April at the Antique Alley (13 page)


I parked the Taurus in Lola’s driveway. Before we got out Jill and I checked our armaments. I was still pretty cautious about giving Jill a gun because she had not yet taken a gun safety class, and she did not have a permit to carry, but she had helped me out on a couple of cases in the past and I did not want her walking into trouble without an equalizer.

Even though we had to go through crime scene tape we still checked every room of the house to make sure we were there alone before we started going through the boxes.


Just to do it in an organized fashion we first cleared some space on an opposite wall so we would have a place to stack the boxes when we went through them.

Going through the boxes was a long and laborious process. We sort of took turns with me opening a box and looking through it and telling Jill what all I had found, and as I did she would poke information into a spreadsheet on her lap top.

As I started each box I would give the box a number and I would write that number in big black ink on each side of the box so that in the future no matter how the box is stacked the number would always show on one surface.

After I opened five Jill and I switched places. We were at it probably five hours and had found very little. We had stacked forty-three of the forty-five boxes against the opposite wall after finding them just full of junk. The other two boxes were filled with papers that had been important at one time but were probably worthless now. We could have gone through the papers there but we knew it would take a while and since there were just the two boxes we loaded them into my Taurus and took them back to my house/office to go through them.


When we got to my house we had a choice to make. I mean I knew we were supposed to be at the restaurant at seven o’clock, but officially it was not a birthday party and I had heard nothing about any surprise. On the other hand, if Jill had made some sort of effort I did not want to spoil any planning she had done by making us late. So the choice when we got to my house was that we could either


work an hour or so on the contents of the two remaining boxes, or we could each take a shower and change clothes before heading out.

Therefore Jill and I each took one of my two bath rooms and we fought over the meager amount of hot water my old system provided.


The party actually was pretty cool. The restaurant is owned by Joe Stepho who is the father of my partner Jill, so Joe reserved us a nice large table in the back. Jill, of course, was there and joining her was her new play toy Donald Smith.

Also there when we arrived was my good friend Senior Detective Eric Samuels. I was happy to see also there were my very best friends AJ and Dutch, so I introduced them to all the others there. Juana de la Garza, who worked at the restaurant and had been a previous client of mine, came out of the kitchen long enough to wish me a Happy Birthday and give me a quick update on her husband and son.

AJ finagled the seat next to me and we were in a heated discussion about my new love interest and we were, you know, sort of whispering to each other so looking at each other a lot while we were talking and there I was telling AJ about how much Jana Little meant to me and how much I was falling for her and making a big old fool of myself doing it, and just as I was divulging all this hot dirt I noticed Jana standing right behind me leaning in so she could hear the conversation. Oh how embarrassing!

AJ slid over a chair which allowed Jana to sit between us but then I could not hear what AJ was whispering to Jana and even worse what Jana was whispering back. Fortunately the food arrived so we all had to sit up straight and hush up our private conversations.

The dinner was fabulous and there was so much of it. Somehow Joe Stepho had found out that I really liked Filet Mignon so there was about five-hundred dollars worth of beef on the table. We all chowed down and while we were eating conversation was a little weird. I mean Samuels and Jill and I could not talk about the cases we were working on because we not only had civilians at the table but technically we had two of the prime suspects there with us. AJ and Dutch couldn’t speak too much about our other friends because nobody else at the table knew them. Jill and I really couldn’t talk much about our new love interests simply because they were the suspects. To break the silence somebody, I think it was Jill, offered a toast in honor of my birthday. Fortunately the restaurant was crowded and noisy so the silence while we chewed didn’t become a problem.

Finally the main eating ended and we were all socially permitted to our hushed little side conversations again. I do not know how they pulled it off from such a diverse group but instead of each buying me a birthday gift they had pooled enough money to buy me a three day visit to a spa in Colorado for a make over


including air fare. Jill told me she was going to go with me and had her ticket already and then she offered information to the others at the table in case any of them wanted to go as well. At this point I was hoping Jana would want to consider it but we were too early in the relationship for an out of town trip, and I really did not know enough about her finances to expect her to afford it.

AJ of course had the advertising pamphlets to pass around so all the contributors could see what they had sprung for. The party ended with a rousing rendition of the birthday song and a large cake with way more than thirty-one candles.


Later, back at my house just four of us; myself, Jill, Jana, and Donald gathered on my back porch. Officially we were there to sip wine and gossip but we all knew we were on the back porch so we could get into the hot tub.

Jana was the first to get naked and get wet but she was followed closely by Jill. Together they started chanting “Birthday Suit, Birthday Suit” so I shed my pride and my clothing and joined them. That left only Donald, the only one of us with dangly parts which all three of us were quite curious about at the moment. I do not know if it is a guy thing or not but it took very little convincing to get him to join us.

We consumed a little wine, splashed around a little, and just sort of relaxed.

Later, up in my bed room I found myself alone with Jana not curious at all about what Donald and Jill might be doing. Jana had another present for me and she more or less directed me to open it. It was a beautiful box wrapped nicely in dark purple paper. Inside were things I would never show my mother; a leather dog collar, a bundle of rope, a lifelike plastic battery-filled tube shaped device that approximately matched in length and girth the dangly part Donald had earlier revealed, and a blindfold.

Jana leaned over and softly kissed me then she whispered in my ear “Happy Birthday love. I am going to give you a safe word. You can say anything that you want and no matter what you say I will continue but if you say the safe word I will stop immediately and release you. Do you understand?”

“Yes” I whispered.

“The safe word is ‘red’” she said softly, “repeat it once for me out loud so that I know you understand, and then we will begin.”

“Red” I whispered.

She reached into the bundle of new toys and picked up the blindfold which she slipped on me depriving me of sight. I then felt something being slipped around my neck and understood that I was wearing her dog collar.

