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In a previous chapter, Helen sent Teresa to Podeka, Kansas to find out what was going on with their money.  George and Patti, who were in Podeka, Kansas, are making up their minds whether or not to steal the money from their dead friends’ house.  While these events are unfolding, Helen has some personal business to take care of in New Jersey.  And, she will reveal there is much more to her than being a receptionist.  Enjoy Parts 8 & 9 of “The Drop House.”  Get to know a little more about Helen.

 

PART 8

 

KENT, NEW JERSEY

 

HELEN PARKED THE BLACK Ford Taurus between two old apartment buildings.  She had left her Volvo in a parking lot twenty miles away.  It was where she exchanged her Volvo for the Taruas.  Unlike her Volvo, the Taruas was not registered to her.  It was registered to Belinda Carter.

 

Belinda Carter was a fictitious person.  Her past, however, was as real as any living person.  She was married, had four children, traveled, played the piano, played bridge, was self-employed as an accountant and a kind person.  If anything happened to the Taruas, Belinda was the name to contact.

The Drop House cover 1

Helen reached over in the passenger seat under a newspaper and grabbed her Glock pistol.  A silencer was on it.  She ejected the clip, checked it and pushed it back in.  She chambered a round.

 

She then mentally went over a few details of her day.  She had located Teresa.  Teresa was en route to check on the duffel bags of money.  She had updated Mark on Teresa’s status.  Mark was anxious and wanted an update from Teresa ASAP.  Helen told him she was sure it was just a fluke event that had caused the confusion with the bags.  She had told him everything would soon be under control again.

 

Helen told Mark she had a few errands to run before returning to the office.  Callie, her assistant, would stay at the office until she returned.

 

Now was her time to take care of some personal business, Helen thought.

 

Helen put the pistol inside her coat pocket.  The silencer poked through a custom made hole in the pocket.  She got out of the car and put her gloved hand inside her pocket and gripped the pistol.  She looked around and headed for the rusty metal steps in front of her.

 

The steps were attached to the outside of one of the apartment buildings.  She walked up two flights of the rickety steps.  Her heels clicked on each step.

 

At the top of the steps was apartment 301.  She knocked on the door and heard noises coming from inside.  She waited and listened.  The door did not open.  She knocked again.

 

“I’m Darcy Hempton, Frank,” Helen said loudly.  “Your new parole officer.”

 

Helen stood to the side of the door and listened.  Footsteps ran across the floor.  Toilets flushed.  More footsteps ran across the floor.  Someone was spraying with an aerosol can.

 

“Frank, I smell drugs,” Helen yelled.  “Do I need to call Raymond Delgado and tell him you’ve broken your parole?  We’ll send you back to prison today.  Which is too bad because I was just assigned your file.”  More running and noise came from inside the apartment.  “Open up, Frank!”  She pounded her fist on the door.  “You know the rules.  I can check on you at any time I want.  If you don’t open this door in five seconds, you’re back in prison for your full seven-year term.  One…”

 

There was a click.  The door jerked open.  A skinny black male approximately six-feet wearing a tee-shirt and jeans stood in the doorway.  Tattoos were on both arms.  A skull tattoo was on the side of his neck.

 

“I don’t have to talk to you,” he said.  “I only have to talk to Raymond Delgado.  I don’t know you.”

 

“Then why did you answer the door?” Helen asked.  “You are Frank Bower.”  He rolled his eyes and looked away.  “Because you know there’s only one reason I’d be in this filthy neighborhood, standing at this door, talking to a felon and gang member.  Think about it before you do something stupid and send yourself back to prison.  Why would a sixty-four-year-old grandmother, white grandmother at that, be caught dead standing here with you?”

 

“Your white ass isn’t better than me,” he said.  “Matter of fact, I’m not saying anything else to you.  Get away from my door.  White bitch.”  He went to close the door.

 

“I wouldn’t do that,” she said.

 

Frank had the door halfway closed.  He stopped the door from closing all the way.  He wanted to slam it in her face.  But he knew she was right.  There was only one reason a white bitch like her would be at his door.  She must have his case file.  This bitch was his new parole officer.  Shit.  She was going to be worse than Raymond.

 

“You want to call Raymond and find out who I am?” she asked.  Frank looked off and sighed.  “Raymond’s state.  I’m federal.  And federal doesn’t supply parole officers.  So that means if I’m here, you’ve really screwed up.”  He exhaled and bit his bottom lip.  “I’m willing to start off with you with a clean slate.  But, we can call Raymond.  Then I’ll add whatever he says about you to my files.  Or, we can start off civilly.  I don’t know you.  You don’t know me.  Fresh start.  Your call.”

 

He sighed and shook his head.  This woman was going to make his life rough, he thought.

