The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. What I thought was a simple retrieval job turned into something else entirely. On my way home with the goods—a graffitied pink flamingo—my car was tee-boned. Two gruff men
The name’s Angola LaGrange, private investigator. What I thought was a simple retrieval job turned into something else entirely. On my way home with the goods—a graffitied pink flamingo—my car was tee-boned. Two gruff men held me captive in an old service station until I managed to escape. I ran to the local law, Sheriff Nelson, only to learn he’s in cahoots with my kidnappers. Now I’m back where I started, in handcuffs, and about to be tortured by their boss—who, it turns out, was after me all along.
Read the full details Here and the unfolding case below.
“I’m here for you, Miss LaGrange.” The well-dressed man flashed me a very white smile.
“I think you’ve got me confused with someone else. I’m Angie Brown. Ask your pal the sheriff, he’ll tell you.”
“It’s too late for that game, LaGrange. I don’t like coming to these pitiful backwaters, and I don’t intend to spend any more time here than I have to.” he turned back to his case of torture tools.
“Now, where should we begin?”
“How about you tell me how you tracked me down to this dump? There weren’t many who knew I was coming here, and this seems like an out-of-the-way place for someone like you to have men waiting for me.”
He laughed. “There’s that trademark spunk. I suppose you’ve been entertaining enough to warrant a short story. Your client, Mister Dremly, is an old business associate of my employers.”
Employer, so this guy’s hired help too.
“When he started feeling nostalgic in his old age, we…encouraged him to seek you out.”
I nodded. “The Dremly’s were from this miserable, little mudhole.”
“Hey!” Nelson returned with a small cooking-torch.
I ignored him. “You knew I’d have to come here eventually, then it was just a matter of hiring a few goons and waiting for me to show up.”
“Bravo.” The well-dressed man took the torch and lit it. “Nelson, go outside and make sure we aren’t disturbed.”
“Whatever you say.” The sheriff paused long enough to drag Trouble’s corpse away from the doorway before heading out.
My torturer held the tip of a long, thin needle into the flame.
I didn’t want to think about where that was going. “You know torture is a terrible way to get information, right?”
“Perhaps, perhaps not.” He shrugged. “But either way, they didn’t hire me to gather information.”
“Then why?” I shifted my hands behind my back to get as much leverage on my left thumb as I could.
He smiled. “Isn’t obvious? To make you suffer.”
This is going to hurt.
The end of the needle glowed.
I tensed as the window to act grew smaller.
A soft buzzing all but echoed in the silent space.
The well-dressed man set the torch down and reached into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a clunky satellite-phone and answered it. “Yes?”
I took advantage of the distraction to break the bone at the base of my thumb. I had to bite my tongue to keep from screaming. I always forgot just how bad it hurt.
The handcuffs were tight. Even with my thumb able to move out of the way, the metal scraped and stuck on my hand.
I should have started sooner.
The well-dressed man stepped in my direction. I froze.
“It seems my employer would like a word with you, Miss LaGrange.” He tucked the sat-phone between my ear and shoulder.
“Hello?” I grimaced as I slid the handcuff another few millimeters.
“I told you retribution was coming, Miss LaGrange.” It was an older man’s voice, with a distinctly Eastern-European accent.
“Tevas.” I’d never personally met the crime-lord, but I’d tangled with his operations before. And he’d sworn vengeance.
“I wanted you to know that despite certain…setbacks, my reach into your country is undiminished. And without your continued interference, will continue to grow.”
“If that’s what you wanted, you should have hired more goons.” With one last scrape, I freed my left hand from the handcuffs.
“Bold words, from a woman tied to a chair.”
Shows what you know.
“I’m a little disappointed you didn’t come to see me off in person, Tevas. I thought what we had was more special than a phone call.”
He chuckled. “While I won’t say this is strictly business, I’m afraid you are hardly the biggest thorn in my side. Mister Jacobs is more than capable of dealing with the likes of you.”
“And when you’re wrong, who will you send next? And can I get a rough timetable? I’d love to put it on my calendar.”
“Always making jokes. I’ll miss that about you.” He laughed. “Goodbye, Miss LaGrange, we won’t speak again.” The line went dead.
