Inspector W. Percy was beyond trivial paperwork like warrants. He’d been so for years now and, despite the occasional showy kibitzer snooping from Internal Affairs, never got a complaint off it. And why would he? Percy got results.
He saw Dick, the third leg of his operation more often than not, to be on the other end of the spectrum. It wasn’t like Dick to come up with leads or solicit information from sources. So when Dick insisted on dragging him to one of the few rooms in the precinct with a VCR machine, Percy was, to say the least, skeptical.
“What?” He glared at Dick. “You’re putting me on.”
“Well, the manager of the Ontario Warehouse gave us the tip,” Dick warbled, putting the tape he’d acquired into the VCR.
“Is it really him?”
Dick stuck the VHS into the machine. “It seems a security camera picked it up…” He thumbed the pause key not five seconds in… “Right here!”
“Huh?!” Percy bolted upright in his seat. The sleek crimson chassis, painted in dun streaks of Chicago street lights stretching from one end of the TV screen to the other was unmistakable. “ROAD BUSTER?!” He barked out a cackle.
“Yes, and you’ll never guess who’s in the back seat! Look at what the computer enlargement shows.” Dick reached into his pocket and whipped out a freshly made blow-up.
“Oh hey, err, that’s uh…” He felt a distinct inkling that the answer was somehow important to his detective work.
Framed in the center of the Road Buster’s sporty-yet-aggressive rear side coupe window was a frightened Caucasian girl with hair cut straight across her forehead and dressed in something with a frocked collar.
“It’s Chelsea Grimwood, no doubt about it. Outfit’s the same too.” Dick grinned. “It’s a sure bet the Road Buster is involved in the kidnapping.”
Percy paused, turning his glance away from the photo to his partner. The last thing he’d ever expected from him was real detective work. He beamed from ear to ear.
“Yup!” Dick said.
“Hmm, I see!”
“Now we can go after him with impunity,” Dick said, using a word he’d recently picked up in a dictionary.
Percy slapped him on the back and ruffled his hair. “Good work!” Maybe his Dick wasn’t so hopeless after all. He shoved his head clear down against his lap.
“Just you wait, Road Buster. I’ll finish you off for sure! I’ll run you over ‘till your BRAINS SPILL OUT!”
They stashed Grimwood at a safe motel, complete covert soundproofing built into hollows between the stucco and an immaculate counterfeit City of Chicago business license.
Grimwood opened his eyes to see door open. In walked a girl no older than 13 or 14 with an apron tied around her, pink hair in a loose toss and room service tray in hand. “How are you feeling today? Heheh, Mr. Grimwood,” she said.
“Not good. Terrible.”
She laid the tray down on the table adjacent to the chair he sat cuffed on. “Do you take mustard?”
“Yes, please,” he said. “Can I ask you something?”
“What?” She took the bun off the burger to mustard it.
“My daughter Chelsea, you will return her safely, right?”
“I imagine she’s already home, or with the police by now.”
“I see,” he shifted the cuffs around his wrists. “Would you let me watch TV or listen to the radio?”
The girl chortled. “No way! Semmer will get mad at me!” She put the bun back where it belonged.
The girl’s partner in crime. He looked over at her. “Exactly what is she to you?”
The girl beamed at him as his own daughter had so many times before, a gesture etched deep into his subconscious. “She’s my lover!”
He could not conceal his surprise. “H-how old are you anyways?”
She untied the apron and folded it over her forearm, revealing a white t-shirt and nondescript belted jeans. “It isn’t polite to ask a woman her age,” she said.
“Anyways, hurry up and eat. We’re leaving here right after Semmer gets back.” She turned to walk out of the room.
“Uh, just a moment!” He raised his cuffed hands. She paused and he lowered them once more. “No, nothing.”
She turned again.
“Just a second!”
“What is it?!”
“No, this is for real… I have to go to the bathroom.”
She’d seen similar feeble escape attempts before. “Semmer’s got the key to your leg cuffs if that’s what you want.”
“Well I can’t do that, but I still have to, well, you know… I can’t hold it much longer.”
“No problem! Look under the table.”
It was a standard transparent hospital pan. It would get the job done. As he reached for it the girl stepped forward once again. “Can you step outside for a bit?” He said.
