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Wonderland (Part Six)

Wonderland

A Jack Collier Mystery

By Brett N. Lashuay

Look here for last week’s entry!

 

Part Six: Aiding and Abetting

 

            Bill and Pat were standing together on the porch, away from the front door. I gave them barely a glance as I walked to the door and hammered on it with my fist. After giving it half a dozen pounds, I shouted through the door. I guessed that he would come on the hop.

 

            “Peter!” I shouted into the door. “Open up.”

 

            “Jack?” I heard through the door.

 

            “Yeah. Open up,” I said.

 

            The door opened a crack and I could see one of Peter’s watery blue eyes glinting out at me. I placed my hand on the door and gave it some pressure, hoping he would move. He gave ground and the four of us entered the house, to find that his shirt and pants had a lot of blood on them and his left eye had swollen up from a beating someone beside Jubjub had given him.

 

            “What the fuck happened to you?” Pat asked, speaking all our minds if not our exact vocal tones.

 

            “Nothing,” Peter said.

            “Something happened,” I said, trying to sound a little more understanding than Pat.

 

            “I fell, cut myself shaving, ran into a door,” He said sitting down on his couch, which I noticed was old, abused, and misshapen.

 

            He grabbed a pack of cigarettes from the table and pulled one out. He put the cigarette in his mouth and lit it with a plastic lighter. He tried to move the cigarette around but found his jaw didn’t want to move. He rubbed gently at his jaw and drew on the cigarette.

 

            “Okay,” I said, nodding. “I’ll put this another way. What did you touch at Jabber’s house?”

 

            “What?” Rabbit asked taking a step forward.

 

            “What do you mean?” Peter asked, taking the cigarette from his mouth.

 

            He was shaking so bad that he dropped the cigarette and had to scramble for it to avoid burning his carpet any worse than it already was. He put the cigarette down in the ashtray and his hand was shaking so bad that he had to more or less just drop the burning ember and hope for the best.

 

            “This isn’t going to juvie for a couple of months because you stole some produce from the farmers’ market,” I said, trying to drive home the point. “Jabber’s head is in your brother’s warehouse and who knows where the rest of the heads are. You think that they won’t get your fingerprints off the place? They’ll get them, they’ll match you up to them, and then you’re going down for killing half a dozen people in a fairly grizzly manner.”

 

            “Oh fuck,” Peter said and pulled his knees up to his chest. “Oh, fuck me, fuck me, fuck me.”

 

            He started to rock back and forth, tears streaming down his face. I turned to Bill and Pat, pointing them towards the door. They left quickly and while I was trying to decide if I should nudge Mister Rabbit in that direction, he walked out behind them. The door closed and I watched as they passed the window on their way to the sidewalk.

 

            “Okay,” I told him. “They’re gone, tell me.”

 

            “They’ll fucking kill me,” Peter sobbed.

 

            “First Jabber was going to kill you, then Flopsy was going to kill you,” I reminded him. “Who’s going to kill you this time?”

 

            “Chester and that girl,” He sobbed.

 

            “Ah,” was all I could manage, because they might really do it. “Tell me, and I’ll see what I can do.”

 

            “They were there at the warehouse when we got there. The girl was setting up Jabber’s head on that thing.”

 

            “Miss Heart was there alone?”

 

            “No,” he shook his head. “Chester was there with this big black duffle bag. It had, you know, the others.”

 

            “The others’ heads?”

 

            “Yeah,” He looked like he wanted to vomit over the idea. “They made me bury them.”

 

            “Bury the heads?”

 

            “Yeah,” he nodded again, looking at nothing. I can’t do that, my eyes always fix on something but his clearly weren’t.

 

            “Were they just in the duffle bag?”

 

            “Huh?” he asked suddenly. “No, they had them each in a plastic bag, some sort of thick plastic. It was like the stuff they put over a house when it’s half built, you know?”

 

            “Yes,” I said, nodding.

 

            “They made me take each head out of the bag and bury it.”

 

            “Where?” I asked.

 

            “We must have driven around for three hours,” he said, shivering again. “The girl, she’d drive past one field and another and then pull over and make me bury another head where she told me.”

 

            “What was Chester doing during all this?”

 

            “Just sitting there, watching.”

 

            “He didn’t say anything?”

 

            “No, the girl did,” he said. “She kept telling me where to dig, and how to take the head out of the bag. That girl’s crazy, you know? She kept making me get blood on me and made me stick my fingers in the bullet holes and stuff. I mean she made me stick my middle finger into Rath’s forehead to feel where the bullet was.”

 

            “Did Chester or Miss Heart say why they needed you along?”

 

            “Yeah,” he nodded. “The girl did.”

 

            I wondered if I reminded him that her name was Miss Heart, would he quit calling her the girl. Probably not, and forcing the issue might break what little concentration he had. He looked scared, really scared. The problem of course was that he was so scared of her that he didn’t seem to grasp that she was literally coating him with evidence. I again took in his blood stained clothes and hands. I wondered if I shouldn’t just walk out the door, get in my car, drive back to the office and tear up Rabbit’s check. I could probably argue that while he’d been to my office I declined to take the job.

 

            The problem with that of course was Peter. He was just a dumb junkie who used to work in porn and was in way over his head. I winced a little at the fact that I had clearly just made a pun out of the deaths of six people.

 

            “Well?” I asked.

 

            “She said that it was all my fault they were dead and I had to help clean up.”

 

            “What about Mary Ann?” I asked.

 

            “No, they told her to fuck off, you know?” he said and reached for his cigarette again. “Shit, they’re gonna kill me for talking.”

 

            “I doubt it,” I said. “You know where Mary Ann went?”

 

            “She fucked off,” he said, shrugging. “Hell, maybe they went after her later.”