“Don’t bet on it.” I grabbed the free ring of the handcuffs with my good hand.
I waited a beat, as though Tevas was still speaking.
“Uh-huh. Fine, yeah, whatever.” I looked up at the well-dressed man, who I assumed was Mister Jacobs. “He wants to talk to you again.”
He reached down to take the phone from the crook of my shoulder.
I sucker-punched him. The metal handcuffs bit into my fingers as I made contact with his side.
He blocked my second strike. But it forced him into an awkward position and exposed his holstered pistol.
I swung again with my right to keep him off balance and lunged with my left. I took his fist the side of the head for my trouble—which filled my vision with little white specks—but I came away with the gun. I kicked him away.
Okay, I kicked and fell away from him, but the result was the same—more distance between us.
He shouted for Nelson as he reached for his pistol.
I switched it to my good hand and fired a quick round in his general direction as I made for cover.
A guy like this could easily have another piece tucked away somewhere. Not to mention Nelson.
The shot missed Jacobs, but it did force him to dive behind one of the big shelves.
Nelson came through the door firing. His shots were all over the place, like he’d never been in a shootout before.
I ducked out from behind the heavy metal shelf and fired. I put two rounds into the door-frame by Nelson and another into the shelf where I’d last seen Jacobs.
The sheriff shrieked and jumped back.
While he fired a few blind shots, I checked my ammo. One in the chamber, four in the magazine.
There was a soft shuffling sound between the retorts.
I leaned out and fired at it.
Jacobs ducked back into cover as my bullets whizzed passed him.
One in the chamber, two in the magazine.
Another barrage from Nelson. One shot ripped through a nearby plastic jug.
He’s getting closer.
I ducked out and fired two shots at him as I moved to new cover.
One in the chamber.
The bay door wasn’t far.
If I can get out, maybe take a car—
One of Nelson’s shots knocked over a can on the shelf above me. Rusty screws rained down around me.
Nothing had enough force to pierce skin, but I was suddenly surrounded by a little minefield of rusty metal.
So much for being mobile.
Trouble’s corpse lay nearby. I shifted over and patted it down.
I’d taken a gun from him already, but he must have had extra ammunition or something useful.
I hit the jackpot by his right boot. A small revolver tucked into an ankle holster. I pulled it out and checked.
I leaned out and fired one at the Sheriff.
He ducked back behind the doorway with a squeal.
Plus one in Jacobs’s gun.
“She’s out, Nelson. Go get her.” Jacobs called from the other side of the room.
I fired one in his direction.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, Nelson.” I called out to him.
“I’m not going to prison.” He fired a few more shots.
“Who said anything about prison?” I returned fire.
“I see the headline as ‘local sheriff rescues woman from international crime syndicate.’” I brushed some of the screws away so I could shift closer to the bay door.
“Don’t listen to her.”
“You could be a hero, Nelson.”
“Hero, I like the sound of that.”
“Heroes don’t get paid.” Jacobs yelled.
“What good’s money if you’re dead?” I put another round into the doorway.
“As far as I can tell, only you and I are armed, Nelson. If you switch sides, this wraps up pretty quick.”
“Let me think about it.”
“Don’t think too long.” I sent another round toward Jacobs.
Come on, Nelson. I know your selfish enough. Take the deal.
“All right, I’m in. Jacobs, come out with your hands up.”
“Nelson, you traitorous pig, I swear I’ll hunt down everyone you’ve ever met and make them suffer for this.”
I leaned out from cover.
Nelson had stepped out from the doorway with his gun raised toward Jacobs’s position. “You know, you have a point.” He rushed the shelf. As soon as he cleared it he opened fire.
I rose and circled to the doorway. I kept the gun at the ready, in case Nelson changed his mind.
After a few more shots, Nelson came back around the corner. Blood splattered across his clothes. “There, that takes care of that.”
“Great. Oh, but there is one more thing.”
I clocked him with the butt of the gun.
He crumpled to the floor.
“You’re absolutely going to prison.”
My first call was to the FBI. I didn’t trust the locals to handle one of their own. Jurisdiction was…fuzzy—at best—but I still had some friends there.
