Jake peered around the palm tree and looked outside. The limo had gone. He stood up, moved across to the door, and went out to make sure. What had happened? Had he missed Mason or Sammy? Neither of them had passed him on their way out, he was sure of that. Other tenants, but not them. He walked up and down the sidewalk thinking. Then he saw it. The fire escape at the side. Would either of them use it? Not Sammy, it was his driver, so it could have been Mason, especially if he wanted to creep up on the big ape. His mind was in turmoil. He went back inside the apartment block and called Anna. “Anna I missed them. Sammy’s limo’s gone.”
Anna’s voice rose. “How the hell did that happen? You fall asleep or take too much weed or something?” she berated.
He sniffed. “I wasn’t smoking the stuff and I was wide awake. Maybe Mason used the fire escape. That’s why I didn’t spot him.”
“Okay Mr. DD. What you going to do now?”
Good question. “I’m not too sure. What do you think?”
“Jake, it was your plan,” she reminded him.
As if he needed reminding. It all boiled down to one question. Did he have the balls to go up to the apartment and face a killer, maybe a serial one at that? “You think I should go up and check?” he said.
“No, I think you should just let Emma die,” she responded.
“You serious?” said Jake - part of him hoping he had a way out.
She sounded exasperated. “Jake, you’ve got no choice. It’ll be her blood on your hands if Mason returns and she’s still tied up or whatever. Then it’ll be our turn next when he forces Emma to tell him who we are.”
That could be even worse. Mason could come back anytime. Was he a man or louse? “Okay, Anna I’m going up. I’ll call you back, ok?”
“Jake,” she said, in a more gentle tone. “Be careful.”
He clicked off the phone and called the elevator. Rode up to the third floor and walked along it to Emmy’s apartment. Put his ear to the door and listened. Nothing. He knocked. Nothing. He listened again. Nothing. He knocked again. Nothing. He looked up and down the corridor. Nobody. This is ridiculous, he thought. Just do it.
He pulled the door key out of his jeans, unlocked the door, and pushed it open. He stood in the doorway, ready to run. “Emmy,” he called in a loud whisper. “You okay?” Nothing. He peered round the door. Apartment living room clean enough apart from the upturned briefcase and paper scattered around. Sammy’s jacket slung across a chair. He moved in, calling Emmy’s name again. No response. The bedroom door was closed. He moved up to it and listened. Nothing. He was about to open the door when he had a thought. He could be part of a crime scene. He turned back, closed the apartment door, moved into the kitchen area and took off his loafers. He searched around and found three plastic bags, two of which he wrapped around his feet and ankles, securing them with rubber bands. Still nothing. Then he secured the other bag around his right hand, went back to the bedroom door and opened it.
If he hadn’t seen Ruth’s dead body up in Stockton he would have gagged. But it was close. The smell from vomit and shit was overwhelming. He choked back the bile in his throat and focused on the scene. CSI. He clicked off the images and stored them in his head.
Emmy was dead. Fuck.
There was finality about it. And an unanswered question.
She was lying trussed up on the bed, eyes open wide with surprise or horror, maybe both. There was prominent bruising on her neck. Possible strangulation. Otherwise no other apparent external injuries although she was lying in a pool of clotting blood. Evidence of sexual activity, exposed breasts, the skirt was ruffled up and panties removed. Dried blood and semen stains on her thighs. What was that? A dime placed carefully across her slit.
Nightmare. But this one wouldn’t go away.
He took his gaze off her body and turned away. Man’s clothing on the floor. He touched nothing. Walked into the bathroom, avoiding the blood on the floor and saw Sammy in the tub, holding a knife. Throat severed, pants hanging round his knees. Soiled towel containing... the smell nearly made him gag. Bowl and bath towel dirty with spots of blood as if someone had washed up.
He fought back from vomiting, and continued to click as he carefully retraced his steps back out to the bedroom entrance. It was as if someone else was taking him through the correct procedure. In a trance-like state, he removed the bags from his feet and hand and put the foot bags and rubber bands inside the other bag. He moved back into the living room, carefully picked up the paper and scooped it all back into the briefcase together with the plastic bags. He wiped the kitchen area clean with his scarf. He picked up his loafers and put them back on. They would all be trashed much further downtown. And the rest of his clothes would be incinerated.
He picked up the cart, carried it outside, and then wiped the door handle clean and locked the apartment door behind him. He pocketed the keys. Just in case. He took the fire escape steps back down, found a nearby alley way and finally threw up over some rotting garbage. A rat scuttled away. When he started to breathe easier, he wheeled the cart downtown, and slung it in a dump truck. He picked up new loafers at a thrift store and dumped his contaminated ones in the garbage. As he made his way back to the rooming house, he wondered what he would say to Anna.
They were in deep shit.