Authors: KM Rockwood
“Well, no, you really don’t. But I’m not gonna snitch.”
“These guys, they been boosting cars.”
“You been boosting them, too?”
“No. I just been locating them.”
“Locating? What do you mean?”
“Going around and finding cars like they got on their list. Mostly late-model luxury types. When I find one, I call this number and give its location. They give me ten bucks for each one I call in. And fifty if it works out.”
“If what works out?”
He looked at me like I was dense. “If they boost it.”
“That’s not much money for the risks you been taking.”
“Not much risk. I don’t
nothing but call this number. And they gave me a cell phone.”
“You ever heard of conspiracy charges?”
of them. But I’m not real sure what they are.”
“They’re when you’re part of a criminal operation but don’t necessarily do much. Like calling in the location of a car that’s then stolen. You have any idea what the penalties for conspiracy are?”
“Same as for whatever crime they’re conspiracy to. In this case, grand theft auto. Or even carjacking.”
He sat for a minute, not saying anything.
“And you get involved with some pretty nasty characters. Who’ll beat you up as soon as look at you,” I added.
“Yeah. I think I got that part figured out. But it’s easy money. And most of them are making a lot more than I did. It’s a profitable scheme.”
“Are those the guys who beat you up?”
“Well, that’s some of them.”
“Look where the ‘profitable scheme’s got them. Locked up.”
We heard the door from the hallway into the cellblock slide open. Boot steps echoed as a CO strode down the row of cells. I could hear the faint jangle of his keys. I lay there, waiting for him to pass by. He stopped at our door.
Shaking my head to clear the cobwebs, I scrambled down from the bunk and went to the door. A CO stood there, papers in one hand and his radio in the other.
“Yes, sir?” I said.
“Pop the door on K-14,” he said into the radio.
The door slid open. I stood there waiting to be told what to do.
“Someone to see you.”
I stepped out of the cell. The door closed behind me. Willis sat on his bunk and stared at us. “Visitor?” he asked.
“Not likely,” I said. “Especially on a Sunday morning.”
“You got your ID?” the CO asked.
I showed him the plastic bracelet on my wrist. He tried to tug it off, but it didn’t come. Frowning, he lifted my hand and read the information, checking it against the paper, and looked at the tiny photograph then up at my face. He glanced at Willis. “You both so beat up, it’s hard to tell who’s who.”
He stepped back and let me precede him out to the door from the housing unit to the hallway, where he radioed a request to have it opened. Then he gestured down the hallway toward the front of the jail.
I shuffled on ahead of him, trying to keep the shower shoes from falling off and the legs of the jumpsuit from trailing on the floor. We got to a door again—was it the same attorney visitation room I’d been in last night?—and he radioed for that to be opened.
It was the same room. And Montgomery was inside, this time dressed in a grey pinstripe suit with a pale pink shirt and a striped tie. He shook his head when he saw me.
“You look rough. Not bad enough your face is all bruised up. You could fit another inmate or two in that jumpsuit with you and still be able to snap it.”
I grinned. “Yeah. I guess they don’t want to worry that the jumpsuits are gonna be too small for anybody they get in after the laundry room’s shut at night.”
“Well, by the size of that thing, I think they’ve got that covered.” He sat on the edge of the table. “A few things I want you to tell me.”
I felt my stomach churn. “About Kelly?”
“Yeah. And about the people she hangs with.”
“I don’t know who she hangs with. Apart from me. And that hasn’t been much lately.”
He raised his chiseled eyebrows on his dark forehead. “I’m trying to figure out what happened to your girlfriend here. I’d think the least you could do was cooperate.”
“If I know anything that’ll help you find out who raped her, I’ll tell you. But I don’t know all that much.”
“She seeing anyone besides you?”
I shrugged. “Not that she told me. But I never asked.”
“Why is that?”
“None of my business, really. She made it pretty clear she didn’t want a tight relationship. At least not with me.”
“How did she make that clear?”
so. ‘Don’t expect this to be exclusive’ or something.”
He suppressed a smile. “And how did you feel about that?”
I tried to keep the hitch out of my voice. “I had to accept that. I mean, what have I got going for me that I could ask her for any kind of exclusive relationship?”
“So if she was seeing someone else and not telling you, you’d be okay with that?”
Shifting from one foot to the other, I said, “Well, not exactly
with it. But it was one of those ‘my way or the highway’ things with her, and I took what I could get.”
“You settled for the crumbs, huh?”
“I guess. If you want to look at it like that.”
look at it?”
Without thinking, I blurted out, “She was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
He cocked his head. “Sex that good?”
I looked away from him. “It’s not just the sex. That’s a big part of it, sure. I mean, I been locked up for years. But it was the way she
“Like a regular
Not like a convict on parole. We fixed dinner for her kids. Watched TV sometimes. Just spent time together. It’s hard to explain.”
He looked thoughtful. “I think I get it. But tell me, was she seeing any of the Predators that you know of?”
“She said they were hanging around her dad a lot. So of course she was
them. But you mean like sleeping with any of them?”