Not many, but some.
My second call was to Lucky. I wanted a new, more thorough, background check on Mister Dremly. For the money he was offering, I was willing to overlook a few old connections, but I didn’t fancy walking into another trap.
Also, I didn’t know exactly where my car ended up—let alone what shape it was in. I wanted to be sure I could catch a ride out of that hellhole as soon as the FBI was done with me.
Lucky was a lot happier with the first request than the second.
It took a few hours for the feds to show up. By then Nelson was awake again, but I’d taken the precaution of tying him up. I specifically avoided the pitfalls that had led to both of my escapes, though no system is infallible.
Fortunately, he wasn’t as clever, or as desperate, as I’d been.
When the first FBI agents came through the door he started yelling. “In here! You’ve got to help me, she’s crazy.”
“Well, you’re not wrong there. Unfortunately, somehow that doesn’t stop her from being right.” The odious pain in the neck—one agent Clay Jackson—grinned at me like he’d delivered some wonderful compliment. “Angola, been a while.”
“Not long enough, Clay.” I handed over the gun. He was not one I counted among my few friends at the bureau.
He led me out to the parking lot while another agent got started untying Nelson.
He’ll be at that a while.
In addition to two black SUVs and a sedan, an ambulance had joined the collection of cars. Clay passed me off to the paramedics, then called over a junior agent to watch me.
“Make sure she doesn’t go anywhere.”
“Is that really necessary?” I winced as the paramedics began probing my injuries.
He smirked. “Right now it’s your word against Sheriff Nelson’s as to what happened. And you were the one with the gun.”
“Come on, Clay, you know me better than that.”
He shrugged. “You can’t let these cases get personal, Angola. That was always your problem.”
“Agent Jackson! We’ve got something.” Another agent called from the service station.
“Duty calls.” He flashed me another smirk before leaving.
I tried to ignore the hovering agent as the paramedics peppered me with questions I didn’t know the answers to.
Eventually, Clay came back out with Nelson clapped in handcuffs.
After stuffing his prisoner into the back of one of the SUVs, he came over and waved off the junior agent. “You’re in luck, Angola. The idiots never got around to scrubbing the surveillance cameras.
We’ve got the whole incident on film.”
“So, I’m good to go?”
“We’ll need your statement, for the records, but otherwise yes.”
I kept it short. The pain in my side was getting worse as the adrenaline faded, and talking with Clay wasn’t making it any better.
Once he was satisfied, he turned me fully over to the paramedics, who insisted on taking me to the hospital. I agreed on the condition that I could bring the flamingo with me.
As much trouble as I’d gone through for the stupid thing, I wasn’t about to give it up.
They were perplexed, but accepted my terms.
I ended up spending a week in the hospital. When I was finally discharged, practically my whole left side was in some kind of cast. My arm was in a sling, my hand heavily splinted, and my leg bore an over-sized compression boot.
By then Lucky had finished his investigation and had good news and bad news. The good was that our client still checked out. Despite my captors’ claims, he didn’t appear to have anything to do with the attack.
The bad news was my car was totaled.
I wasn’t too surprised, it barely ran before the wreck. Still, I’d kept it because I couldn’t afford anything better. With the hospital bills, that was truer than ever.
I took a cab straight from the hospital to Dremly’s office. His secretary seemed concerned to see a walking mummy with a graffitied, old, pink flamingo enter the building, but when I explained my business she passed the message along.
A few minutes later I was ushered into the lavish office.
Dremly rose as I entered. “Miss LaGrange, do you have it?”
I set the flamingo on his desk. “See for yourself.”
The old man snatched it up and examined it carefully. As he traced the faded lines with his fingers tears welled up in eyes.
“Everything all right?”
A smile spread across his face. “Yes, sorry. When you reach my age, you’ll realize it was always the little things that mattered most. And you’ll do whatever you can to get them back.”
I waited silently while he had his moment with the old lawn flamingo.
Eventually, he turned his attention back to me. “I can’t thank you enough. Marge will see that your payment goes through.”
“There is one other thing.”
“I need to hear everything you know about the man called ‘Tevas.’”
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