Mystery and Crime Fiction posted February 6, 2017 Chapters: 1 -2- 3... 


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Jeff had the perfect life until he met the Debt Collector

A chapter in the book Debt Collector

Rocky Beginning

by Mistydawn


Summary
Jeff is told he can help Bruno Bambini with his shady business or watch his family die a slow, painful death. How far will Jeff go to save the ones he loves?


Jeff nervously glances around the room as he and Luigi wait for the elevator to arrive. He's hoping to get someone's attention, but everyone is so preoccupied, he doubts they even notice he's there. He thought about calling out to them, but what would he say if he did, I'm being kidnapped? He didn't think that would go over too well. 

He looks up to find the elevator is stalled on the fifth floor. I wish it would just stay there, he thinks. He wasn't sure what he's about to do but knows it has to be illegal. He's scanning through a list of possibilities when a horrendous thought comes to mind. What if they want me to kill someone? I can't take a life to save my own, can I? How will I live with myself if I do? The elevator door slides open, he nervously glances over at Luigi. Please don't make me kill someone, oh please, he thinks as tears swell in his eyes.

Luigi leans towards him and whispers: "You're doing good, pal." He nudges him inside. Jeff takes a quick mental picture of his colleagues. It's been great knowing you, Jeff thinks. His anxiety begins to skyrocket as the elevator plunges downward.  Please, God, Please save me from this horrid fate, he prays. 

Jeff sees his boss returning from lunch when the door slides open. You were listening. His new found relief is quickly replaced with uncertainty. How am I going to tell him without Luigi catching on? He thought about just saying it, but figures it'd get everybody killed. Please, God, please help me figure this out. He takes a big gulp of courage before he begins. "Hi, Mr. Hensley."  He silently mouths. I'm being kidnapped. 

"What?"

"How are you, sir?" He subvocalises, call the police. Cocking his head to the side, his boss mouths back, call your wife? Jeff glances over at Luigi then shakes his head. The cops, the cops he mimes. 

"Pops is fine, Jeff, thanks for asking." His boss gives him a curious look not sure on what's going on.

Jeff feels something hard press into his back as he's being nudged towards the basement.  "Looks like my client is kidnapping me, sir."He nervously chuckles. Then silently mouths help.

 "Seems that way. Well, you two go have some fun."  Mr. Henslely steps onto the elevator.

"I'm sure we'll have a blast, right Jeffy baby?" Luigi pushes the weapon deeper into his skin.

"Yeah, a blast." 

"Good, you deserve it." Jeff feels his stomach tighten into a huge knot as the elevator doors pull to.

"No more stunts, you understand me." Luigi shoves his gun deeper into his spine. Jeff winces from the pain. "You better, because I'm not warning you again. Now walk," he orders, pushing Jeff toward the cars. 

***

A strong gust of wind pushes Julie backward as she tries to open the van door. Aggravated, she tries again. "Hurry girls, hurry," she coaxes.  Julie looks up to see the sky darkening with every passing second. We're in for one heck of a storm, she thinks, glancing at the girls. "Come on, let's go, let's go." Hearing the urgency in their mom's voice, the girls slide from their seats. Grabbing their hands, Julie drags them across the lot. Newspaper and other debris fly past them as they continue on.

"I want you to be on your best behavior," she instructs once they were safely inside.

"Yes, Mommy," the girls reply in unison.

Finding the dispatcher at his desk, Julie runs over to him.

An older man glances up from his paper. "Can I help you?"

"My name is Julie Donaldson, and my house was just burglarized."

"What's the address?" the officer asks.

"Look who I found," Rebecca says. Julie turns to see her best friend walking toward her.

"Rebecca said you found a picture of you guys in your yard?"

"That's only part of it, Rachel. I noticed the front door was partially open so I came here."

"Is an officer checking it out for you?"

"I need the address," The dispatcher repeats.

"Yes, of course, it's 225 Circle Drive."

"Can I look at your picture?"

"Sure." She pulls the photo out of her purse. "I have the envelope too." She reaches deeper into her bag. "Abby opened it," she explains as she hands over the remaining bits.

