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Mae made herself as small and quiet as she could in the back corner of the bedroom closet, using the hanging clothes as extra cover. The dogs barked and barked outside. She couldn’t understand why they weren’t charging back into the house. They should be tearing apart the intruder that had taken Bob downstairs.
Bob kept a revolver in his nightstand but Mae had no idea how to use it. She had never fired a gun before. It had hammers and safeties and unfamiliar, dangerous mechanisms to worry about. Even if she did know how to wield it, she lacked the fortitude to act decisively on the intruder. She worried he might see her first and blow her away before she could overcome her hesitancy.
She was petrified of the demon in the darkness. He was undoubtedly an expert in the way he had so quickly, silently, and effortlessly subdued a professional law enforcer. She tried not to breathe too loud.
Footsteps, she silently screamed in her mind. Please don’t come in here.
The footsteps stopped at the bedroom door.
Oh God. Please no. Don’t come in here. Please. Please.
She heard the door handle turn and then the door sweep open across the carpet and into the dark bedroom. She heard Bob’s screams from downstairs. He seemed so far away.
A sliver of light appeared under the closet door. She noticed the calf of her leg was exposed, sticking out from behind the hanging blind of clothes. She drew it back into her body slowly.
Please don’t…please don’t look in here, she pleaded silently.
The sliver of light vanished. The footsteps made their way back down the hall and into the bathroom. Mae heard the tub faucet turn on.
There must have been at least two intruders, because she could hear Bob’s screams and pleas directed at one of them in the downstairs garage while the other worked the faucet in the upstairs bath. The knobs squeaked. The water stopped. The footsteps left the bathroom and made their way back down the stairs.
She waited quietly in the darkness, petrified that there might be a third intruder waiting silently in the room, waiting patiently for her to peek her face out of the closet and snatch her by the hair and drag her outside where some unknown, hellish fate awaited. She waited in the darkness.
She heard Bob coughing. She heard the muffled voices of the intruders. Who are they? Gangbangers? Kidnappers? Maybe they were parolees using the cover of chaos to take revenge on the cop who had put them away in the past.
After a while, it seemed safe for Mae to peek out. She slowly, quietly opened the closet door and poked her head out into the pitch-black room. She opened the door further, carefully, just wide enough to crawl out. To her relief, no one was there waiting to grab her by the scalp. But her heart still raced.
She crawled over to the nightstand and got Bob’s revolver. The weight and unwieldiness of it surprised her. She sat Indian style on the floor, next to the nightstand, holding the gun, back against the bed, wearing nothing but a t-shirt.
She tried to muster some courage. If she dialed the cops, it would take them at least twenty minutes to get to Bob’s secluded house. And that was if they answered at all. 9-1-1 was only sporadically available. And if she called, the intruders might hear her. And she couldn’t find the phone in the darkness anyway. And she dared not turn on the light. So she took a long deep breath and pulled herself up onto her feet holding the gun.
She clasped the revolver with both hands as she carefully stepped out of the bedroom and proceeded down the stairs, then around a corner to the door leading into the garage. She could hear the intruder’s voices clearly. She heard water and coughing. It was Bob’s coughing.
What are they doing to him? she asked herself.
The intruders were just behind the door, just a few feet away. She heard splashing, wheezing, and threatening commands. If she could just open the door and point the gun at them then Bob would take it from there. But they have guns, too, she considered. They’ll shoot me dead. No, I can’t do it. I can’t. She couldn’t open the door.
Terror coursed through her arteries, freezing her in fear. Her hands clumsily clutched the gun with its heavy barrel pointed droopily towards the door. She thought for a second about just pulling the trigger and hoping the explosion might be enough to scare them off. No, that was too risky. She didn’t even have the nerve to put her finger on the trigger. She remained frozen.
She heard one of the invaders speak. “Bob, this is your last chance.” Crack. Crack. Crack. “She’s…” Garrity stuttered, “She’s at a campground. She’s at a campground.”