“Lay on your back” Jana told me.


“O.K.” I said, but as I was turning to lay down she gently grabbed a handful of my hair stopping me.

“You are my bitch now Xara. When I command you say ‘Yes Mistress’ and then obey.”

“Yes Mistress” I whispered happy to be playing along.

“Do you remember what the safe word is?” she asked.

“Yes Mistress.”

“Do you wish to use it?”

“No Mistress.”

“Lay on your back slut” she commanded.

I whispered “Yes Mistress” playing along and already feeling a heat I would not soon forget.

Using the rope she tied my wrists to my headboard. I heard the battery jump to life in the new plastic device. You readers will have to use your imagination for the rest because it is a little too personal for me to write but I will tell you that I never used the safe word that evening.

All in all it was not a bad way to enter my thirties.




Saturday morning we were back in action. Donald and Jill were up and dressed when I got up. Thankfully they had made coffee. Jana joined us before I finished my first cup. Donald was ready to leave because Saturday is a very busy day for retail people and his father would need him at the store, so he said his good byes and hopped onto his Harley.

Jana said that she also had to head off to work soon but then asked what Jill and I were going to do today. We started talking about the mission that had started this whole mess, that being buying some new furniture for my house. I had pretty much abandoned the idea but Jill thought we should spend the day hunting for bargains.

I am not sure whether Jill or Jana first suggested it but all of a sudden we were talking about “Harry Hines Bazaar” which is a big flea market in Dallas. It is not as big as Trader’s Village which Jill and I had originally planned, but it was one Jana was more familiar with as she sometimes shopped there for things to sell in her shop. Harry Hines Bazaar was different from Traders Village. They both rented space to just about anyone who wished to sell things, but Traders Village was mostly out of doors where as the Bazaar was all inside one large building. This meant that the shop owners would not have to remove all of their inventory each night whereas that would be required at Traders Village. Leaving the inventory in a secured weather-proof area over night allowed the shop owner to keep a larger


inventory on hand, and the merchants are more likely to spend a bit of money on new merchandise to vend.

Of course the previous week when Jill and I were actually shopping we had rented a truck and we did not have one reserved for today. Jana told us that what she had done in the past was spend a day buying things and paying for them and then showing up the next day to pick them up. She would normally shop on Wednesdays and pick up her purchases on Thursdays, that way she could get everything done early in the day and open her own store just a little late on those days.

She suggested that Jill and I try the same thing. Go in one of our cars and just shop today, Saturday, and if we bought any big pieces arrange for a truck to pick them up on Sunday.

Jana scooted off to her store while Jill and I mounted Jill’s two year old VW

Bug. Expertly Jill piloted the Bug onto the highway 183 right in front of my house heading east. From there she quickly got into the left lane so we could get onto Northwest Highway. Just a few exits down was Harry Hines Blvd and just a block or two north was the Bazaar. The entire trip took only about ten minutes.

It was only about ten A.M. when we arrived, but the parking lot was already almost full. Jill found a spot that she could fit in and we locked up the Bug. Armed with our platinum cards we headed inside.

I had seen Harry Hines Bazaar from the outside many times but this was my first time inside. It was like a loud bustling carnival. The crowd of shoppers was a good mix of ages and ethnicities but virtually every vendor was Hispanic. All the music which was blaring was Hispanic. The food vendors sold burritos and tacos. I was happy I had Jill with me because she is fluent in Spanish whereas I might know half a dozen phrases that all have to do with finding the nearest cold beer or bathroom.

The Bazaar was one of those huge buildings that had a concrete floor and was subdivided into stalls using two by fours and chicken wire. I have not checked into the arrangements but it seemed you could rent just about any sized space you needed and they would quickly build it for you. At one time I am sure they had it laid out in a simple to follow geometric pattern but they had added and deleted and changed it so many times that it was now a maze.

Jill and I tried to find a way to visit each booth in a logical path but ended up getting lost several times and running into several dead ends that separated us from the store we were trying to get to by a single layer of chicken wire. There were many clothing vendors but no changing rooms so we had to buy things based on faith and estimate. Still, for two girls with credit cards, the prices were just too good to pass up and we ended up with a couple of bags of clothes. We never did


see any furniture we were interested in. What little furniture there was seemed to be new cheap stuff rather than older stuff built well enough to last until antiquity.

We had been in the Bazaar about two hours and had finally gotten through it.

Jill had to go potty but I was tired of the noise so rather than waiting for her I took her bags and her key ring and headed to the parking lot. As I approached her car I saw a young boy with a brick banging on one of Jill’s car windows. I shouted at him and ran towards the car.

It was a trap. There were five of them. Each male, Hispanic, and small. Each wearing leather and mustachioed. Tattoos covering arms and necks. Each also swinging a chain with some sort of weight at the end.

The beat down lasted only about a minute. I survived it by covering my face with one of the shopping bags and falling to the ground in the fetal position. They swung the chains all over for just a few seconds and then it stopped for a few seconds when one of them bent down and shouted at me “You are sticking your nose where it don’t belong bitch!” Then the beating started again.

The stings from the chains hurt a lot but not as much as the kicks from their boots. I struggled to keep consciousness but lost the struggle.


I woke up surrounded by paramedics calling my name. Apparently a parking lot security guard had blown a whistle just about the time Jill had spotted the melee and when the whistle had blown the men had scattered. The security guard was correct in protecting me rather than chasing the perpetrators.

After the paramedics woke me up they hustled me into an ambulance. They had to stop the bleeding in several places and I soon found myself topless and bleeding in front of a growing crowd. Before I let them close the ambulance door though I got Jill’s attention. I asked her the condition of her car and apparently they had broken two windows but she could drive it. Additionally I had not been robbed because they found her keys and our packages.

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