In Part 6, Helen takes control of finding out why the money bags are open. She finds Teresa and is not happy about how she finds her, but she can’t say too much about it. Enjoy this bonus post of The Drop House. Figure out where the story goes from here, if you can.
FEATHERWOOD, NEW JERSEY
HELEN PARKED HER VOLVO sedan on the side of Crimson street. Her Glock pistol was in the passenger seat. Old buildings lined the street on both sides. Many were dilapidated. They should have been condemned and torn down. Vacant lots separated most of the buildings. Partial foundations that should have been removed were still there. Other lots were filled with trash, overgrown grass and shrubs, rusty old cars, wood, and different debris. The street was like a wasteland. It was depressing.
Fifty feet in front of Helen were three boys around thirteen or fourteen. They wore baggy pants and oversized jackets. Colorful rags hung from their back pockets. They walked slowly across the street and shot her angry stares. Helen gave them a fake smile. The boys seemed to pause in the middle of the street. Their attention was on Helen. Helen held her gaze on them and intensified it. The boys moved on.
Helen relaxed her grip on the Glock pistol in her lap. She was prepared for whatever came her way. But she was glad nothing came of the stares. Nonconfrontation was the best policy when possible. She watched the boys continue up the street away from her.
Helen glanced down at the digital device in her other hand. It was a six-inch by six-inch silver box. It was an eighth of an inch thick. On the box’s screen was her location. In the far left corner was a blue dot. The dot was the location of Teresa’s Jeep.
Why here? Helen thought.
Helen looked to her left at the warehouse. Teresa’s jeep was parked inside, she thought. She put her car in Drive and drove to where the boys crossed the street. She turned left and parked in front of the warehouse’s delivery door.
That door and the warehouse had not seen anything delivered to it in a decade or longer, she thought. The door was bent. But, it was still closed. Graffiti was painted on it and the building. Gang signs and names made up most of the sprayed on art. She recognized all but one of the gang signs. A new group trying to make their mark, she thought.
She found the building and the area a shame. The building looked sturdy. The area needed sprucing up. It could probably thrive with the right attention. But, for now, time had left this community behind.
Helen put on black gloves, got out of the Volvo and locked it. With the gun hidden at her side, she went to the small door on the side of the warehouse. It was a few feet away and next to the large delivery door. She turned the doorknob. It was locked.
She reached into her pocket and removed a stiff piece of three-inch metal. It was the size of a paper clip. She glanced over her shoulder. Then she jabbed the strip of metal into the keyhole. She twisted it left and right and left and right and pulled it out. She grabbed the doorknob and turned it. The door opened. She looked around and stepped inside and eased the door closed behind her.
Helen looked the space over. It was huge, like a warehouse would be. But, it was cleaner than this warehouse should have been. The floor was painted gray. Lights hung from the ceiling. They were not on. But they were too new for that place. The large space was sectioned off. Sixteen sections were on both sides of the warehouse. A wide walkway went through the middle of the warehouse. Which separated the sections.
Helen wondered what explanation she would hear for the building’s interior décor. It was clean and orderly. Why keep the exterior of the building to appear unlived in?
Noise came from the far end of the building. She exhaled silently. The idea of what awaited her was nothing she wanted to see or deal with. But, there was work to be done. She went toward the noise.
Helen eased her way toward the end of the building. She glanced into each section as she passed. Some had beds in them. Others were designed to look like rooms in a house. There were kitchens, dining rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, family rooms.
The physical tone of the building was not what she wanted to see. She adjusted her grip on the pistol. She was prepared to shoot just in case she was wrong about what she thought she would encounter.
At the last section she peered around the corner of the partition. It was a bit more than she thought she would see.
Inside the space was a king size bed. A naked young man around twenty-five was on the bed. He was tied spread eagle on his back to the bedposts. He was blindfolded. A gag ball was in his mouth. Clothes pins were attached to his genitals, nipples, legs, arms, and the rest of his body. A half-burnt candle was burning on a nightstand near the bed. That explained the drops of wax all over the young man.
“Round three coming up,” a female’s voice came from the other side of the partition.
Helen could not see the woman. She did not have to. She instantly recognized the voice. Helen waited for the female to appear in the space.
A naked woman who was five-feet, six-inches tall, attractive, with long dark hair, and a lean athletic body entered the space. The woman could have been a fitness athlete or kickboxer. Her face and body had a toughness to them. She looked as if she would not have a problem taking care of herself.
The truth was she would not have a problem taking on most people. Her punches had taken down men two-hundred and eighty pounds. That was twice her bodyweight. Her talents were not to be toyed with. Nor was her temper.
Thirty-five-year-old Teresa Messo said to the young man, “Have you missed me.” He moaned and struggled to free himself. He appeared to be more in pain than looking forward to round three.
Helen stepped into the space. “Why don’t…”
Teresa turned quickly toward Helen with a knife in her hand.
