Murder and Mayhem Ch. 02byRedHairedandFriendly©
It was a week before Diane returned to work; Joe had insisted she take more time off, but she told him she had to work, even if it was just serving drinks from behind the bar, which is what she was doing. The stitches that her sister Carla had put in, after swearing and cursing her for not going to a hospital, still pulled, but not enough to give Diane too much discomfort. The next day, she had an appointment at her sister's office to have the stitches removed. Having a pediatrician in the family had always been beneficial, but last week was the first time she'd used her sister for herself and not Devon.
"How ya feeling?" Joe asked as he took a moment to draw out a cigarette and light it.
Diane smiled. "I'm not doing too bad. A bit sore, but looking forward to tomorrow."
"Well, you know you can go home. Tate's got my permission to leave when you're ready. He'll drive you home and then come back here to finish his shift."
"Thanks Joe, but it's only a couple more hours. It's no big deal really. I'm fine." Diane squeezed her boss's arm and then went back to work. Serving drinks didn't make the tips that dancing did, so she did her best to keep her customers' glasses filled. The more they drank the more they left in the little bowl for her tips. Some were regulars and she was thankful for them, because they were still dropping bills into her pants when she'd walk by. With or without a dance they were supporting her.
"You don't look worse for wear."
Diane glanced at the owner of the voice and studied him closely. "Oh. . .hi," she whispered as she realized the man who had rescued her was now sitting at the bar.
"Hi to you. How are you? I'm surprised to see you here," Todd told her, then ordered a jack 'n coke.
She mixed up the beverage and set it in front of Todd. "No charge," she told him and he nodded his head in thanks. "It's my third day back. I had a week off after the... incident."
Todd lifted a brow. "An incident that could have gotten you killed. What were you doing walking home alone like that, in this neighborhood?"
Diane frowned. "I wasn't working my usual shift, other wise Tate, our bouncer," she nodded her head to the man in the corner, "would have walked me home. It was just bad luck," she said.
"I hope your luck isn't always that bad," Todd answered.
"It used to be, but all was going well there for a while, so bad luck was due to hit any day."
Todd chuckled. Diane smiled back and then told him she'd talk to him more later, but she had work to do. He agreed to hold her to her promise and watched as she walked away to wait on others. Diane felt his eyes on her and she blushed from the feeling. She handled the incoming flux of customers. It was a Friday night and the place was packed. Men and women were enjoying the sights and sounds that filled the smoky club.
Diane continued to glance from the dancers to the man that had rescued her. She found herself pleased that his gaze was often focused on someone or something besides Isis or Ginger's gyrating forms. Most often her eyes met his and she'd feel her skin grow more heated.
An hour had passed before Diane was able to make her way back to the man who was still nursing his first drink. She'd seen Joe talking to him, look her way and then continue talking. She'd wanted to find out what was being said, but knew she had to concentrate on her work and making the money up for the week she'd been off. "Not mixed right?" she asked as she looked at his drink.
"Nah. I'm just not much of a drinker," Todd replied.
"Then why order it?" she asked and took the drink away, to replace it with a soda. "Better?" she asked as she opened the bottle of coke-cola.
"Only if you share it with me and drinking helps me keep up the image of a hard ass," he said.
Diane laughed and pulled a glass from behind the bar. She poured the cold dark liquid into a tall glass, passed it to her customer and kept the remains for herself. "Cheers," she said and clicked the plastic container against his glassy one.
"To a long life of pure good luck," Todd said, stressing the "good" part of his toast.
"I'll definitely drink to that."
Diane and Todd sipped and talked, her alternating between serving her customers and paying attention to her hero. "You know, I don't know your name, but you know mine. That's a bit unfair, don't you think?"
Todd grinned and extended his hand. "Todd O'Brian, at your service."
Diane smiled back, took the offered appendage and shook it firmly. "Diane Westing."
Todd's brows rose and he studied her closely. "Westing?" he asked, rolling the name off his tongue. "Like in... Richard Westing? The lawyer?"
Diane sighed. "Yes, he's my ex-husband."
Todd almost choked on his drink. "Your ex-husband? What the fuck are you doing dancing on stage if you're the ex of the richest ass. . . I mean lawyer in the city?"
