The Train: Episode 56

From across the floor, Nicole kept her eyes trained on Terry Herbert Wilson. He sat at a table near the stage watching Cynthia Cooper’s every move. Her sultry voice filled the club as her body swayed to the rhythm of the music, the sequins of her gold gown flashing and shimmering in the light. Wilson had forced the child Lincoln to sit beside him and keep quiet. The boy looked as though he were waiting for something to happen. Nicole was enraged that this innocent child was in the hands of such low life.

As she watched, a man walked over to Wilson and bent down to speak to him.

Nicole had been reading lips since she was a young girl and had no trouble “listening” to their conversation. Throughout her childhood, her guardian had considered her rebellious, a troublemaker. Whenever she challenged him, he locked her in the attic while the other children played in the yard. She always took a seat by the window and practiced reading their lips. Over the years, she had found that the skill made surveillance much more effective.

“Sir, you wanted me to remind you there’s a meeting. Shall I drive you?”

“No. I need to make some other stops. It’s not far from here. I’ll walk,” Wilson said as he stood and slipped on his overcoat.

“What’s going on?’ Dr. Ricer asked.

“The slug is leaving,” Nicole said. “He has a meeting.”

“You watch the boy, Doc, while I see where the rat goes.”

Ricer didn’t bother arguing. At this point, her plan was as good as any.

* * *

Nicole followed at a distance as Wilson left the club and walked a few blocks down to an all-night diner. He stepped inside and took a table near the door. Before he could slip off his overcoat, a young woman approached his table and asked,

“What can I get for you?”

From where she stood, Nicole couldn’t read Wilson’s lips, so she quickly moved to a different spot and watched.

“We don’t have that,” the waitress responded to his order.

“How about this? I buy whatever you like, and you sit on my lap,” Wilson said ogling her.

“You’re bad,” the girl said, rolling her eyes as she giggled.

“What time you get off, honey,” Wilson asked.

“Same time as always,” she purred. “Why?”

“Maybe I’ll have some free time. I could use the company,” Wilson said.

“You want my company, you got to pay. You know how Mr. Armstrong is. No giveaways,” she answered.

“But I thought I was special,” Wilson said.

“That don’t mean nothing,” the waitress said fanning her order pad. “Rules are rules. Mr. Armstrong says no free samples.”

“Fine,” Wilson said in frustration.

Rising from the table, he turned toward the front door but stopped and stepped up close to the waitress.

“I’ll be back with the money, so don’t go making any plans,” he said then slapped her butt and gave her a wink.

Nicole stepped out of sight and waited as Wilson left the diner and continued down the sidewalk to his meeting. After a couple of blocks, he stopped and turned down an alley. At the end, two men were roughing up a pudgy man with a thinning hairline. As Wilson approached, he heard the man pleading for mercy.

“That’s enough,” Wilson ordered.

Except for a dim light over the back door of a shoe shop, the alley was draped in darkness, giving Nicole safe cover. Edging along the brick wall, she drew closer to hear their conversation.

“Mr. Sharpe,” Wilson said coming up to the frightened man, “when I agreed to loan you money, it was with the understanding that you would pay me back. But now I hear you are behind in your payments. Two payments late, Mr. Sharpe.”

“Three,” one of the men corrected.

“Three whole payments?” Wilson asked feigning shock. “Oh my!”

“I’m trying, Mr. Wilson. Alice has been working double shifts, but my daughter is still recovering from the surgery so she can’t go back to work yet. And then they cut my hours at the plant. I can’t pay all of it, but I pay what I can. You’ll get your money, I promise. I just need more time,” Mr. Sharpe pleaded.

“Don’t worry, Sharpe. You’ll pay off the loan. I know you will. Your daughter can always work it off, and I have the perfect job for her, once she’s old enough,” Wilson said.

“Please,” Sharpe begged.

“Well, now that I think about it, she may be old enough now.”

“I won’t miss another payment, Mr. Wilson,” Sharpe replied. “I promise.”

“I know you won’t. Have faith in yourself,” Wilson said. “I do.”

Laughing at the little man’s misfortune, Wilson turned to walk away, leaving Sharpe to the two men. Nicole stood still until Wilson had left the alleyway then she quickly looked around for a weapon. Seeing a discarded water pipe, she snatched it from the pavement. In one swift move, she sprang from the darkness, struck one of the men across the head, then grabbed his gun and shot the second man in the legs, the silencer masking all but two pops. Before he could cry out, she hit him with the pipe, knocking him unconscious. She knew both men might be dead, but she didn’t really care. Turning to Sharpe who was shaking in fear, she ordered,

“Leave!”

Without a word, Sharpe ran toward the street, never looking back.

Nicole dropped the pipe but kept the gun as she hurried toward the street to catch sight of Wilson. She saw him just as he entered a large brick building across the street, so she quickly followed. When she got closer, she saw that two men guarded the front entrance. Deciding not to waste time tangling with them, she moved to the side of the building and scaled the wall. When she found an open window, she slipped inside.

Softly dropping to the floor, she saw that the room was dark and empty. When she heard voices coming from the next room, she silently moved toward them. The door was ajar and in the center of the well-lit room, three men surrounded a man seated in a chair.

Just then, Wilson walked through a door across the room and approached the chair. In a humble tone, he said,

“I hope I’m not late, sir. I came as soon as I got your summons.”

The man seated in the chair spoke.

“Fine, Wilson. My problem is not with you but with your girlfriend Cynthia. I want a guarantee that she’ll keep her mouth shut about what she saw that night she sang at my party.”

“Oh no, sir. She won’t say anything. She doesn’t know anything at all, much less have brains enough to think outside herself,” Wilson assured him.

“Good. That was an unpleasant night, and I will not have my actions thrown back in my face,” the man insisted.

Suddenly the door opened again and this time a short bald man entered the room. He walked up to the man in the chair and said,

“Mr. Armstrong, I went to Cooper’s place like you said, but she wasn’t there. I did run into someone else, though, and he wants to speak with you.”

“Who is he?” Armstrong asked.

“William Spencer,” the short man said. “He’s waiting outside for you.”

“What does he want?” Armstrong asked.

“I think he’s a PI, sir.”

“Luther,” Armstrong growled, “why did you bring him here?”

“He didn’t give me much choice, sir. He took my gun and threatened to kill me if I didn’t bring him to you,” Luther explained.

“Fine,” Armstrong sighed. “Send him in.”

When the door opened again, Nicole saw Michael calmly walk into the room, a big smile across his face.

“What’s he up to?” she wondered.

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Published in: on January 16, 2016 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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