"I'll take it to our lab, see if they can tell us anything. Rachel starts to walk off when she hears Joe's voice down the hallway. "Oh no, it's the boss man," she jokingly replies. 

Joe has been a part of the force for over 20 years, and a family friend for nearly as long. He was her mentor for her private investigation and her police academy training. Now she works alongside him.

"Did you get lost on the way back?" Joe asks.

"It was my fault, sir. Someone broke into my home, and left this picture on my lawn," Julie quickly explains as she points to the photo in Rachel's hands.

"I'm taking it to our lab, see what they can find."

"Did Sharon have anything for us?"

"Not yet. She said she'll call if she does. Well, let me get this to our lab."

***

Luigi has been driving for what seems like an eternity. All of his weaving through the traffic is making Jeff sick. 

"What's the job?" Jeff asks as he pulls a pack of gum from his pocket. Peppermint always calms his stomach.

"You'll see." Luigi smiles.

"I'm not going to kill anyone, am I?"

Is that why you're so worried? You think Mr. Bambini is going to send you out to kill people?" Noticing the horror on the lackey's face he chuckles. "He wouldn't make you kill anyone, at least not yet." Seeing Jeff's face turn ghostly white, he laughs. He loves messing with the boss's newbies, especially wound up executive types like him. Luigi slides Jeff's car into the parking lot. Finding what he's looking for, he parks alongside it. Jeff gives him an inquisitive look. "Bambini wants you to drive the Corvette back to his shop. It better not have a single dent in it if you want to keep your family alive."

"I... I don't know how to hotwire a car." 

"Good thing I brought these." Luigi hands him a set of keys. "Now go, before the owner catches you."

Jeff glances at the car, then at the guy. He's never done anything illegal in his life and he really didn't want to start now. "I can't steal a man's vehicle," he protests as he grabs his churning stomach.

"You're not, his car is collateral on a loan and he's refusing to pay."

"Oh." He glances at the vehicle again.

"If you don't want to do this, I can always take you to Bambini, let him deal with you, but you already know what he'll do."
 
Jeff figures a man like Bambini could wipe out his entire family within the hour. "No, no. I'll do it." Jeff scans the area for potential witnesses as he climbs out of his car. He soon realizes that everyone is too busy trying to get out of the storm to pay attention to him.

Opening the door, Jeff slides inside. The totality of the situation hits him, paralyzing him with fear. Just start this thing and go. His hands start to tremble as he reaches for the ignition. Using his opposite hand to steady his extremity, he manages to get the key in the slot. Here I go. Taking a big gulp of courage, he turns the mechanism; the engine roars to life. He starts to reach for the gearshift when a horrifying image comes to mind. He pictures himself being locked away behind cold metal bars. I can't let that happen, I just can't. Throwing the vehicle into gear, he peels onto the highway. "Please, let me get this car back safely, oh please," he begs as several vehicles whiz past him.

He notices a squad car behind him when the traffic finally clears. Not now. He glances at the road and then back at them again. I need to stay calm and drive like nothing's wrong. Taking a deep breath, he looks towards the road. I can do this, he thinks as he nervously readjusts himself in the seat. After what seems like an eternity, he glances in the mirror again. He soon discovers the squad car is a mere car length away. Panicking, Jeff changes lanes. I forgot to use my turn signal. He peeps in the mirror to find the state trooper has followed him over.

"Oh no, oh no." He cuts in front of a Volkswagon hoping to put a car between them; the cop follows him over instead. "What should I do now?" he nervously asks, trying to come up with a plan. His stomach churns with fury as he begins to heave. "Not now, oh, please not now," he begs as the nasty tasting bile rises to his mouth.

Characters
Jeff Donaldson, the man forced to commit crimes to save his family
Julie Donaldson, Jeff's wife
Abby, Rebecca Donaldson, Jeff and Julie's girls
Luigi Ricci, Bruno Bambini's goon
Bruno Bambini, kingpin.

Berryville PD
Joe, sergeant
Rachel, detective
Jerry, detective,
Sharon, ME, head of forensics

 


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