Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hump Day - Ch. 12

Sebastian and Tabitha immediately sprung into action. He rolled to the side of her and slid along the floor towards the tote bag where his gun was located. She slid along the floor as well towards the crate where her own weapon was. The whole time Tabitha silently prayed the 91st Psalm. She always prayed that psalm whenever danger was near.

Snatching her holster down without even lifting her head, Tabitha handled her revolver at the same time that Sebastian had his. It was as if they were partners again.

“Call for help while I check to see if our welcoming committee is really gone,” Sebastian said as he advanced to the back door on all fours, careful to stay under the window’s height. There was no need to tell Tabitha to watch the front door since she would automatically do that anyway.

Doing as he instructed and instinctively watching the front area, Tabitha briefly glanced sideways to the place where they’d been on the floor kissing. As she whispered into her cell phone, her eyes scanned the proximity of the window to the kissing area. That’s when she realized that whoever shot at them hadn’t been trying to kill them. If they had, they could have easily done that while she and Sebastian were standing up kissing in clear view of the window.

No, whoever the shooter/shooters were had been trying to scare them off, particularly Sebastian since his car was the main target of interest outside.

Within minutes, help was dispatched to the Armstrong property under a Code 8. Code 8 meant that an officer was calling for assistance. Therefore every other working officer, who didn’t have an arrestee, was expected to drop what he/she was doing in order to aid their endangered colleague.

Upon hearing that Tabitha was in trouble again, the female dispatcher deemed this incident of the greatest important. Be they white or black, the girls connected with the police department stuck together. They had to since they were outnumbered and often outranked. Fortunately, Tabitha Montebello was trying to change all that.

Unfortunately, since the property was closer to the outskirts of town, it could take up to twenty minutes to get there. Tabitha decided to spend that time in a state of watchfulness and prayerfulness.

For He shall give His angels charge over me, to keep me in all my ways, she prayed while the adrenaline continued to rush through her body in waves.

* * *

In the meantime, Sebastian continued checking the immediate perimeter outside. Like any smart cop, he avoided blindly turning any corner. In fact, Sebastian came just short of every corner, peeked around quickly, and proceeded only when it was clear. If had been dark, he would have used his flashlight in quick spurts so as to keep his position hidden.

Finding nothing but a white note taped to Tabitha’s car, he made his way back inside and locked the door behind him. “All clear, Tab,” Sebastian said, standing to his full height of 6’1 now. His anger was apparent by his flaring nostrils.

How could a very dangerous someone have gotten this close to them without their knowledge? Certainly close enough to have attached a note to Tabitha’s car? And why didn’t this person shoot to kill when they had the chance to?

“Somebody doesn’t want you back in town,” Tabitha replied, now standing to her feet, as well.

“I know. Whoever it was has a V-8 engine with a bad muffler,” Sebastian noted, deliberately channeling his anger into a more positive direction. First chance he got he would gather all the information he could on cars with V-8 engines.

“Whoever it was also doesn’t realize that they’ve just given me another reason to stick around for a while,” Sebastian continued. “Looks like you just got yourself a housemate, baby,” he added, looking at Tabitha.

Dumbfounded, Tabitha adamantly shook her head. “Seb, you can not move in here with me. Regardless of what almost happened tonight, I can not shack up with you. That would be like piling sin on top of sin.”

“Not if you’re my wife,” Sebastian proposed resolutely as things suddenly got very personal again. “No one is going to hurt the woman I love. I’m going to stay here and make sure of that.” His hand crumpled the paper tighter as he momentarily forgot that it was evidence. But then again, Sebastian had never experienced murderous rage before either.

Tabitha’s temper flared hotter than his, yet for different reasons. “I don’t need you protecting me! And I definitely don’t need a man who’s only marrying me to be my bodyguard.” Suddenly she paused. “Wait a minute…why would I need a bodyguard? Wasn’t it your vehicle and your parents’ home that was shot at?” She put her hands on her hips. “What aren’t you telling me, Seb?”

Sebastian reluctantly produced the note. “It looks like they want you to leave town with me this time,” he said as she read the white slip of paper for herself.

“No one is going to run me out of town,” Tabitha sprouted angrily. She held the note by the edge so that her fingerprints wouldn’t smear any others that were on there.

“You got that right.” Suddenly hearing sirens coming from the west, Sebastian relaxed somewhat now that help was near. “Together we’re going to find out who’s behind this and why. And we’re going to do it as man and wife, too. Not only because I love you, but also because if we don’t get married soon we are going to fornicate,” he continued, giving Tabitha an intense stare. As proof, Sebastian pointed to the disheveled condition of their clothes which had not been caused by them responding to gunfire in the vicinity.

Although that was not necessarily the proposal Tabitha had wanted or had dreamed about since she was a little girl, she accepted it anyway. Why wouldn’t she accept it? She still loved Sebastian, she still needed his help - now more than ever before, and she also knew that he spoke truth about the likelihood of them fornicating soon.

Two times they’d been alone in a private setting and had almost consummated their love. Tabitha had dated numerous men over the years and hadn’t gone beyond a goodnight kiss with any of them. Yet with Sebastian, she seemed ready to fly out of her clothes at the drop of a hat.

“I’ll marry you,” Tabitha finally replied. “Tonight,” she added, setting the timeframe.

To that Sebastian smiled wide. He would have sealed the moment with a kiss, but their colleagues rushed in at that exact moment, prompting them to return to a certain level of professionalism.

Later, after all statements had been taken and necessary evidence collected, Sebastian and Tabitha took a trip over to her parents’ townhouse. He personally wanted the Montebellos to know that he was marrying their daughter, to ask for their blessing, and to invite them to come along to the next county to witness their nuptials.