Diane snickered. "I see you know him?"
"More than I want to," Todd muttered under his breath.
"Huh?" Diane asked, not having heard his mumbling because of the loud music.
"I said I know of him."
"Yeah, most people do. I know him though." She shuddered and then shrugged her shoulders. "But to answer your question, Richard and I divorced. I work here because I asked for nothing from him but one thing... and money wasn't it. Richard gave me what I wanted and that's all that matters."
Todd chuckled. "A kid right?"
Diane's brows lifted this time. "Yes, our son. I got Devon. Richard kept the divorce out of the paper as best he could, though it wasn't completely unavoidable, but like I said, I got Devon, Richard kept his money and his stellar reputation." She rolled her eyes at the last part of her statement.
"Well, I've never met Devon, or Richard, but I've heard enough about Westing to know your son got the better end of the deal."
Diane's eyes misted and she whispered, "No. . .I did."
Todd reached over and squeezed her hand. "Why didn't you go to the police?" he asked. Diane was thrown off by the change of subject, but not as much as she was by the touch of the man who was still holding her hand. She thought of pulling it away, but as she stared at it, she knew she didn't want to.
"I thought about it. I couldn't though. Ricky and the others. . .the cops would have wanted details and I couldn't have given those boys up, or you for that matter. Besides the man's gone. You guys got rid of him for me. He'll not be back around." Diane wanted to believe her words, but she knew it was just a matter of time before the man showed himself again. He'd spoken her son's name and that meant she had a stalker. "What did you do to him?" she suddenly asked.
"Exactly what I said we would. We drove out a ways and dropped him behind an abandoned warehouse. I think one of the boys grabbed his ID, which pisses me off. But," he shrugged his shoulders, "taking his ID was better than offing the guy... not much better, but at least none of them are going away for murder."
"No... just drugs someday."
Todd frowned. "One day at a time."
Diane shook her head. "It's not a good profession and I'm sorry to say... you seem too good a guy to be involved in that mess, as are those kids."
"Diane, I'm a man. I've been around the block a few times. I know what I'm doing and when I'm doing it. Those boys... those kids you are referring to. . .they aren't kids. They carry weapons under their coats, knives in their boots and they'd slice ya as soon as you double crossed them. They aren't the innocents you think they are. None of us are."
Diane frowned. "You all could do something better with your lives. You don't strike me as a pusher, or a dealer. You're too smart for that."
Todd shrugged his shoulders. "It pays the bills."
"What a dumb-ass excuse." She turned away and began to wait on other customers, though her thoughts remained on the gentleman that was finishing up his glass of coke.
Todd watched Diane for several more minutes before turning himself around on his bar stool and glancing around at the thick crowd of revelers. He noted the dancers, admired them for a few seconds and then dismissed them as the thought of a gyrating Diane filled his mind. He wouldn't mind seeing her move, but not in this dive. He wanted her in his bedroom, purring around another type of pole. Todd chuckled to himself and brought his attentions to the patrons of the club and off of the sexy dancer, now bartender.
He noted that Ricky had tucked himself into a corner and was fondling some chick he'd probably picked up from somewhere up the block. He wasn't expecting to deal with Ricky tonight, but since he was there he figured he'd kill two birds with one stone. Todd grabbed his soda and made his way to the man and the woman. He pulled a chair from a nearby table and turned it to face Ricky and his date.
"Hey," he said, taking a seat and nodding to the woman. He noted with a smirk where the woman's hands were and glanced at Ricky. "Enjoying yourself?"
Ricky laughed and blew a puff of smoke into the air. Todd sniffed it, not surprised to find the smell of nicotine rolling above him. Ricky wasn't stupid. He wouldn't smoke his weed in a public place, at least not one that he wanted to always be welcomed in. "I'm having a ball. I'm sure we both could if you're interested." Ricky kissed the woman on the neck and whispered in her ear. Immediately she turned her lusty gaze to Todd and began to move toward him.
"No. . .I'm content, but thanks for the offer." The woman's features fell slightly, but she recovered quickly, shrugged her shoulders and settled back against Ricky. "Any word?" Todd asked Ricky once the girl's attentions were back on the object of her affections.