What does that mean? Who was at a campground? She asked herself. She could hardly believe her ears when she heard the rest of Bob’s confession. She wanted to throw the gun down and run out into the snow. But for a moment she rationalized it. There’s no way Bob could do such a thing, she assured herself. But she quickly overcame this thought as well. It was true. She knew Bob’s truth when he told it.
Who was this woman? What did Bob do to her? Why did he do this? The money? Was it for traveling money to get us to Costa Rica?
Her instinct for self-preservation suddenly manifested itself. She knew that she would most certainly be implicated in Bob’s scheme and, at the very least, her career would be ruined by such a scandal. She hobnobbed with the Treasury secretary’s family and the president’s Cabinet and all those billionaire bankers and their Botoxed, Long Island wives. She relished that life—the travel, the money, the cocktail parties where the patricians bitched about their lawsuits and their detached, rotten kids. This is not happening! Her life would be destroyed by this scandal. She couldn’t just surrender it over Bob’s stupidity. She would be ruined. Her career would, at best, be relegated to some mahogany hall in some bland, multinational corporate office. It would be a living hell, wasting her days and remaining vitality cooking up financial lies and P&L propaganda for some Eau Claire, cheddar-cheese conglomerate. She’d almost rather blow her brains out right then and there. She looked down at the gun in her hand.
Stop thinking like a loser, she cajoled herself. You will not accept this. You cannot allow yourself to be tied to this scandal. This is Bob’s mess, let him deal with it. You have to go! Go now! Run! Run!
But she couldn’t. She heard the invader’s footsteps. She held the gun up. She placed her two manicured index fingers on the trigger. Now she was ready, ready to shoot. She would shoot them and make Bob clean it all up and then she would leave him for good. She never should have come back anyway. He’s a loser, she thought, a redneck, loser undersheriff in a hick county in a fly-over state.
A set of footsteps went out the side door of the garage. Then the interior garage door opened. Mae pointed the gun. A figure appeared before her but it wasn’t Bob. It was an intruder. He stood in the frame of the door like a wraith, a shadow backlit by the orange glow of Hades. He mechanically raised his 9mm to her forehead. She feebly, shakily, raised Bob’s revolver in defense. Their eyes met. But Mae could not squeeze the trigger. A flash, a final instant of existence, and she would be no more. She lowered the pistol and dropped her eyes and shook her head. She was beaten…finished.
But Jimmy Marzan left her there and slipped into the backyard.
She waited for a moment, listening to Bob sobbing in the garage. She stepped through the doorway. She found Bob covered with coats, blindfolded and gagged and soaking wet and shivering. She approached him, gun in hand. He didn’t hear her. He was just trying to breathe through the gag.
“How could you do this?” she asked him.
Bob mumbled through the tennis ball and duct tape.
Instinctively, she pulled the hammer back on the pistol, like she had seen in movies so many times. “How could you do this to me?” she screamed.
Bob mumbled and strained under his gag and restraints. His coats fell off revealing his bindings. Bob gripped the mallet tied to the trigger of the shotgun tightly in his frozen hand. Mae ripped his blindfold off. Bob screamed muffled screams, but she didn’t remove the gag. She just stood with the gun, hammer cocked, directly between Bob’s knotted, shivering body and the shotgun affixed to the vice that was aimed at his chest. The dogs barked viciously outside. Bob shook his head vehemently from side to side, trying to use his eyes to direct her to the shotgun.
“No! Be careful. Don’t touch that string! Take this gag off. Look! Look behind you!” But his gagged pleas were unintelligible.
“You bastard!” she said, raising the barrel to his face.
No, Mae. No. I did it for us. I did it for you. I love you.
Her shoulder pressed up against the string tied to the trigger. The line drew taut. Bob tried to raise the mallet up in his hand to put more slack in the line but his knots had little give left in them. He held his breath. The dogs snarled and growled away in the yard. He looked into her eyes. He saw only ice.