Royce and Christeene were surprised, but not unhappy about the news. They’d always liked Sebastian. The fact that he asked for their blessing and wanted to include them in such an important occasion meant a lot to them.

Assembling into two vehicles after their long talk, Sebastian and his future in-laws caravanned to the next town.

* * *

While Sebastian and Tabitha were enroute to get married, a cell phone call went through to a mansion on the far west side of town. That call had everything to do with evil and nothing to do with righteousness.

“They’re leaving town now, sir. Even got the folks and the little brother with them,” said a red-haired man. His voice was filled with a sense of accomplishment. He deemed his assignment complete and his results positive and immediate. So confident was the red-haired man that he cruised into the parking lot of the local McDonald’s for what would be a large, yet cost-efficient victory meal. Triumph sure gave one quite an appetite.

“They’re gone already? Somehow I don’t see Ms. Montebello as the type to give up so easily. If she was, she would have been gone a long time again,” said a stocky gray-haired man as he sat in his window seat looking out at the last rays of the setting sun. He secretly admired Tabitha’s tenacity…among other things.

“Now that Mr. Armstrong is another story. He can’t stand being here no more than we want him here. Tell you what, just continue to watch the house and let me know the minute they come back to town,” the gray-haired man continued as he puffed on his favorite brand of Cuban cigar. He could care less that the strong smell would not easily leave his gray, single-breasted designer suit. After all, he had plenty of money to have it dry cleaned or else replaced.

“If you want, I can take care of them permanently when they come back, sir,” the red-haired man replied. His eagerness to please was apparent in his voice. He turned off his car and just sat in the McDonald’s parking lot for a while to finish his call.

“Although I don’t care two hoots about disposing of Mr. Armstrong, Ms. Montebello must not be harmed. Too many of our growing minority population looks up to that do-gooder. If she mysteriously dies, there’s liable to be some type of uprising, followed by a demand for a thorough investigation and the like. And we definitely don’t need that here. Therefore, Ms. Montebello must remain alive, at least while she’s in this town.” The gray-haired man puffed on his cigar again and looked away from the window. He knew that if killing Tabitha was the answer to his problems, he would have had that done a long time ago. It was bad enough that the newspapers had a field day with the police department when she was shot ten years ago.

Every black and female reporter in the county had called foul when they learned that Officer Montebello – who faithfully worked with the youth every Saturday at the city’s main recreation center - had been paired with a rookie. A rookie who’d barely made it out of the academy and was reputed to be trigger happy. In fact, it was that same trigger happy rookie who’d initiated the gunfire that led to Tabitha’s near fatal injury. If that wasn’t bad enough, he then fled the scene without her, leaving Tabitha at the mercy of the man who they’d been trying to arrest for domestic abuse.

If it hadn’t been for God’s mercy in causing the abusive man to flee the scene upon shooting a cop and the kindness of some neighbors who called for an ambulance while kneeling over Tabitha’s still figure in prayer, she would have surely bled to death that day. The eldest of those praying women later came to the hospital to see the wounded officer and to officially lead Tabitha to the Lord once she was truly conscious again.

“Okay, so she has to remain alive in this town, which means…” the red-haired man began.

“Before you get any ideas about following them out of town and killing them, keep in mind that that would only stir up trouble for us, too,” the gray-haired man quickly inserted. He knew where his flunky’s mind had gone and was trying to deter it. “People aren’t as stupid as we think. They would surely tie the two incidents together. Especially since they happened so closely together.”

Idiot! No wonder he was at the bottom of his graduating class, the gray-haired man mused. How did he ever make it out of the academy in the first place?

“So you want me to just standby?” Frustration could be heard in the red-haired man’s voice.

“Exactly, and report any information you get back to me before taking any further action. Which means cool it with that trigger finger, all right? You were only supposed to target Mr. Armstrong tonight, remember? I heard about that little note you left for Ms. Montebello. I hope you at least had the sense to wear gloves when you put it on her car.”

Amateur, the gray-haired man mused derisively as two more puffs of smoke went into the air. If he wasn’t running out of loyal men who thought like him, he would have never contracted this kid for such a delicate job. Especially since the red-haired man happened to have a bad case of revenge for the woman who’d cost him his career.

“Of course I used gloves, sir. I even typed the letter on a computer,” the red-haired man said, not wanting to be thought of as an amateur. Needing a smoke, he reached into the right pocket of his black jeans for a pack of cigarettes. The silver lighter he usually carried was in the left breast pocket of his black hard metal t-shirt.

“Good. Now one last thing. You need to get rid of that vehicle of yours. Take it to an out-of-town chop shop or something. Mr. Armstrong positively identified the kind of vehicle it was simply by the sound of the engine and that bad muffler of yours,” the gray-haired man said. “I’ll also need that gun you used tonight.”

The red-haired man winced. Now he wished he’d thought to drive another vehicle that evening. He didn’t want to get rid of his most prized possession. He loved his black Chevy Silverado. As for the gun, he could always get another one of them.

“I’m assuming you’re going to reimburse me for this loss once I do get rid of my car, right?” Cradling the phone in the crook of his neck, the red-haired man used his free hands to light a cigarette and insert it into his mouth. The cigarette pack and lighter were soon returned to their holding places.

“Of course, you’ll be reimbursed. In fact, I want you to buy yourself a new, quieter vehicle while you’re out of town. Your money can be found in its usual place,” the gray-haired man said before promptly concluding the call. He had some money to wire to an out-of-town account. The same account that a certain red-haired man had a debit card to.

© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

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