“LIAR!” Alex screamed at his ex-wife Kat Barringer-Holmes as his vehicle swerved to avoid an oncoming car and he went through a red traffic light.
Kat was having difficulty breathing. Her eyes and sinuses were swollen from crying, mucus building in her throat. She stared at her best friend Lexi who was unconscious inside the metal dog cage in the back of Alex’s Hummer. Pushing her tongue against the cloth, she kept thrusting to try to push the rag out of her mouth. It slowly edged out. Kat took in a gulp of air. She twisted her hands to try to free herself from the shirt her ex-husband tied her up with.
She heard something move behind her and turned to see Lexi’s eyes open. Kat shook her head furiously and mouthed 'Shhh.' Then she mouthed, ’Close your eyes,’ while she shook her head again.
The Hummer swayed around a corner and escalated a ramp to the 5 Freeway. Kat spotted Alex looking into the rearview mirror. She snapped her head around towards Lexi. Lexi’s eyes were closed. She wasn’t moving. Kat took another deep breath.
“Guess where we’re going?” Alex chuckled.
“Where?” Kat bit her lip and swallowed hard, her throat now dry.
“A nice quite place. I’ve got it set up special for you. No one will ever think to look for you there.”
He headed the car onto Route 133 towards Limestone Canyon.
Kat shivered. She noticed Lexi’s eyelashes were becoming wet, her eyes still shut. Kat put her leg out to brace her body and push upward to see out the window.
“Get down!” Alex’s arm flew back, his fist slamming her shoulder. She hit into the door on the passenger’s side.
Kat screamed from stabbing pain, but at that moment saw a Route 133 sign. She lowered her head back down.
Agent Maverick Astolfi held onto the ceiling strap as his partner Agent Ryan Reynolds barreled through back roads in Lake Wood to get to Kat’s home. His vehicle turned onto her street and he pressed the brake. The car slowed. “No cars in front of the house,” Ryan said.
“There’s a cruiser now.” Maverick motioned towards a black and white patrol car that was pulling up in front of Kat’s 3 bedroom colonial home.
Ryan pulled over a few houses away and they watched the officer walk across the lawn and step onto the walkway that led to the front door. The cop yanked his radio off his shoulder and stopped walking.
“Not good!” Maverick yelled.
Ryan pushed his cell talk button to contact his boss, Ronny Quinn. “Yeah?” Ronnie’s voice entered the car.
“Looks like backup’s being called in at Barringer’s house.”
“Don’t approach. Let them handle it.” Ronny instructed.
Ryan turned his car around and got back to the main road.
“The house number’s 2457 on Pompano Hill.” Maverick guided.
“That’s a approximately five minutes from here.” Ryan calculated.
“I’ll call for an officer to check that location while we’re waiting to find out what’s going on at Kat’s.” Quinn spoke.
The Hummer came to a stop. Kat watched Alex climb from his car. They were at a ranch house that she’d never seen before. She stretched her neck to attempt to obtain a house number from the premises, but couldn’t spot any. She noticed the door on the mailbox was hanging by one hinge. There was a two car garage. Alex was banging on the garage door. Cardboard was covering the windows from the inside.
Alex’s face was now in the car window. He thrust the door open, reached in and grabbed her under the arms. She started to kick. Her arms behind her still tied, her hands blue.
“Don’t bother!” He let her go and she landed face down. He reached over her and a blade in his hand glistened. He jabbed it into the shirt that bound her to the automobile and tore it. Pulling her under her arms again, he carried her out of the car. “Walk.” He growled standing behind her, checking his surroundings.
An empty dirt road wrapped around a large high mound of dry growth.
Holding her bicep, he led her to the back of the house. A high fence surrounded either side of the dwelling and the back yard, closing it off from view He brought her up a few steps onto a deck. She stepped on a lose board. There were a couple of holes broken into the wood deck from wood rot. He slid a glass door and pushed her inside the house. Pain shook her. She caught her breath.
Dirty dishes overflowed from the sink onto the counter. An old small television was on the floor, a wire hanger twisted onto the antenna.
“Ya know, I think this foreclosure has promise. You should try to get the listing,” he laughed. The living room sheetrock had holes in it. “You’re going in there.” He led her to a door with four deadbolt locks on it.
“No. Don’t do this! Take me back home. I’ll change. I promise!” Kat tried to wriggle free.
“Shut up!” he slid a deadbolt unlocking the door.
I t opened to the garage. All the windows were covered with cardboard. The electricity was off. There was a bucket on the floor, a mattress with no sheets, but a pillow and an old blue dirty blanket. Spilled paint covered part of the concrete floor near the mattress. A chain was fastened to a support pole. Alex grabbed the end of it, blood dripped off his hand. “They’re not going to be listing this property for a long time because the market is saturated. It would only bring prices down even lower; so the nice bank won’t be listing it for at least a year they said. We’re safe here."
He clamped the chain to her wrists.
Agent Roberts phone was openly connected to Quinn’s. “They’ve called forensics,” Quinn’s voice came though clearly.
Ryan’s fist came down onto the dashboard.
“Get to his house!” Maverick hollered.
“They’re sending units to Alex Barringer’s. Stay off the premises.” Quinn instructed.
“We’re rolling up on it now,” Maverick responded.
“How’s it look?” Quinn asked.
Sirens sounded in the distance.
“No activity. I’ll drive around the side street behind the house.” Ryan said.
They approached the back which was secluded in stockade fencing. Ryan stood inside the threshold of the driver’s side and peered over the fence. “No visible activity.”
The sirens were a full blare now, tires screeching.
Ryan steered the car out of Alex’s neighborhood as they sat silent.
Maverick spoke first. “Alex had her car taken so Kat wouldn’t have away to escape from him.”
Quinn interrupted them. “Agent Saunders just called in from Kat’s house. She said they found blood. They’re combing the area.”
NEXT: A MANHUNT IS UNDERWAY - JOE COFFEE CHRONICLES - Segment 9
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R.J. Grand is the author of the Fortier Series Mystery Books - THE PAINTING OF DECEIT,
ON THE INSIDE, and soon to be released COMPO COVE.