RavMe Ch. 05-06bytorquedtales©
Kelly considered calling in sick Monday morning, but figured she should face the tooth-wrenching music and get it over with. During a cathartic subway ride to work, she decided to come clean with Detective Kaine. Armed with copies of the contracts bearing her electronically forged signature and falsified Web pages, she would call Kaine and set up an appointment over her lunch hour. She hoped the good detective with the nail complex would help her cold-cock two birds with one stone by accompanying her to the Enrapture Inc. office in Soho for a face-off with Dr. Karillian.
The blue orb on Jeanette Wilmont's right hand bobbed on the wave of her drumming fingers. Her sallow cheeks stretched tight from her bony jaw. She waited for Kelly to finish explaining why she had come to work covered in cuts and bruises in a little black dress with thin straps and a fancy fringed shawl. Her professional cool cracked apart when she heard Kelly mention the stolen CD. The blue diamond flew up with her hand in frantic gesticulation. "I really don't know what to do with you, Ms. Roy. You are still on probation with this firm, and so far you have proved yourself highly unreliable. This is a very serious matter which I am going to have to take up with the board of directors, and that puts me in a bad position not to mention a very bad mood. Ugh," she grunted in disgust. "This could lead to copyright violations and costly litigation, Ms. Roy. Do you realize that?" The burning question lit the funeral pyre for Kelly's self-esteem.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Wilmont." The tear-gates opened.
"Stop blubbering and get to work on whatever Brad might have. Just get out of my sight." Jeanette Wilmont had long ago sacrificed all womanly sympathies on the altar of cold-hearted corporate gods.
Kelly crept back to her workstation and wept.
"What on earth happened to you?" It was Trisha who was sporting a fiery new do. She touched the soft red curls. "Do you like it?"
Kelly pretended not to be disturbed. "Sure," she sandwiched between two sobs.
Trisha checked around to see if anyone was eaves-dropping. She spoke in low tones. "I heard about your attack." Her hazel eyes hopped across the markings on Kelly's neck and arms. "Must have been terrifying for you."
Kelly drew her shawl to cover what she could of the eye-catching atrocities on her skin. "It surely was, but I put up a fight and chased him off," she lied and recriminated herself for not having proved a better fighter from all that her dearly departed brothers had taught her.
Trisha noticed the NAGA trophy on Kelly's worktable and picked it up. "When did you get this?"
"Saturday for a contest I entered months ago. I thought it might convince Ms. Wilmont I'm not a total loser." She took it from Trisha's hand and sighed.
Out of the corner of her eye, Trisha saw Brad approaching. "If you need to talk," was all she offered in the way of hasty consolation. She greeted Brad and walked back to the secured server room.
"Kelly." Brad dropped her name like a lead plumb. "My office. We need to talk in private."
Kelly followed him to the small room with the park-side view. She sat in the chair in front of his desk and endured his harsh gaze. Her skin crawled with his ogling her exposed injuries. She could not contain her crying for the sight of the lurid grin on his face. "Why are you looking at me like that? Do you think this is funny?"
He pulled some tissue from a box on his desk and passed it to her. "Don't cry, Kelly. I'm just smiling for the fact you're all right."
"Get real," she sassed and blew her nose.
"You're right. I guess I find your getup a little silly. No offense," he rebounded.
"It's all I got to wear. That maniac destroyed everything. I should be getting a new credit card today or tomorrow, so," she settled down with the self-reassurance. "Ms. Wilmont said you had something for me to work on."
"Ah, yes. You can begin by sorting and filing these clippings." He pointed to a cardboard box brimming with glossy images on the floor beside his desk. "The file cabinet's out in the main area. You will note the categories listed on each folder and sort accordingly."
Kelly swallowed bitterly. "You're relegating me to menial clerical work?"
"Don't take it that way. I just don't have anything else at the moment."
"What about that Beverly woman's project?" Why the idea sprang from her head onto her lips was beyond her reason. Her eyebrows perked to the stunned look on his face.
"How do you know about that?"
"I found some of her files on my workstation computer. Looked like a great project. I would be happy to--"
Brad cut her off and made her jump with a slap to the surface of his desk. "I want you to do filing work, is that clear?"