He prayed. He prayed that the all-consuming obsession he had for her—far more for her than for any other in all his life—would mean something to her now. She was angelic in his mind, a powerful woman, a woman of crystalline intellect and shrewdness and class. Mae, with her razor sharp edges and impenetrable armor, a woman so desirable, so feminine and beautiful and perfect—he prayed that she might finally know him now. She must understand him after all this. She must comprehend his ruthlessness. She must know that he was just like her, that they were the same, that they were made for each other. She had to know this now. She had to love him now. They were of one mind and one spirit. He had finally proven his worthiness. He had finally proven his devotion to her by the lengths he was willing to go.
He looked into her eyes. They will soften, he hoped. She will throw down the gun and embrace me and press herself against me and become one with me. He had finally conquered the unconquerable Maiden Lane. He had finally made her love him.
No, she did not love him. Her cold, cat’s-eye stare revealed that. He saw nothing in her glassy eyes but contempt. No. No. No. he cried inside. He had failed. He had failed to win her again.
He was going to drop the mallet, drop the mallet and kill her with a shotgun blast. She would drop into his arms and he would be, if not immersed in an embrace of her love, at least awash in her blood. No, there was no trace of love in her eyes for him. He knew it was finally over. So many years of his life wasted chasing her and trying to prove himself to her and to win her back. It was time to drop the hammer.
But he couldn’t do that either. He held on. He was pathetic.
His beloved shepherds ceased their barking. He loved those dogs but now they were dead and gone. Soon Mae would be gone and he would be alone again. And if he survived the cold he would be arrested or perhaps worse.
Mae stepped back and the slack in the string returned.
“Don’t go,” he mumbled through the gag in futility.
But Mae pulled away from him, leaving him knotted up in the frozen garage.
“No. Don’t go, Mae. I love you,” he sobbed.
But she left him there and went back into the house. She came back one last time, dressed and with a bag. He knew she was too meticulous to leave anything behind. She threw the bag into Bob’s truck. Then she looked at him one last time. Bob hoped that maybe she would change her mind. He prayed that she would come to her senses and at least untie him. He wanted nothing in life other than to be near her, to hold her, if only for a few fleeting moments. But he knew by her expression that she was leaving and would not be coming back.
Mae never changed her mind. He realized then that she didn’t come back for him anyway. She was just using him. She turned off the garage light and got into his truck and started it up. The light came back on again when she opened the garage door and drove his truck off into the cold night.
Bob imagined himself discovered frozen to death. It was no matter. Everything was lost for him. Even if the brotherhood covered for him, which they probably wouldn’t, they would not be able to restore his life from the ruined state it was in. And why would they, anyway? he asked himself. He couldn’t breathe. It was as if one of the intruders had taken the mallet and hammered him in the diaphragm. He struggled against the knots but it was hopeless.
My dogs, he wept. Poor Daisy. Poor Stossi. My angels. They held my life together when Mae left the first time. My glorious, loyal shepherds are dead.” He had seen many dead dogs. He imagined them lying on their sides in the snow, tongues hanging out, blank eyes stuck open.
What is my life worth anymore? What am I worth as a man? I can’t even run. I’m penniless. I’m trapped. I’m alone. I’m naked tied to a folding chair. I have a shotgun pointed at my heart and a trigger tied to a hammer in my numb hand. How will I be found? If they find me alive, what will I say? The intruders had filmed his confession so it was pointless to attempt to contrive a story. He was finished any way he looked at it.
He began shivering uncontrollably. Soon, the hypothermia would put him to sleep. His hand would relax. The hammer would fall out. The shotgun would fire. He would be dead. The pain would be over. Bob Garrity looked into the barrel of the shotgun. He gazed down at the hammer in his hand. He prayed it would be instantaneous. The timer ran out and the garage light switched off.
Two hours later, Mae passed into the federal bunker complex at Denver International. She told T what had happened. T had Bob’s truck hauled away to be destroyed. Two escorts took Mae down into the catacombs, there. The red door appeared once again before her. She stepped forward and turned the handle and passed through it.
Email email@example.com for the password to the last 2 chapters!