 

“And, by the way, you got it wrong,” she said.  “You’re going to want to talk to me.  Because I’m going to help you.  And this isn’t about your race.  The reason I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you has nothing to do with you being black.  It’s your attitude.  It stinks.  That I do know.  Now be a good boy and open the door and let me in.  Before our relationship gets off on the wrong foot.”

 

He wanted to choke her to death.  Who the hell did she think she was, calling him a boy?  He could kill that old bitch before she could raise a hand at him.  He hesitated and opened the door.  With a hand, he motioned for her to go inside.

 

“You first,” she said, motioning with her hand for him to go inside.

 

He walked in.  She followed him inside, gripping the pistol in her pocket.

 

Frank was unaware that Helen had used that small window of talking to him outside his door to do quick surveillance.  She had looked through the opening in the doorway to see inside his apartment.  She was reasonably certain that there was no one inside waiting to jump her.

 

Her finger had slid on the pistol’s trigger, just in case she was wrong.

 

PART 9

 

KENT, NEW JERSEY

 

HELEN LOOKED AROUND THE apartment.  It was small, maybe six hundred square feet.  Clothes were everywhere—floor, sofa, chairs.  Piles of clothes were in the corners.  The place stunk.  The stench was of chemically treated marijuana and burnt aluminum foil.  Rotten eggs and skunk came to mind.  Judging by the burnt dishes and pots on the stove, something had just been cooked.  Not food either.

 

Frank watched Helen and said nothing.  He hoped she would not recognize the pot and meth odors.

 

“You know, if you attacked me I couldn’t fight you off,” Helen said.  Frank recoiled and squinted.  Helen saw his expression.  “What?  Not your type?  Too experienced?”

 

“What?” Frank asked.  “Bitch, you’re trying to set me up.  What kind of bullshit game are you playing?  What?  You want to kill me in cold blood.  That’s your game.  Black man hater.  Is that your game?  You want to charge me with some BS?  No one wants to attack your old ass.  You’re older than my mom.”  She laughed and nodded.  “Let me see your card anyway.  How do I know you’re my new parole officer.  He’s never come to my house.  Let me see your card.  Or, I’m calling him.”

 

“Okay,” she said.  She pulled the Glock pistol from her pocket and pointed it at him.  He jumped back.  Hands up, blocking his face.  He turned to run.  “No.  Don’t you move.  Sit down.  Right there.”  She motioned to him with the gun to sit down on the messy sofa.

 

“Who the fuck are you?” he asked.  “You don’t know who you’re fucking with, bitch.  You think you’re all that.  You think you’re going to come up in here and do whatever the fuck you want?  You don’t know me.”  He went to stand up.

 

“Don’t you do it,” she said.  “I don’t want to kill you.  But I will.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re looking at this gun like I can take that gun from that old woman.  Maybe you could.  I doubt it.  But that’s up to you.  I’ll probably kill you when you make an attempt.  No one will prosecute me.  No one will know I was ever here.  You decide if it’s worth the try.”  Helen stiffened her arm with the gun pointed at his head.

 

Frank fought the urge to jump off the sofa to get to her.  But, the question of what if he did get to her before she pulled that trigger, made him want to try.  Then again, she seemed unafraid of being in the same room with him alone.  And, the way she held that gun said that she was no stranger to weapons.  Who was this crazy woman?

 

“I know your mind is going a thousand miles per hour,” she said.  “Should I jump at her?  Should I not?  Will she kill me?  How fast will she kill me?  It’s a lot to take in at the moment.  But, if you can calm yourself, you may enjoy what I have for you.  Because I am your new parole officer.  Darcy Hempton.  You can call me Darcy.”

 

“What do you want?” he asked.  “Parole officers don’t act like this.”

 

“You would know,” she said and smiled at him.  “I wouldn’t have pointed this gun at you.  But you’ve given me no choice.  You’re a felon.  I don’t trust you.  And we’re outside the office.  You can try to hurt me.”  She paused.  “I wouldn’t if I were you.”

 

He folded his arms.  An angry expression was on his face.  His body language yelled, Fuck You!

 

“Look,” Helen said.  “Here’s the deal.  You can think short term and eventually go back to prison.  Or, you can think long term and listen to me.  And, you’ll have the opportunity to earn six hundred dollars a month.”  He sat up straighter.  “It won’t be free.  But I think you’ll like the terms.”  She paused to let what she said sink in.  Frank was a lowlife, greedy bastard.

 

“I’m waiting,” Frank said.  He tried to sound casual.  Inside his heart was racing.  What he heard from her sounded like a chance to make quick easy money.

 

You are begging is what you are doing, Helen thought.  And it was what she expected.  Predictable.  Criminals are always predictable.  What is the next crime?  That is all they think of.  Well, here you go, she thought.

