Chapter 6 – Out on a Ledge
"Jack, say something," Sarah pleaded.
They were both sitting on the fire escape overlooking the alleyway below. The wind had picked up and the temperature was cooler than usual for summer. A rain storm was predicted and Jack felt it was fitting under the circumstances. He stood up and pulled out a cigarette, but didn't light it. He needed to keep his hands occupied so she didn't notice they were trembling.
"There's nothing left to say."
"Jack I do love you, but I need more then promises."
"Is Peterson offering you more than that?"
"Rob?" Jack shook his head a bit. "You've only known him for a month and already you're calling him Rob."
"My relationship with him…"
"Jack please let me finish one sentence." Sarah stood up so she could stand next to him. "My friendship with Rob, is just that, friendship. He's someone I can talk too. He understands me like...like…"
"Like I can't."
"In many ways, yes."
Neither one said much else for the next few minutes both trying to keep the inevitable at bay. The silence unbearable but a welcome mask for the pain that Jack felt. When she pulled his hand into hers a small glimmer of hope formed. When he felt her place a small object in it, his heart completely shattered. The ring he'd worked so hard for was lying in his palm. She closed it and with one final I'm sorry she made her way back into the apartment. Jack didn't have the heart to follow her in and instead descended the metal staircase down to the alley and back onto the certainty of the streets.
"So how are things going with Ms. Jacobs?" Steven asked his employer.
"Things are progressing rather nicely." Robert smiled. "Another month and I'll have her eating out of the palm of my hand."
"What about Kelly?"
"It seems she's had a change of heart. Kelly will soon be a memory."
"Are you sure about that?"
"What are you driving at?"
"I've seen the quiet glances. I'm not so sure their relationship is completely over."
"You have a lot to learn about the human heart. For one it can be very fickle. Take my word, that relationship is history. Soon I will have her completely in my clutches and she won't even know what hit her."
"If you say so."
"I know so."
Steven took his leave and exited the office that Peterson occupied. His instincts were telling him that this little game Robert was playing wouldn't turn out quite the way he imagined it too. And if that was the case, than he had some planning to do on his own.
Mary Anderson was waiting tables at Tibby's when a very distraught looking newsboy walked in the room. She'd known Jack Kelly almost all her life. Not many people knew this but she worked as a newsie for a time until being on the streets was too much to handle. She'd confided in Jack and he helped her get this job. He even helped her pay for a small flat nearby until she was able to make ends meet. That is why she considered him to be a good friend and wasn't too happy when he'd broken the news of his ended relationship.
"I don't understand you seemed so perfect for one another." They were now sitting at a corner table where they could talk in private. "Jack, Sarah loves you. I know you love her."
"I know it sounds like a cliché, but sometimes love is just not enough. Sometimes a person needs more. Apparently this guy fits that bill."
"I don't buy it. There has to be something else going on."
"If there is I'm at a loss as to what that might be."
"What does David say?"
"I left before I could talk to anyone else."
"You should talk to David."
"She's his sister. I'm sure he's got his hands full talking to her now."
"Don't be so sure," she said indicating that he should look toward the door.
She gave Jack a knowing smile as David walked over. "Hi Mary."
"Hi David, usual?"
"No I'm fine. But thanks."
Mary placed a hand over Jack's in comfort. "I better get back to work. But if you need anything, anything at all, you know where to find me. Okay?"
She nodded once to David and walked off leaving the two best friends to talk quietly.
"Balling her eyes out."
"You should be with her."
"She has mom and dad and Les. You on the other hand have a very concerned best friend. Besides she knows where to find me if she needs me. I'm more worried about you."
"Well don't be, I'm fine."
"Don't give me that crap. I've known you long enough to know when you are lying remember."
"You're never going to let me forget that, are you?"
"What the strike, scabbing. Maybe in fifty years I'll consider it."
Jack snickered. "Why is it so much easier to talk to you?" He asked his know it all companion.
"Because I know you better than anyone," David stated sincerely. "Come on, let's go for a walk."
As they left Mary waved goodbye and headed over to a man sitting alone at a table. "Hello, what can I get for you?" She didn't really know why but she didn't like the way this man was staring at her.
