Twenty-Two

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Lester awoke in the warehouse still bound to the chair. His face ached and he couldn't quite open his left eye all the way. There were shafts of light streaming in through dirty windows illuminating the rest of his surroundings so he could get his first look at the room around him.At the other end of the expansive building stood a few tables and a half dozen men, among them The Count who played with his revolver every minute or so like a nervous tick. Lester watched them quietly,not eager to draw any attention to himself. A large side door retracted into the ceiling and a forklift began bringing in pallets stacked with large tan cases and putting them in the center of the room eventually blocking his line of sight. Not long after the door closed and the forklifts operator left the machine by the door. He heard the sound of a door opening behind him followed by echoing footsteps. He turned as far as he could to see and he couldn't believe what he saw.

Miranda walked passed him then stopped suddenly and turned around. "What the hell are you doing here?" She asked.

Lester simply shrugged.

She stepped closer to him, looked over her shoulder, then whispered, "I told you not to talk about our little rendezvous."

"I'm not here because of that."

"What did you do?"

"I got a guy The Count was extorting money from tossed in jail. Now he wants me to pay."

"Shit." She cursed quietly. "Stay put. I"ll see if I can get you cut loose."

"I'm not going anywhere."

She walked away and disappeared behind the palettes loaded with cases. He heard the sounds of The Count's revolver followed by some loud talking, an argument maybe, and then nothing but muffled speech.Miranda never returned until hours later she walked out on The Count's arm. Lester avoided eye contact as they passed by. Miranda didn't even so much as look at him. Eventually the light faded leaving him in near complete darkness once more.

Sometime later Lester heard the door again. Someone grabbed the cuffs between his wrists. A second later his hands were free. Miranda surprised him when she walked around in front of him. Lester stood up and stretched his pained arms.

"Sorry,I couldn't get you out of here sooner. I had to work all night at the bar."

He felt a little weak and wobbly. "At least you came back."

"I couldn't just leave you like that. I couldn't get The Count to release you earlier. He said he wasn't done with you." She tossed the cuffs onto the floor behind the chair. "I gotta go. If I'm not home soon he'll get suspicious."

"Can you at least get me to a bus stop or something on the way?"

"Sure let's get moving."

Together they exited the warehouse and got into her car. She fired it up and headed back toward the heart of the city. They didn't speak until Lester gave her some directions. She stopped in front of a glass bus stop shelter, but before he got out he turned to her and said, "Idon't want to pry or anything, but you might want to reconsider your relationship decisions."

She had no response and as soon as he exited she drove off into the early morning.

Lester entered his apartment and found his suitcase. He knew he couldn't stay here any longer. Not with The Count and his corrupt cops searching for him. He packed up his clothes and a few other essentials then left expecting to never come back. Not any time soon anyway.

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Spending the day working up the nerve Jackie snuck herself into the hospital during the late afternoon. The news had done her the favor of identifying the man who intervened in her attempt on Spoony. Better yet they disclosed his location as well. She knew just who to ask for when she reached the nurses desk. She didn't have a plan beyond that but she needed to act quickly.

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