“Why?” Teresa asked. Helen had not moved. Not even flinched. “Why would you follow me?” The young man moved his head left and right. “This is my day off. I’m with a friend. You’re standing there watching us. That’s not right. You’re about to ruin my relationship. It’s not right. It’s not fair to us.”
“I quite agree,” Helen said. “It’s not fair. This isn’t right on so many levels. But, who am I to judge? You’re an adult. But, based on the young man’s pleas and groans, I’d say he’s had all he can take for the moment. Wouldn’t you?” Helen smiled. The young man groaned loudly.
“Oh, shut up,” Teresa said to the young man. “You’re just groaning because she’s here. You should be embarrassed. You’re groaning in front of my mother.”
“I’m going to step out until you get rid of your date,” Helen said. “I need you for something.” She left the space and stood on the other side of the partition.
Teresa knew whatever Helen wanted her for was serious. She would not track her down for kicks.
She hurried and untied the man from the bed. He sat up quickly. Then he removed the gag and blindfold. He was not sure if he should take the pins off. The last time he started to take a pin off because it was hurting his nipple, she punched him in the chest. He could not take a full breath for a few minutes.
“Don’t sit there,” Teresa said. “Take that stuff off and get out. I’m busy now.” She picked up her pants and took out a wallet. She removed three one hundred dollar bills and tossed them on the bed. “Should that cover it?” He nodded. He didn’t dare to say no. “Here.” She gave him two hundred dollars more and kissed him. “Next week. Don’t make me have to find you.” She stared at him. “You know what happens if I have to find you?”
“You won’t,” he said. “But I’m not a prostitute. We’re supposed to be dating.”
“Boyfriend?” she asked. “Prostitute? They’re all the same.”
“We’re supposed…” he said before she interrupted him.
“I don’t have time for this now,” she said. “You’ll be what I want you to be.” She stared at him. “Right?”
“Sure,” he said.
“Okay,” she said. “It’s not like I’m not paying you.” He looked down. He wanted to reply. But he could not and would not try it. “Get dressed. Get out. Don’t walk by my mother. Go out the back. Hurry up. I told you I’m busy now.”
He gathered his clothes. Pins were still clipped to his body as he put his clothes on and left.
Teresa walked to the back to make sure he was out of the building. She then walked out to Helen. She was dressed in jeans and a shirt and flats.
Helen looked at her.
“Don’t judge me,” Teresa said. “You invaded my space. Relationships are complex today.”
“I’m not,” Helen said. “You’re a good person for letting that young man go.” Teresa squinted. “But, I believe a relationship should be mutual. Not threatening.”
“To the point, though,” Helen said. “We’ll discuss more of the birds and bees later.” Teresa rolled her eyes. “I need you to fly to Illinois. Take a jet. Then drive to Podeka. Bags are opened. Mark’s panicking. Call me and tell me what’s going on. Only me. Mark is panicked enough.”
“I’m gone,” Teresa said. “We’ll leave within thirty minutes.”
Teresa had a two-to-three man team that went with her to check on the bags when necessary. Nothing ever got by them. Money had never been stolen or lost. Not even for a day.
“Where’s your car?” Helen asked.
“Apparently, you know,” Teresa said.
Helen smiled and kissed her on the cheek. “Be safe out there,” Helen said. “I love you.”
“Mom,” Teresa said. “You don’t have to always say that. I know you love me. And, I’ll be safe.”
Helen held Teresa’s head with both hands. “I know you will,” Helen said. “But I’m allowed to worry. Aren’t I?” She kissed Teresa on the cheek again. Then she whispered in her ear. “Try not to kill anyone, if possible.”
“I’ll try,” Teresa said. Helen gave her an incredulous stare. “I promise. I’ll try my best. You know I can’t control what people do.” Helen sighed. “But, I’ll try.”
“Less attention is better than more,” Helen said in her soft scolding tone.
“Okay, mom,” Teresa said. “I better get going. I’ll lock up behind you.”
Helen gave Teresa a half smile. She thought Teresa was lucky she was not more screwed up than she was. After all, she had been through more than most. She and Mark earned millions a month from the business John, their father, left them. But, Teresa purchased an old warehouse and that was where she spent her time. It was where she brought her dates, if they could be called dates. She did not want them in her home. It was obvious she enjoyed forcing men to give her what they did not want to. And they were too afraid to say no to her.
That warehouse layout was not lost on Helen either. Teresa did not only buy it for her pleasure. It was a movie location. Not movies for families either.
Teresa’s behavior was destructive. Helen thought she should be in therapy. But, that would be hypocritical of her, since she played a major role for Teresa’s inability to get along in society and show respect for others. Before she could suggest anyone go to therapy, maybe she should go to therapy first, Helen told herself.
Helen glanced back at Teresa. Teresa blew her a kiss. Helen blew one back and walked out the door. Teresa closed and locked the door behind her.
I hope you enjoyed Part 6 and meeting Teresa. She has a few issues to work on. But she is good at her job. See you on Monday. Have a great weekend. Thank you for joining me.