Ricky hissed through clenched teeth and shifted against the talented fingers that were working on his growing erection. "Yeah. I was gonna call you tomorrow. Dino says two days and we can meet him and his boss. Ohhh yeah, right there."
Todd grimaced in disgust as he heard Ricky's voice thicken. He rose from the table and frowned down at the woman masturbating Ricky's shaft. "Careful you two. I have a feeling Joe wouldn't appreciate the show you're providing. You'd hate to loose the scenery around here. I'll meet you at the usual spot in a few days then. Same time?"
Ricky groaned and pulled his "date's" hand away. "Yeah, same as before. Come on babe. I know of a place we can finish up." Ricky pulled the woman through the crowd, his cock head clearly visible to anyone with half a mind to look. Todd shook his head and headed back to the bar.
"Where'd she go?" he muttered and then heard Joe laugh. He looked at the owner of the Slippery Stocking and waited for him to answer him.
Joe chuckled again. "Smitten are ya?" he asked and topped off Todd's drink. "She went home."
Todd rose from his seat and frowned. "Alone?" he asked, the anger in his voice mingled with concern.
Joe shook his head. "No. Tate's driving her. She told me you were involved in saving her. Your drinks are on me."
Todd grinned. "Thanks, but there were others involved. You offer them all drinks you could be out of business."
"We'll keep this between us. I think I can afford to keep you supplied in coke."
Todd laughed again, thanked Joe and ordered another soda. When Joe returned once more, he asked about Diane. By the time Todd left the club, he had learned a lot about the young dancer and was even more intrigued. Her son was her life, but that he could tell when she'd said his name. The bouncer had returned and that too had set Todd's mind at ease. Diane was home safe and sound. He left and drove home, where he climbed into bed and thought of the beautiful creature and how tempting she'd look if she were using the bedpost as her own dancing pole. It was another hour before Todd was finally able to succumb to the sleep his body desperately needed.
~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~
Kevin flexed his leg, wincing at the pain. He stared at the woman, now broken and lifeless. She'd been fun, but now it was high time to leave. He'd enjoyed the private sanctuary of her tiny apartment and the fact that she'd become his personal play thing, but now he had to face his cousin, admit that he'd fucked up again, receive his punishment and move on.
The scent of gasoline filled his nostrils after he opened the cap to the red container. He poured the fuel over the prostitute and then drizzled it around her bed, floor, and several pieces of furniture. After that he dropped the canister by the door, bent down and lit a pile of previously saturated clothes. He jumped back as the flames consumed the vapors. After several seconds his smile rose wide and he left the apartment.
Kevin hobbled along several blocks before waving down a taxi. Once inside its steel interior, he pulled out several bills, confiscated from his victim's home and offered them to the cab driver. "Take me as far as you can on that." He rattled off the address and directions to where he needed to go and sat back in his seat. Five minutes later the cab was pulling to the side to allow a fire truck access to the street. Kevin snickered and watched out of his rear-view mirror as the red engine wailed down the road and he headed in the opposite direction.
The cab ride eventually came to an end. The driver having hauled his passenger out of the Windy City and past several suburbs. Kevin whispered a thanks and got out. His thumb would get him the rest of the way, or he'd walk. His cousin's cottage in the woods wasn't too far now. He wondered if the cab driver had been more generous with his time than his money normally would have allowed. He didn't think of that for long as he lifted his hand in the air and tried to hitch a ride.
An hour, then another passed before the pain in his knee was too great and Kevin was forced to take a break. He slumped down on the side of the road and closed his eyes. The rest however, was short lived. The sound of a car slowing down brought him out of his self-induced pity party and he looked up to see a black Ford Taurus pulling over. Kevin thanked his lucky stars and pulled himself up just as the driver opened the car door.
"Need a lift?" the man asked. He frowned slightly at Kevin's appearance, a look not lost on Kevin.
"Yeah, thanks." He hobbled over and slipped into the passenger side of the car, buckled up and waited for the stranger to return to his place behind the wheel. Once he was inside, Kevin turned and again thanked the young man. He had no interest in hurting the fellow, so he wanted to quickly set his mind at ease. "I appreciate this. My wife and I had a huge fight. I've been walking off my anger and well... got a bum knee, so I was taking a break."