“Well, they’re bikers. They’re not real fussy about who they jump into bed with. But I don’t think Kelly would go for that.”
Montgomery narrowed his eyes. “But you haven’t known her for that long. You don’t know for sure.”
My jaw tightened, and I wanted to argue with him. I knew, though, that wouldn’t do any good. And he was right about me not knowing her for that long. I took a deep breath, unclenched my teeth and said, “I guess.”
“She didn’t say anything about one in particular?”
“Not to me.”
“Or about any of their women getting jealous?”
“Probably wouldn’t bother the women if they screwed her, or anybody else. Happens all the time. Only way one of the women would get upset was if her man asked her for his colors back so he could give them to someone else.”
“That happen with Kelly that you know of?”
“Look, I been steering clear of Kelly’s place since her dad came to stay there. It was almost like a second clubhouse for the Predators. I don’t know why they decided it was a better place to hang out, but they did. I could get myself in a lot of trouble just being there.”
“So maybe Kelly was getting lonesome? Or horny?”
My throat began to close up. Not a train of thought I wanted to pursue. “She sure wasn’t getting any from
“And she likes her sex, doesn’t she?”
I had to admit that was true. “Yeah.”
“Maybe she was getting tight with one of them?”
“It don’t sound like her, but I guess it could happen.” Montgomery stood up. “I’ve got some good news for you.”
“Is that so? I could use some good news.”
“Kelly’s come around some. Gonna spend another day or two in the hospital, maybe go on to rehab for her shoulder, but she’s awake. Says she’d had a few drinks and don’t remember everything, but she’s sure it wasn’t you who raped her.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. On a couple of counts.
“She says you weren’t even there.”
“Is she gonna be okay?”
“I think so. A bit battered up, but nothing permanent. At least physically.”
“Did she say who did it?”
“Yep. One of her daddy’s acquaintances.”
He clasped his hands in front of him. The green jewel in his ring glistened in the overhead light. “You really think
gonna tell you? So you can figure out how to get the crap beat out of him?”
I shook my head. “I’ll probably find out anyhow. And I don’t think I’ll be beating the crap out of anybody.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to do it yourself. But I wouldn’t put it past you to make sure it happened. Or worse.”
“Yeah. I know how you guys think. Something like making sure his dick got a whole lot shorter. I’m not going to be the one responsible for that kind of mutilation, even if the guy deserves it. We’ve got an APB for him. With any luck, we’ll pick him up before Old Buckles and some of his biker buddies find him. Or you.”
No point in trying to tell him I wouldn’t be out for revenge. I said, “So what does that mean for me now?”
“That means they cut you loose.”
I could hardly believe it. “You got in touch with my PO? On a weekend? And he’s okay with that?”
Montgomery looked at me. “You know Ramirez.”
I did. I counted myself lucky to have Mr. Ramirez as my parole officer. He took his job seriously. He was of the opinion that if I was going to abscond, I’d have done so. A while ago. And he was right.
He felt the best place for any offender who could handle it was out on parole, holding down a job, and paying taxes, not being a burden on society.
I’d have to figure out some way to say thanks to Mr. Ramirez at my next parole appointment.
“And one more thing, Jesse,” Montgomery said.
“If I were you, I’d stay away from Kelly for the time being.”
“You said she’s still in the hospital?”
I nodded, but that was one piece of advice I wasn’t going to be following.
He moved over to the door and called for the CO.
I walked out the front door of the jail into the gathering darkness. I was wearing my own clothes which were beginning to feel pretty grungy. I had my wallet and apartment key back in my pocket. My hair tie had gone missing, but I wasn’t going to complain about anything minor that might delay my release. I brushed back my straggly brown hair and tried to tuck it into my collar so it would stay out of my face. And I still needed a shave.
Willis had been right about me getting sprung after all.
The hospital was only a few blocks away and, despite Montgomery’s warning, it was the first place I headed.
The building was in the center of a well-lit parking lot. I approached the emergency room entrance, and I walked up to it. There were a few ambulances and a patrol car pulled up by the door. A cop stood on the sidewalk, talking into his radio. Not a good place for me to be, so I kept going around the side of the building.
Kelly might have been brought in that way, but by now she’d be somewhere else. I hoped not in intensive care or another place where they had visitors limited to immediate family and kept track of them.
I circled around to the front of the building, stopping by a huge lighted sign by the end of the circular driveway. “Rothsburg Memorial Hospital,” it announced, and listed a series of destinations with arrows pointing in different directions.
As I tried to figure out where I needed to go, a couple of chopped Harleys pulled up to the front door, each with a passenger behind the rider. One was a customized trike. Stepping back into the shadow of the sign, I watched as two women climbed off the rear seats. The backs of their leather jackets sported club colors, but I wasn’t near enough to read them. They tugged at their hair and clothes, straightening themselves out before they headed inside.
I’d take bets they had come to see Kelly.
The bikes slid around the driveway and eased to a stop near where I stood. One rider, a tall weedy guy with a bandana tied over his hair, knocked the kickstand into place and dismounted. The beefy trike rider, his waist-length grey hair and full beard in braids, straddled his seat.