Please enjoy Chapter 6. I had to be a little late getting this chapter to you. Chapter 7 will be out in a couple of days. Enjoy.
BRYAN LOOKED AT CRYSTAL. “No one was trying anything,” he said. “He was just worried about me.”
“If he does try something you’ll get it first,” she said. “Believe me.”
“He wasn’t trying anything,” he said. “No one wants to hurt you or your granddaughter. He’s my friend. He was concerned about me. You waving that gun around all careless and everything. Don’t help anything.”
“First of all, it’s you are waving that gun around carelessly,” she said. “Not whatever the hell you just said.”
“Miss Vanner,” he said. “No disrespect. But I don’t want an English lesson right now.” She told him he needed one. “I don’t want one now.” She stared at him. “Can I go back to what I was about to show you?”
“I’m waiting,” she said. He shook his head and knelt down and reached inside the bag. “Don’t try anything.” She took a few steps back with the gun pointed at his head. “I know how to use this. You may think I’m a weak helpless teacher. You’ll get a surprise.”
His face recoiled away from her. “I wish you wouldn’t do that,” he said, cutting his eyes to the gun. “You asked me in. You asked me to show you why you’d want this. I’m trying to show you.” He looked up sideways at her. “Do you want me to or not? You could’ve looked yourself if you didn’t trust me.”
She stared at him. “You had better not be up to anything,” she said. “I’m not kidding. You’re not my student anymore. You’re an intruder. I can shoot you.”
“You invited me in,” he said, holding his hands up.
“That was then, before you and your friend pulled that stunt,” she said. “And this is now.” She tapped her foot.
“Fine,” he said. “I’m going to take things out of the bag. Don’t shoot me.” He reached one hand in the bag and brought out a package wrapped in white butcher’s paper. “Veal.” He put it on the floor. “I need two hands for the next thing.” She waved the gun for him to go on. “I wish you wouldn’t wave that around like that.” She tapped her foot and stared at him. He put both hands in the bag and came out with an aluminum covered tray. “Lasagna, sausages, and meatballs. All freshly prepared.” He set the tray on the floor.
“How do I know that you and your idiot sidekick out there didn’t urinate or defecate in that food?” she asked.
“You don’t,” he said. “But, we didn’t. My aunt would kill me. And then she’d kill him.” He waited to see if she was going to say anything else. “Can I continue?” She pursed her lips. “I’m going to slide the bag over to you. Nice and slow.” He now seemed sarcastic as opposed to scared of the gun in her hand.
She leaned over and looked into the bag. Two stacks of bills were inside the bag with a rubber band around each one. A one hundred dollar bill was on the front of each stack. She looked at him and back down at the bag. Then she took a step back and watched him. Bryan stood up and said nothing for a minute.
“Miss Vanner,” he said. “There’s ten grand in that bag. A woman on a fixed income may have use for that money. Tax-free. No strings attached.” She stared and pursed her lips. “What I’m saying is I know your granddaughter. We’re about the same age. Kelly is a good person. Unfortunately, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. No one takes a shortcut through that area. No one does. She could’ve found herself beaten, raped, or worse. She could’ve disappeared. Why? Because she simply took a shortcut through that filth of a neighborhood to get home. That’s why.”
“So, your brother was her moral guide that night, her guardian angel?” she asked. “Because that’s not what she told me. And she hasn’t talked to the police, yet. But they’ve wanted to talk to her. She’s hesitant. I would’ve already done it.
Her story was not short of horrific. Your brother and his two friends apparently nailed the doors shut to that old house. Poured gas all around it. Then set it on fire. They were wearing city employee’s uniforms. Kelly recognized your brother. She knew he didn’t work for the city or anywhere. He’s a bum and always will be.
She actually ran up to those murderers.” She paused. Bryan squinted.
“She tried to get them to let the people out from inside that house,” she said. “When they wouldn’t do it she ran past them and tried to kick the door open.
Your brother grabbed her and held her back. When she struggled to get free he threw her to the ground and told her to go home. If not, she would be next.” Crystal paused and watched his expression.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” she said. “Horrifying isn’t it? What turned Kelly’s stomach was hearing the people inside that house pound on the doors and scream while being burned alive.” She looked at Bryan.
He had hard time holding eye contact with her. That was not the story his brother told him. His brother had said that he and his friends did not know anyone was inside the house until it was too late. And that Kelly must have watched them without them knowing it. He never mentioned holding her back and threatening her.
Bryan swallowed. “Be that as it may, Miss Vanner,” he said. “Kelly is twenty-four. She doesn’t need to get herself mixed up in something she knows nothing about. The people in that house were dirt bags. They preyed on people who couldn’t defend themselves. Paul saw fit to put an end to it.”
“You mean they encroached on your family’s territory,” she said.
“You know how this works, Miss Vanner,” he said. “You know our family’s history. Will you take the bag on Kelly’s behalf…and yours?” He paused. “There’ll be more in the future. Not to mention that we’ll owe you a favor.” He stood there waiting for her response.
She leaned over and picked up the bag. “I don’t expect to see you here anymore,” she said. “That means your brother, too. And you tell your friend at the bottom of the steps, if he has in mind getting even with me for hurting his feelings, my sons will hunt him down, along with their police friends, and skin him alive.” Bryan knew her family came from a long line of cops. Some did not always go by the book. “You tell him that for me.”
“I will,” he said. “Thank you, Miss Vanner.” He turned and walked out the door.
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