Kelly had pushed a sensitive button. The reins of control had briefly changed into her hands, and she felt good. She stood up, picked up the box, and set out the door in subtle albeit shaky triumph.
During her break, she contacted Detective Kaine via the payphone in the building lobby. The lawwoman said she was indeed available to meet Kelly during her brief lunch hour. When the time arrived, Kelly hastened to the front of the building. As she stood waiting for the detective to arrive, she sensed a presence behind her. She stood to see the blind beggar tapping his white cane behind her. Feeling sorry for his plight, she opened her bag. "Man, you are on a roll with me, Mac. All I got is this fiver." She put it in his cup. Before he could utter his thanks, the plainclothes detective drove up to the curb in the unmarked Chevy Caprice.
"So, Ms. Roy, you told me on the phone you might know who's behind your assault, which could prove very helpful since our investigation has turned up new information as well." Detective Kaine deftly navigated the congested streets of mid-town Manhattan.
Kelly reached into her purse and pulled out a sheaf of folded up papers. She opened them up to read the address to the detective. "If you don't mind, we need to go here and talk with this Dr. Karillian guy. I think he's behind all this, but I don't rightly know how or why."
"Karillian," Kaine repeated and steered southbound. Within a quarter of an hour, they pulled up to the black high-rise building. They rode the steel-lined elevator to the floor where Kelly expected to spot the onyx reception counter. Instead, she saw the psychedelic colors of a hip hair salon. "I don't understand," she murmured.
Detective Kaine asked for the manager who stepped out from a back office. The bald man in the yellow-tinted glasses and pointed goatee assured his visitors in a suave Brazilian accent that his salon had occupied the suite for several years. Before Kelly could react, Detective Kaine pulled her from the scene of inquiry.
"I'm telling you, he's lying, I was here but a week ago and this place was not in existence!" Kelly's insistence bordered on hysterics.
"Take it easy girl." Detective Kaine cautioned. "You might have confused the address. After all, you are new to the city."
Kelly settled back in the passenger seat of the detective's car and second-guessed herself. "I'm certain this was where I came." She watched street signs pass overhead then noticed the police station's façade looming up in her line of vision. "What are we doing here? I have to get back to work."
"Not until we get some answers, Ms. Roy." Detective Kaine rolled into her designated spot and turned off the car with a decisive twist of the wrist. A tinkling sound drew Kelly's eye to the charm bracelet the detective wore. An elongated silver rectangle beckoned a curious stare but was gone in a flash when the detective got out of the car.
Kelly found herself sitting in a folding chair with a torn padded sear at a metal table surrounded by walls of white-washed cinderblocks. A large two-way mirror filled up one of the walls. "Would you like some water or coffee?" Detective Kaine offered.
"Some coffee please, black if you don't mind." Kelly rubbed her throbbing temples. "Am I under arrest?"
"Have you heard your rights read to you?"
"Then you're not under arrest." The detective went out the door and expeditiously returned with a steaming Styrofoam cup. She set it on the table in front of Kelly then took a seat opposite Kelly. She leaned back in her chair and crossed her long legs. Her badge shone from the belt of her black skirt. Her loaded shoulder holster peeked suggestively from under the lapel of her tan blazer.
"Then why, pray tell, am I here?" Kelly fussed and sipped.
Detective Kaine leaned over the table and laced her long-nailed fingers together. "I have serious concerns about your account, Ms. Roy."
A sharp rap at the closed door turned both their heads. In stepped a young male officer with a precision crew cut and sour demeanor. "Here's the file, detective." He handed a manila folder to Kaine and left the room. The door shut with a click.
Kaine flipped it open and drew out the documents. Her brown eyes swathed in cosmetic enhancement surveyed the news. She looked up at Kelly and slid the pages across the table over to her side.
Kelly read the glaring black on white. "You think I'm responsible?"
"The evidence points that way. See the credit card receipt for the online sex paraphernalia store? It bears your account number and user name." The tip of her long red nail landed on the item in question. "And look here," she added more slush to the pile.
Kelly's eyes bulged to see copies of the ravishment contracts and scene descriptions brandishing her picture and name. "How did you get these?'
"Is there something you're not telling me, or are you simply ashamed to divulge a secret vice, Ms. Roy?" Kaine's brow crinkled with feigned concern. Fearing her blush would denote embarrassment not fury, Kelly She shied away from the detective's gaze.
