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Authors: Keisha Orphey

The Guardian (22 page)

BOOK: The Guardian
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Sylvia mumbled, “Well, look who decided to call.”  Realizing her words came out coldly, she sighed and added, “No matter what happened between you and Philip, you know you can always come home. When do you plan on leaving?”  And before Dawn could answer, she asked: “How on earth are you going to pay for the flight home? The tickets will cost at least fifteen-hundred dollars.”
       “I need to get away from here— “
       “Is everything okay, dear?”
       Edward picked up on another line and interjected, “Dawn, pack your things. Your mother and I will make the necessary arrangements from this end.”
       Dawn started to cry.
       I’m never coming back home and I’ll never see you again, she thought. 
       “What’s going on, Dawn?  She’d in trouble again, Ed.”
       “There’s so many things, Momma.  I should’ve never married, Philip.“
       “He told us about the separation.  Are you sure that’s what you want?  It won’t be easy raising three kids alone.”
       “I’ll be fine, Momma.”
       “Before I forget. A really nice man helped me put the groceries in the car at the supermarket last week. I tried to tip him, but he told me that he was a good friend of Nicky’s. Who’s Nicky? Is she someone you went to school with?”
       Tears streamed from her eyes, but she stifled her cry, placing a palm over her mouth. And as if she could see Dawn struggling to answer, Sylvia said: “Get some rest dear.  We’ll see you soon.  Kiss the kids for me.  I love you.”  Sylvia hung up, but Edward remained on the line anxious to talk to his daughter.
       He could hear the anxiety in her voice.
       “Dawn? Are you still there?” Edward asked, but Dawn didn’t respond. 
       She hadn’t noticed the brown envelope on the dresser until now.  Her name was scribbled on the front and as if she knew what it contained, she couldn’t utter another word to her father calling her on the other end of the receiver.  She felt as if her voice had been stripped away.
       With newfound strength, she said: ““Daddy … I’m gonna have to call you back.”
       She hung up.  She couldn’t tell him what she’d found nor could she tell him that she planned to flee the country and that if she didn’t, she was headed back to jail.
       To prison.  For murder.
       Dawn grasped the envelope with both hands, squeezed the clasp and emptied its contents onto the bed.  Eight by ten black and white photographs of her and Nicoli smiling over dinner cascaded out like a silvery waterfall.  She wasn't sure if the tears streaming down her cheeks were for Nicoli or the fact that Philip had concrete evidence of her infidelity.

