. Jamming the envelope into the vacant space underneath the seat, she prayed it wouldn’t be visible when the lights were inevitably flipped back on. Rosalyn tucked the lighter into her shirt sleeve, crawled back through the darkness, found a corner to lay her head against and fell back asleep.