 

            I had a quick argument with myself, and I must say that I lost the point in a sudden death one-on-one basketball match. I looked down the hall for his bedroom and then back at him. I then pulled out my cell phone and checked the time.

 

            “Where are your clothes?” I asked.

 

            “In my dresser, but I can get them.”

 

            “No,” I said pointing at him. “Put on a coat and some gloves.”

 

            I went to his room and grabbed a full compliment of clothes for him. I put them in a plastic shopping bag and left them on the table. I walked to his linen closet and was gratified to find that he actually had a tablecloth. I grabbed that and some towels and got a garbage bag from the kitchen. I put everything, along with another three or four garbage bags on the table. I then took a moment to consider how much trouble I was causing for myself. I mean this wasn’t just bending the law a little, this was going to be full-out aiding and abetting a wanted criminal. As soon as Alice told her bosses what happened, they no doubt ran to the scene of the crime to find the bodies. Since Alice was inside Rabbit’s operation, it was just a matter of time before they got here and no doubt they were already on the way.

 

            “Come on,” I told Peter, who was covered up pretty well in a big overcoat and gloves.

 

            “Where?”

 

            “No fucking questions,” I threw the bags at him as we walked out and I looked at Rabbit and company. “Get out of here, you don’t know what happened, you never saw Peter, get it?”

 

            “Yes,” Mister Rabbit said nodding. “But…”

 

            “If you’re not normally in this area, get the fuck out of it. We’ve got minutes, if not seconds to get gone.” I grabbed the tablecloth and quickly spread it over the front passenger seat of my car, putting a towel down on the floor just in case. “Come on Pete.”

 

            It’s true that I might be paranoid, but in a situation like this it’s better to believe that they’re right behind you rather than miles off. Peter seemed to understand and got into the car. I closed it behind him and got in and started the engine. Another thought occurred to me as I drove off with Peter in the car. If Amy had gone to all this trouble to frame him, how upset would she be with me for doing everything I could to get rid of the evidence? Of course there would be all those prints she made sure he left on the plastic, but that could be explained away by a clever attorney. Of course if I was right about her reasons for doing this, she wouldn’t be too upset with me. As we drove, I pulled out my phone and called a friend of mine.

 

            “Woodward Motel, Cary speaking,” her voice came over and I thanked whatever being made sure I had luck on hand.

 

            “Hey beautiful,” I said smiling my best into the phone. “Can you loan me a room for a couple of hours?”

 

            “You have a home for that sort of thing don’t you?” she asked, and I could hear the smile. “Or don’t you want her to know where you live?”

 

            “It’s a he,” I said.

 

            “Well, no wonder you don’t want anyone to know,” she laughed.

 

            “You got a room free?” I asked.

 

            “Yeah,” she said. “A couple, what kind do you need?”

 

            “Just something with a bathroom. I’ll need some lava soap, shampoo, all of those things. I’ll need to borrow a metal garbage can or something too.”

 

            “Okay,” she said with a false sigh. “You can have a room for a while.”

 

            “Thanks babe,” I said. “I owe you one.”

 

            “You owe me several,” she corrected. “But we’ll discuss that over dinner.”

 

            “I probably can’t tonight, but we will discuss it over dinner soon,” I agreed.

 

            “Good enough,” she said. “How long?”

 

            “About half an hour,” I said, “I’m just leaving Mt. Clemens now.”

 

            “What are you doing there?”

 

            “I’ll explain over that dinner we discussed,” I told her and we both hung up.

 

            “Where are we going?” Peter asked.

 

            “A hotel,” I told him. “A friend of mine runs a motor lodge, you can get cleaned up and we’ll get rid of these clothes.”

 

            “Then what?”

 

            “Then I don’t know,” I said as I watched a police car turn out of a gas station and start to follow us. I felt my stomach knot up and it didn’t even think to unknot until the car went past us to pull over someone in the other lane. It’s a good thing I don’t worry too much, or I’d be in a lot of trouble.

 

            When we pulled into the parking lot, Cary was already standing outside the office with a bag in hand. She looked good, better than she had last time I’d seen her. Of course last time I saw her was after I’d dealt with a boyfriend who had decided that he needed to hit a four foot eleven inch girl to make himself feel big. She handed it over to me and pulled a key from her back pocket. It was an actual key with a big plastic paddle that said the name of the hotel on it and the number twenty-seven.

 

            “Thanks,” I said looking in the bag at the personal cleaning supplies she’d gotten for me.

 

            “Well, you hardly make a regular habit of it,” she said smiling up at me. Her jaw fell open when she saw Peter get out of the car. “Holy shit, is that Peter Rabbit?”

 

            “Yes,” I agreed.

 

            “Wow, he’s… he’s just.”

 

            “So I understand,” I agreed. “And while I would love you indulge your private fantasy, as you can see, he’s had a bad morning.”

 

            “Well, yeah,” she nodded.

 

            “Just between us please,” I said. “He’s in a lot of trouble if I don’t help him.”

 

            “Hey,” She punched me lightly on the shoulder, “I take all my orders from you captain. We’re all in it together.”

 

            “Thanks,” I said. “We’ll be out of your hair in a little while.”

 

            “No problem,” she said with a smile. “I’ll get a can we can burn his clothes in. Leave the car open and I’ll get the tablecloth too.”

 

            “Well aren’t you an efficient little accomplice?” I asked.

           

            “Well, if I’m nice to him, he might not be having a bad day later and will remember my kindness,” she smiled at me as I walked towards Peter and we went up the stairs to the motel’s second level.

 

 

This is part six of twelve, come back next week for part seven and every Thursday until we’re done to see what happens next. If you get lost, one of the tags here should help you. The Wonderland tag will take you to the story while the Jack Tag will take you to Part One of every story we post here.

 

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February 5, 2009 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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