       Whatever the case, she was happy to see him.  The pictures were still lying on the bed as she stared at his smile and ran a finger across his cheek.  Slowly, she flipped to the next photograph and a smile spread her lips.  Nicoli was on his knees in front of her, seductively yanking at her panties, begging to please her in the restaurant.  That man didn’t take no for an answer. 
       Moving to the next black and white, she caught a glimpse of a man in the background that resembled one of the thugs who’d been with William when he coerced her into going upstairs to Nicoli’s suite.  She would never forget that face and he was staring at her in the photo just as oddly as he’d glared at her then.
       That man was still alive and she was sure he was one of the men who’d chased her into the parking garage, but she lived miles away from The Ritz and the taxi had barreled down interstate fifteen like a bat out of hell.  There was no way he knew where to find her.
       Philip promised to have the kids home by seven-thirty A.M.  He had moved in with Larry temporarily, or at least until he and Dawn could figure things out, and rented one of the spare bedrooms for a measly fifty bucks; his friend didn’t want a dime, but Philip was determined to pay what he could since he was no longer employed with the accounting firm.  The kids had plenty of room to move around in the five bedroom, two-story bachelor pad. 
Larry welcomed them with open arms and promised not to smoke in the house or around the kids.  As much as he hated to admit it, he enjoyed having Philip and the kids in the house.
       Standing in the shower, Dawn turned the knob to hot, closed her eyes and allowed the jetted spray shoot water atop her head and down her neck, back and shoulders.
Inextricably mixed with her tears, William’s blood circled the drain at her feet and her vaginal scarring burned like fire.  She could still feel the pains of his thrusting hips between her legs, his coarse hair abrasively grazing her inner thighs, and the putrid stench of his tobacco breath.  His mouth stunk like burning trash and rotten meat.
       She wondered about the large syringe she’d stabbed him with.   It was filled with a filmy yellow fluid and reeked of gasoline.  Had he planned to inject her with the mysterious substance? 
The vile contained a lethal dose of Krokodil
.  If the serrated bottle across his neck didn’t kill him, she was sure the substance in the vile had.
       Exhausted, Dawn crawled in bed for a thirty-minute power nap after gathering up the photographs and returning them to the envelope.  But before she knew it, the clock read eight A.M. and Christopher was shaking her awake.
       She woke from a nightmare, alarming images of her attacker pinning her to the blood stained marble to an unrelenting jerking of her shoulder.
       “Momma, why does Daddy have to stay at Uncle Larry’s house?” he asked innocently.  “Why are you packing?  Are you leaving, too?”
       Her eyes remained closed as she rubbed his arm and pulled him close for a hug. 
       “I don’t wanna be adopted.” He cried in her embrace.
       Dawn opened her eyes and held him out at arm’s length.  “Adopted?  Why would you have to be adopted?”
       “One of my friends at school got adopted.  His parents couldn’t take care of him anymore.  Now he’s adopted.”
       She sat up in bed and pulled him close.  “You’ll never have to worry about being adopted, Christopher.  We’re just moving away from Las Vegas.  That’s all –”
       “But we just moved here.  What about Daddy?  Is he coming?”
       She sighed, climbed out of bed and knelt on the floor in front of him, turning her face so that he couldn’t see her swollen cheek.  “Christopher, sometimes Mommas and Daddies disagree.   Life is not always fair. It doesn’t mean that we don’t love you,” she forced a smile and said, “Wouldn’t you like to travel?  You’ve always said you wanted to see Niagara Falls.  We can even go to Japan.  How about a Chicago White Sox game?  Or fifty-yard line seats at a Saints football game?”  she recognized that his discontentment quickly turned to a chuckle and kissed his forehead before climbing to her feet and leading him out of the room to check on Sierra and Mason who’d quickly fallen asleep in Sierra’s bed.  She kissed Sierra on the head and tucked the covers around her baby girl’s body and did the same to Mason.
       She left the bedroom door ajar and walked across the loft to her own bedroom.  She despised the rented house.  Hated the stucco walls, the cheap thin carpet throughout the upstairs and downstairs, the cracking linoleum in the bathrooms.  And she despised it even more now that she had enough money to buy a comfortable custom home anywhere she fancied.
       Dawn gagged brushing her teeth and thought she better see a gynecologist as soon as possible.  She needed to make sure her attacker hadn’t given her any sexually transmitted diseases.  Forget about what’s happened, she thought to herself.  He’s dead and can never harm you again.  Just think about your children and your unborn baby.  As long as they are healthy, nothing else matters.
       But you must leave Las Vegas as soon as possible.  She didn’t dare even think of going to the police.
       These kind of people own the cops.
       Dawn could hear Christopher moving around in his bedroom as she turned on the faucet and splashed her face with water, then the door opened and slammed shut downstairs.  She quickly blotted her face dry and hurried across the loft, careful not to make a sound.  Christopher was looking at her like a deer in headlights when she entered Sierra’s bedroom where she and Mason were still sound asleep.  She motioned him to hide and he did as she closed the door to Sierra’s room.
       Unfamiliar footsteps lumbered up the stairs with heavy steel toed boots and the person striding whistled an eerie tune.  Up on the loft now, he glanced at the suitcases in the empty master suite and scanned the location of the kids’ bedrooms.  No one was home.  He trotted down the stairs and out the front door.  
       Dawn emerged from Sierra’s room and peered over the banister when she heard a car drive away peeling rubber.
In terror, she backed into the room and as she pivoted to grab Mason and Sierra did she realize that William was standing behind her.  She could smell his putrid odor emanating like a trash dump.
       “Where are we going, sweetheart?” William’s voice frightened her so much she felt as if every muscle in her body froze stiff.  Her blood boiled hot and seemed to defrost her.
       Dawn turned around to find him standing there with a blood-stained bandage taped around his neck.
       “Taking a trip and you weren’t going to invite me?”
his voice hoarse and pain stricken.  He limped toward her like a dead man.  She thought how much he did look like a corpse with dark circles around his eyes and discolored skin.
       She prayed silently that Sierra and Mason wouldn’t wake up at the sound of his voice.  “Please don’t hurt my kids – “
       “Why would I do that?  I love kids.  Besides, they’re not the ones who caused me to lose millions of dollars.   I had to move my entire drug operation out of Houston because of you and that…that mouth!   Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to fuck with a man’s money?” He punched the wall beside her head, drilling a hole with his fist.
       Sierra woke up and started to cry. 
       “Let her wait!”
He shoved Dawn to the floor and placed the back of a chair beneath the doorknob, locking Mason and Sierra inside.
       Mason had awakened and was screaming now, “Momma!”
He choked through tears.
       William towered over her and growled, “You owe me the blood flowing through your veins. I’ve kept my eyes and ears on you for the past ten years.  It was just a matter of time until you played your way into my hands— “
       “I had no choice but to testify. I was facing life in prison.”
       “And Amos? He was the bread and butter of our operation.  Your testimony put him away for sixty years!  You put my money in the hands of those goddamn pigs! All you had to do was keep your fucking mouth shut. You sat your ass on that witness stand, not knowing a goddamn thing! And you still got off!  You must have an angel looking over you, girl—“his voice was thick with phlegm. He spat on the carpet.
       “I had nothing to do with what happened in Houston— “
       His voice exploded with anger like a roaring tiger, saliva foamed at the corners of his mouth: “Why were you even there? You were not part of the plan! That was a twenty-million-dollar deal!”
       “The DEA was all over that! They’d been watching Amos for two years!”