“But you’ll have a hard time with those cuffs on.” She raised a finger, as innocent as a grade schooler coming up to solve a math problem on the board. “Shall I help you?”
His eyebrow twitched. He felt his mouth tighten into narrow line under his mustache. “No. That’s all right.”
She smiled. “Oh no, I can’t have you make a mess on the carpet!” She leaned forward. “Let me help you.”
He felt sweat bead onto his scalp underneath his toupee. “No! No! I, uh, still haven’t had a shower today, I must be filthy!”
“Then I’ll clean it up.” She reached between the cuffs for the fly of his pants.
“It’s OK, I’m great at it. Semmer always praises me.” She lowered her head.
“Stop it!” He stabbed out blindly his right elbow, connecting with her temple and sending her flying against the couch on the far wall. “Oh! I’m… sorry…”
She stood, pulling a switchblade from some hidden pocket. “What’d you go and do that for?!” She said, her voice having turned 180 degrees. The light filtered through the closed blinds zebra striped the anger painted on her face. “I was just trying to be nice! How’d you like it if I sliced it off?”
“Little girls shouldn’t do things like that.”
“Don’t preach to me, old man! You’ve done terrible things behind your nice act haven’t you?”
He sighed. “You don’t understand.” He zipped his pants up.
“You didn’t get to be a rich bastard by being a nice guy.”
“Did she tell you that?”
The girl lowered the blade. “Yes, she tells me all the time.”
“And you believe what that thug tells you?”
A third voice cleared her throat from the door to the room. “’That thug’ you called me?” Semmerling chuckled. “In some circles I’m considered a lady.”
The girl’s face lit like a traffic light. “Semmer! Welcome back!” She ran to her benefactor, knife forgotten.
“’Hello, Carrie’ is what I want to say, but…”
Carrie looked up, bemused. “What?”
Semmerling sighed. “I wonder if you’re not being overly hospitable to our hostage?”
Carrie sucked her gums, somehow Semmer had known. “Uh-oh, you saw that—“ She was cut off by the flat of Semmerling’s hand cracking against her cheek.
“Don’t you try to put one over on me.” Semmerling went down with the hand for a backhand across the opposite cheek. And a third. She yanked down on Carrie’s shoulders, leaning her into the kneecap that rose to strike her in the pubescent gut. The black silk around her leg ran. “You, you little,” she hammered her elbow down into the hollow between the girl’s shoulder blades, “SLUT!”
Grimwood gasped. The sweat poured across his face now. “Stop it!”
Carrie crumpled onto her knees. Somewhere in between choking and sobbing she managed to speak. “I… I’m… S-sorry, Mistress!”
Semmerling grabbed her by her pink hair and raised her onto her feet. “I wonder if I missed teaching you all the essentials?”
“I’m sorry! I won’t do it anymore, I promise!”
Her benefactor muted her with a hand around the jaw in a grip that could have easily wrenched vertebrae from vertebrae in the nape of the 13-year-old neck if she so desired. “If you do anything like this again…”
“Please stop!” Grimwood said, leaning forward.
“I-I’ll obey your every word, Mistress. Please forgive me.”
She shut the girl up with a slow kiss on her swollen lips. Grimwood’s eyes widened, so it hadn’t been a bluff after all.
“Come on, we’re leaving. Get your stuff together.”
Carrie was overjoyed. “’KAY!” She ran off out of the room.
Despite his disadvantaged position, Grimwood scowled. “You rotten bitch.” He rose from the chair.
The Beretta Cheetah, nine millimeter Kurz semi-automatic pistol Semmerling produced from her blazer pocket convinced him otherwise. “Now, now, that’s not nice. Hostages shouldn’t talk like that.”
He sat back down. “And Chelsea?”
“I left her with a pro. With luck she should already be home.”
He raised an eyebrow. “A pro?”
She stepped forward, holding the Beretta at the ready towards Grimwood’s face. “Bean Bandit. Maybe you know of him,” she said, knowing full well that he did.
“Road Buster. I’ve heard a lot about him.”
“Ah, well if he puts on his characteristic show then it’ll make it that much easier for us to get away.”
“What do you mean by—“
She jabbed the Beretta’s black metallic nose under his. “I suggest you shut up. For the time being you are a paying guest, so I don’t want any violence. Come, it’s time to go. If you would care to follow me?”