The man nodded his head as if he understood where Kevin was coming from. "Where do you need to go?" he asked and pulled back onto the road.
Kevin told him the address and the man smiled. "I recognize it. I thought that place was abandoned. Didn't know any one lived in that old cottage in the woods. Matter of fact, thought the state owned it... part of the park or something."
Kevin shook his head. "Nah, the park goes right up to the edge. The land the cottage sits on is still owned by my family. My cousin lives there. I figure it's a safe place to hide from the wife." Kevin winked and the stranger laughed. "So how close can you get me?" he asked.
"I'll take ya the rest of the way. It's not too far out of my direction. Why not sit back and relax. I could tell that knee was troubling you when you rose up from the ground."
"Thanks man," Kevin answered and reclined his seat, then closed his eyes. "My lucks changing," he muttered, though he knew he still had to deal with his cousin and that never was a pain free encounter.
Kevin awoke with a start and the man beside him chuckled. "We're here," he said and nodded toward the scenery outside of Kevin's window. Kevin blinked the sleepiness from his eyes and focused on his surroundings.
"Seems we are, thanks man," he said, offering his hand. He gripped the stranger's palm in a tight clench, shook it and then opened the car door. He stepped out and closed the door firmly behind him. The driver drove away, leaving Kevin in the mist of some swirling dust and leaves that its tires had kicked up. "Time to face the music," he muttered under his breath and proceeded to walk toward the cabin.
Once there he opened the front door and stepped inside. He breathed in the aroma of homemade chili. His cousin always made the best food. Why the man hadn't gone into Culinary Arts was beyond Kevin's reasoning. But instead the older and much revered cousin had become a boxer and then later he'd left that life to become nothing more than a muscle man for local dives.
Kevin left the foyer of the cottage and made his way to the kitchen. He leaned against the door frame and watched with interests at the two occupants. The woman, one he hadn't met yet, sat in a corner. Her head was bowed and her ankles tied together. Her hands however were free of the restraints that she'd been wearing. Marks on her wrists showed that she'd struggled against some form or rope, but now she was being allowed to use her hands to eat. His cousin's back was turned away from the girl. Kevin glanced at the imposing figure that stood at the sink. He admired his cousin and that was why he was still there. He'd always wanted to be like him, big, balky, smart, cunning, and even strangely attractive with his multiple tattoos.
"Where the fuck have you been? And who the fuck was that?"
Kevin blanched and glanced at the girl. She still hadn't said anything, nor looked up at him. "How long has she been here?" he asked and walked into the room. He stopped in front of the naked woman and bent his knees to stare at her. His hand gripped her hair and he pulled her head back to gaze into her eyes. "Damn she's close. . .I bet you've been using the wig when you mount her though."
"I asked you a question... two in fact."
Kevin winked at the girl's pale features and then released the grip on her hair, rose from his position on the floor, and pulled out a chair from under the table. "I ran into problems. Some asshole wanting to be the next Superhero of Chicago shot me in the leg and I lost her. Then I spent the last week and a half with some slut. Got myself all medicated and tended to, then figured it was time to get back here."
"And the car?"
"Some guy gave me a lift. Nothin' more. Nothin' less," Kevin said. He looked back at the girl again. "So how long have you had her?" he asked again.
His cousin turned. He wiped his hand on a towel and frowned. "Don't matter. I've had enough of her. She's gone all quiet on me and shit. No fun when they do that. You however. . .you really fucked up!" He slammed his fist on the table and growled at Kevin. "I wanted Dee with me this week! I had it all planned out! You were supposed to deliver her. I left work early, drove like a bat out of hell to get here and deal with this bitch! Good thing I waited though, or I'd have been stuck out here alone. This isn't like my apartment in the city. There ain't jack shit to do out here unless you have some company. I was expecting Diane!"
His fist reached out and Kevin took the expected blow. His head snapped back and he felt the second plunge into his face. He didn't try to defend himself. His cousin was right. He'd fucked up and he deserved to be punished. After all that the man before him had done for him, how could he ever strike back.
After the third punch was delivered he waited for the fourth, which never came. He had remained in his seat, though he'd gripped the table with his long, thick fingers. "I'm sorry man," he whispered and then licked his lip. He tasted blood and winced at the small sting of pain that went through him.