 

“Your first job is that every week you’re to take advantage of me in every way you can think of,” she said and gave him a devious half smile.  “You get what I’m saying?”  His mouth hung open.  “Can you read between the lines?  You can read?  Can’t you?”

 

He brow furrowed.  “Hell yeah I can read,” he said.  Angry at her assumption that he was stupid.  “Are you a crazy bitch?”

 

Her expression remained calm.  Not an eye or body movement changed.  She did not say anything.  Although she hated being called a bitch, she stayed calm.  In her youth, that word would have earned Frank a bullet in the head.

 

“Are you serious?” he asked.  She moved her head from side to side.  “Six hundred dollars?”  She raised her eyebrows.  “And you want me to fuck you every week with no strings attached.  And you’ll pay me six hundred dollars?  Every month?”

 

She turned the corners of her mouth down and nodded.

 

“What if you don’t like it?” he asked.  “Do I still get paid?”

 

“Of course not,” she said.  “You’re a product, an item.  I’m going to take you for a test drive.  Then we’ll see if you live up to my expectations.  I just believe you will.  Where’s your faith?  It sounds like you’re questioning your ability.”

 

“Mmmm,” he groaned and rubbed his chin.  She stared at him.  Her eyes bothered him.  It was as if there was nothing behind them.  Void of any real emotion.  She was just wrong, he thought.  That crooked little smile on her face seemed to taunt him.  Dare him to do what he did not want to.  Something was not right about her.  And her offer…her offer was one of those too good to be true.  That was on top of everything else he felt.  He did not find her sexy.  She was old.  Not his type.  There was nothing about her that suggested she was fun.  Just the opposite.  She could be a psycho.  She was probably nuts.

 

Frank wanted to tell her that and more.  But, he knew by her demeanor she was federal.  Not state.  And he did not want to screw around with a federal agent.  Getting involved with the federal government meant graduating to the big time.  And if he made her mad she would find a way to put him back in prison.  He would rather kill himself than go back to prison—especially Barnard Prison.  He had not fared well inside that place the last time.

 

Up until his third night in Barnard Prison, Frank considered himself a tough guy.  He had been locked up in Juvenile Detention Centers six times.  This was his third time in an adult jail or prison.  He had always managed to take care of himself.  He was not big compared to many of the inmates.  But acting crazy helped keep most inmates at bay.

 

But, on his third night inside Barnard Prison, three inmates showed him where his hierarchy would be among the prison’s population.  He never thought the lesson would end with him on his hands and knees.

 

He fought the three off for five minutes before they restrained him.  The next thirty minutes were the worst minutes of his life.  He quickly learned it was the start of his new hell.  Before the men left his cell they told him he was their property.  He would be where they told him to be and do what they told him to do.  They then told him to meet them in the laundry room the next night at eight.  He did not show up.

 

Two days later the same three inmates would punish him for disobeying.  The beating and sexual assault would be so severe that he would spend a week in the infirmary.  When he got out of the infirmary he did as the three inmates told him.  He was their property.  He never fought back.  He was even traded to others for cigarettes, food from the outside, or favors.  He swore once he got out of prison he was never going back in.

 

His prayers were answered three months later.  A visitor had come to the prison to see him.  His name was Detective James.  Out of the blue, he had come to interview Frank in prison.  He asked Frank if he would like to become an informant on gangs’ activities and drug distributions.

 

Without hesitation, Frank jumped at the chance.  Yes, it could get him killed.  But he did not care.  He was immediately placed in solitary confinement.  He would be there for two months.  Then he was paroled and placed on probation.  But, with all good things come the bad.

 

The first day out of prison he learned he was the property of Detective Barry James.  Now, this bitch with the gun pointed at his head held the key to his freedom.

 

Everyone wanted to use him, Frank thought.  Saying no would never be an option for him—especially for someone like this woman.   She would never take no for an answer.  Exerting her power was what she was all about.  He had seen bitches like her before.  They hated men.  All men.  They wanted to squash them under their heels.  Like the men of the world owed them.

 

Okay, he thought.  This woman had an agenda.  Whether it lasted a few weeks or months, he would never know.  But, whatever she was up to, he was sure she was not going to let him live to tell anyone.  That he was sure of.  So, if she thought she was going to play him, he was going to play her.

 

He would show her who would live the longest.

 

Whewww!  Helen even surprised me.  I hope you enjoyed your visit to “The Drop House.”  Don’t let Helen scare you off.  She’s a nice person.  She means well.

 

As for me, I’ll see you next Monday at the same place.  Thank you for visiting me again.  Have a great week.  Enjoy your 4th of July.

 

Stephen Wallace