       William fumed with rage, yet listened intently, then asked,

How the fuck do you know?”
Dawn shook and stuttered as she answered, “When I returned home, I found a tape.  It was a recording of someone talking to the informant that set Amos up.   One of your men on the inside set Amos up. Not me. Please, you have to believe me --”
“You were still there!” He shot a finger like it was spit-shined 357.  “You cut a deal with that bitch!  I couldn’t strangle her neck hard enough –  “ he swung his mighty fist and knocked her to the floor.  “It’s the end of the road for you --”
       William drew a quick and painful last breath and his face grew steely grey with death as life drained from him. 
       Dawn rolled away just in the nick of time. 
       William fell face-down with his eyes still open.  The sudden collapse of his weight could’ve easily broken her ribs and drove the wind from her lungs, suffocating her. 
       His arms still outstretched, Christopher held on tightly to the bow as if in shock he’d killed a man.  The arrow’d pierced straight through the back of William’s neck and throat.  
       And when he finally dropped the bow to the floor, Dawn sprinted toward him, hugging him tight.  “You saved my life, Chris!”
       Together, they removed the chair from the door to Sierra’s room and found her and Mason sitting on the bed, blood-red with anger, screaming and crying at the top of their lungs.  She took all three kids in her arms and kissed them one-by-one and said, “Mommy loves you so much.”
                                                                        ¤     ¤     ¤
       When investigators took her statement and congratulated Christopher for saving his mother's life and after the coroner wheeled William Bachmaier's body out her home in a body bag, Dawn called her landlord in Florida, alerting her of the incident and of her decision to leave Las Vegas.  She advised her that she'd make arrangements to leave the Chevrolet Tahoe in the garage as fulfillment of the two-year rental agreement -- completing the act of donation and notarizing the title would be handled later.  The lady gladly agreed and expressed her deepest sympathy for the tragic event.  Although unfortunate and a matter she'd wished her young son hadn't been a victim of, Dawn thanked God for granting her child the gift of courage in his father’s absence. She hadn't noticed until then the tenacity the young boy possessed.
       Nor had Amos Jones recognized her in the photograph on the end table.   She looked motherly and happy surrounded by her kids and in the protection of Philip’s arms.  He hadn't seen Dawn in nine years -- ever since he'd been sentenced to the Texas State Penitentiary for sixty years by Judge Theodore Pope.   And for the ten years he
serve, he couldn’t wait to get even.  Bittersweet revenge enticed him.  Good behavior and his collaboration with the FBI in their search for Emilio worked in his best interest, shaving decades off his sentence.
       He opened the refrigerator and helped himself to a beer and climbed the stairway onto the loft -- blood stained the carpet despite someone’s effort to clean it.   The house was every inch a family home, from the three kids’ bedrooms, to the master suite on the farthest end.  It only took one look in each bedroom to tell him the family had packed what they could and left.
       But where were they headed? There was still plenty of personal belongings in the home.  She couldn’t be going far.  Or so, he thought.
       Amos finished his view of the upstairs and sauntered back down to the living room.  That’s when the answering machine clicked on and Edward Miles’ voice started to play.
       “Dawn, I’ve reserved five one-way tickets at the airport.  See you soon.”
       The machine beeped and turned off automatically.
       His back straightened.  One-way?  She was returning to Louisiana?  Damn.  What a wasted trip.  Then again, Las Vegas could never be considered wasted time.  Then, in mid-thought, he froze.
       Someone else was calling and their voice was playing on the answering machine.
       “Dawn?  Hello?  If you can hear me, please pick up.”  Lydia said.  “I just received word from an informant that Amos Jones is out of prison.  He’s looking for you.  Dawn?  Can you hear me?  I’m contacting your parents as soon as I hang up and then I’m calling the authorities in your area.  Call me back when you get this message.”
       Lydia’s voice was filled with urgency.
       And she should be worried.
       Amos Jones didn’t care about going back to prison.
       He wanted Dawn Miles to die.
                                                                        ¤     ¤     ¤
       “I have tickets at will call.”
       Dawn reached around in the handbag to retrieve her wallet and ID for the ticket agent and a harried glance at the man standing behind her was all it took to know who he was.  She recoiled, shocked, and took a quick intake of breath, almost choking.  Although she hadn’t seen him in almost a decade, she’d remember those black beady eyes anywhere. 
       Amos Jones stared back at her, an evil grimace on his face.   He hadn’t changed one bit.  He was still short and stocky as she remembered and his glare was piercing and obtrusive.
       What was he doing there?  In
airport of all places?  She found it quite ironic that he was standing just feet away from where she stood in line at the airline ticket counter.

BOOK: The Guardian
8.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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