"Look, Ms. Roy. This is New York City where people do all sorts of things they're not proud of, but that doesn't necessarily make what they do criminal in nature. Nothing evident in this file, for example, merits a chargeable offense. However, filing false reports with the police does. Now, if you want to avoid prosecution, you'll come clean with me about all this." She spread her hands out in a gesture of magnanimity.
The dangling charms on the detective's right hand swam in Kelly's watery eyes. "I swear on the holy souls of my beloved father and four brothers that I had nothing to do with this sick behavior." She unwound the spool of the sordid events that had befallen her from the pseudo-Spiderman encounter to the incident with the masked sadist. She described her meeting with Karillian and her credit debacle. She showed the crumpled, grease-stained copies the mystery agent had given her. Detective Kain reached over and took them into her claws. "Can I keep these? Maybe we can get trace evidence."
"I don't think you'll find any prints except my own. He always wore gloves," Kelly hazarded.
"And you've never seen his face or heard him mention his name?" Kain queried.
"I've seen parts of his face but not enough to put a composite together."
"Well, maybe you should work with a sketch artist anyway. You never know what you might come up with." Kaine stood up and collected the papers into a batch.
Kelly balked. "Not that I don't want to be cooperative and all, but if I don't get back to work, my boss'll have my skinny Kentucky behind served up on a platter."
"All right, Ms. Roy. Come at your convenience." She stood up and pulled open the door and graciously arranged for a patrol car to take Kelly to her place of work.
As soon as Kelly approached the reception area for the Emvar Design Group, she was met by a building security guard in a gray uniform. A cardboard box sat on the floor by the door. She peered down to see her personal items -- her headphone set, her disc player, a pell-mell collection of CDs, a picture of her family set in a silver frame, a bottle of fruit-flavored water, a bottle of kiwi-scented lotion, a hairbrush, a rainbow slinky, a mini Zen garden -- beneath a pink slip and a sealed envelope. "What is this?"
"I have to ask you to come with me, Ms. Roy," said the guard. "I've been ordered to escort you out of the building."
"Apparently your employment with this firm has been terminated." The large man with the greased-back hair and oily complexion picked up the box and handed it to her. "If you'll please follow me."
"Now just hold on a doggone second!" she shouted. "I'm not leaving without my trophy."
"My NAGA award that I won with my work -- It's on my desk, and I want it." She moved toward the work area.
The second guard blocked her way. "Sorry, ma'am. You're prohibited to go in there."
"Oh, you can't trust me not to pilfer a company pen, but you can outright steal my stuff!" she shouted at the top of her mezzo-soprano range.
"Please, ma'am, simmer down." The guard spread his arms to block her passage.
"I am not leaving without getting back that which is rightfully mine!" She stomped her foot like a mad mare.
"Don't force me to call the police and have you forcibly removed," warned the burly guard.
"What's all the ruckus?" Brad challenged as he stepped into the reception area. He cast her a pitying look from his towering height.
Kelly muzzled her howling rage. "Why are you doing this to me and where is my trophy?"
"I'm sorry Kelly. But your personal problems are interfering with your productivity. You understand," he condescended.
"I want my friggin' trophy. If I don't get it, I'm going to do some real damage, come hell or high water or the police."
"Take it easy. I'm sure someone overlooked it. Stay here and let me see what I can do." He sauntered away to return in a few minutes with the twisting golden flame. "Her you are. It was right on your desk." He placed a hand on her shoulder. "Look, Kelly. I like you. I think you're a sweet girl. If you need a recommendation, don't hesitate to call me." She clenched her jaw in vexation over his feigned concern. "I'll be fine without it, I'm sure." She slipped out from under his paw and took her box, trophy and all, down the hall. "Mind if I use the facility before I go?"
Brad shook his head. "Not at all. But, uh, Kelly. Be sure to turn in your key badge to security downstairs." He winked and smiled before walking back into the office.
Kelly went quietly into the restroom immediately unleashed her Celtic fury. With no concern for possible occupants, she violently kicked in the stall doors to set them flapping wildly on their hinges. She threw all the rolls of toilet paper into the bowls and flushed. She turned on all the faucets and emptied out the paper towels from their dispensers. She pulled out a tube of lipstick from her purse and wrote the words: "How dare you fuck with my livelihood, you egomaniacal pricks."
The guard approached her in the hallway. He was munching on a bear claw and chugging back coffee from a paper cup. "What happened? I thought I heard a disturbance," he mumbled through a mouthful.
"Nothing," Kelly declared before walking to the elevator. She rode the fourteen floors and summarily deposited her key badge with the desk officer. She pushed through the revolving doors and out into the street. Her tears dripped onto her meager possessions inside the box. She took up the envelope and fumbled to open it with a single hand. There was the payoff for her humiliation staring her in the face: a check for one thousand dollars, not even enough to cover her rent. She headed south on Broadway to the nearest First Bank where she intended to cash in her token and find out about her confiscated ATM card.
"What do you mean I am overdrawn?" she asked incredulously. "There has got to be an error. I haven't made a withdrawal since I arrived in the city."
"It seems several ATM transactions were made over the past week, amounting to $5,000. You are overdrawn by $2,000," the teller with the unpronounceable name and distinct Indian accent explained from behind the bulletproof glass. Kelly shook her fiery mane. "No, no, no, no, no. I'm telling you it's not possible. I only tried to use my card yesterday and the machine ate it. I—"
"This check will help cover the deficit, but I'm afraid you are still overdrawn."
The bank manager was of no more help or consolation than the teller with his professional indifference. He ogled Kelly's bruises and cuts that she had ineffectively tried to cover with her skimpy shawl; he feebly shook Kelly's hand in limp promise that they would start an investigation into the matter.
"Well, what am I supposed to do? Hell, I gave my last five bucks to a homeless guy this morning. I don't even have enough to buy a stick of gum."
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but there is nothing we can do at this time." He urged her toward the door before she erupted in an ugly scene.
Kelly walked out of the bank burdened with far more the weight of her box. The entire world was flattening her like a steamroller. She looked up into the late afternoon sky and saw the Caravaggio angel looking down from the side of a building. "Yeah, well, fuck you angel! Fuck you for looking at me but not after me!" The impact of a person slamming into her rocked her back on her heels. She dropped the box to the ground. When she bent down to pick it up, she saw the tip of a white cane. She looked over to see the rag-covered blind man with the wrapped up face staring at her. He had fallen to the ground. "I am so sorry!" she scrambled to help him up before one of herd of passersby tripped over him.
He latched firmly onto her arm without saying a word. "Why do you curse him?" The vagrant asked.
"I heard you," he wheezed from beneath his bandages and held firm. "You cursed the angel above. Why?"
Fearful of his intent, Kelly tried to pull free. "Look," Kelly said on the brink of tears. "I... I don't have any more money to give you, but here." She reached into her box and pulled up the trophy. "Take this. I'm sure you can sell it. In fact, take the whole box. There's a CD player and... and..." She placed the cardboard box in his arms and ran off toward the subway. She scampered down the stairs and scoured her purse for the token that would remove her from the scene of her crumbling life.
Kelly rode the trains for several hours to empty her soul. She hopped from transfer to transfer until she circumnavigated the island. Finally, she steered herself homeward.
It was dark when she came out onto East 9th Street. She trudged wearily over to the phone booth in front of her building and punched "0" for the operator. "I'd like to place a collect call, please." She droned the number to her mother's house. When her mother's slurred voice came on the phone, Kelly broke out into tears. "Mama, I hate to ask but you gotta help me. I need money to get home. I--" she broke off to listen to the drunken rant on the other end. "Yes, I know I promised you money, Mama, but something terrible's happened and I--" Kelly clicked the receiver up and down. "Mama, don't hang up! Mama!" She let the receiver drop to the end of its cord and pushed through the folding doors. She crept up the stoop to her building and rode the rickety elevator to her floor. She entered the foreboding darkness of her poverty and tripped over a cardboard box. "What the--?" she exclaimed. The hairs rose on her nape to see a figure sitting on the edge of her bed.
"Where've you been?" he asked.
"How did you get in here?"
"I have my methods." He stood up to pounce in case she'd rush for the door.
Kelly considered fleeing but found herself too low on steam. Her eyes squinted with the flick of the bathroom light. There before her stood the man with the white cane, bandaged face and dark glasses.