"Not for sale. Now anything off the menu?"
"What are your specials?"
"You're very pretty."
"Ah…thank you." Something about him made Mary a bit uncomfortable and she found herself looking around. "Why don't I give you a minute to decide and then I'll head back over to take your order." She was about to leave when he grabbed her hand.
"I have decided."
"Okay," Mary readied her pad and pencil and waited.
"Like I said before, I'm not for sale. Now what would you like to order?"
When he didn't say anything she excused herself and headed into the kitchen. She informed the cooks (that sometimes doubled as bouncers) of the situation. But when they made their way out into the dining room the customer was already gone. She thanked them and with a sigh of relief continued her shift.
Bryan Denton sat gazing at a folder that was lying in the center of his dining room table. Four weeks had gone by and there was no sign of Harris's niece. No sign of what might have lead to her disappearance or the note that she left encrypted with clues to Ms. Deveraux's murder. Clues that were far too accurate to simply be a series of guesses. She knew something was going to happen. She lived on the streets and she knew the ins and outs. But something wasn't right. Unless she was some kind of clairvoyant then there was no way she could have known about the killing beforehand.
A thought which left him wondering if this was in fact the first killing that occurred. But if so something should have come up in the files he and the boys spent the last month searching through. It was rare to find a killing undocumented. It was even rarer to envision it before hand. Which leads to a few theories, either she knows this man and is somehow a part of all this. Or she knows this man but was permanently silenced in order to keep his secret. He was hoping neither was the case. Which lead to another theory, maybe she was in hiding. After witnessing the first killing she decided she would try and stop him. Either way he had to find her. The problem remained, how. And if this wasn't the first murder, then there was no doubt in his mind that there would be more. He needed to find her.
"Mary are you sure you wouldn't like us to walk you home, it's pretty late." Liz and Mike offered. She smiled to her co workers and declined.
"I only live a few blocks over. I'll be fine. See you both in the morning."Again they said their goodnights and separated.
She had just turned a corner when she had the oddest sensation she was being followed. Looking around and seeing no one, she brushed it aside and continued her walk. From her vantage point she could see her small apartment building in the distance. Warm thoughts of a good book and a warm cup of hot chocolate entered her mind and she picked up her pace a little more.
She was about a block away when she felt a cold chill in the air. Wrapping her coat tighter around herself she began to cross the street right in front of an alley way. She couldn't quite process what was happening. One minute she was on the sidewalk and the next she was being dragged into darkness of the alley. Her heart picked up speed as a hand covered her mouth. In that moment she knew she was in trouble.
Okay think, think, think, think, and remember what you learned. One advantage to being an ex newsie was that you knew how to protect yourself. With a dozen or so big brothers looming over you, there was no choice in the matter. She just wished one or two were around right now.
"I want my order," he growled as she skidded across the hard ground. "No one says no to me."
"Well I am."
"Not for long." As he eyed her he pulled out some gloves and what looked like some type of thin wire. A rope maybe.
Mary made her mind go blank and forced herself to analyze her surroundings. She knew that if you worked real hard you could get out of anything. She needed an escape route. When she looked around, she saw one. Buying her time she decided to have a little chat with this man.
"Judging by those clothes, I'd guess you don't live around here."
"So then it makes me wonder. What is someone like you doing here."
"It would be a shame if word got around that someone so high up came down here to have his fun."
"Hitting a cord, am I?"
Suddenly there was a rage in his eyes and she found herself backing around from his pursuing advance. That's when she waited for the right time and picked a weapon.
"I'll kill you bitch."
"Like street rats so much," she shouted. "Well here's one for you."
Leaning over she grabbed the animal by the tail and threw it right into the man face. She heard him scream and the animal squeak as she dashed out of the alley and down the street. For fear he was behind her she didn't want to lead him to her apartment so she ran the few blocks that lead her right into the lodging house and straight into the newsboys.
"Hi'ya Mary!" Mush smiled. "Hey you okay."
"What happened?" Race asked.
She hadn't realized she was dirty and that she was crying to boot. Just as she was telling her tale, Jack and David arrived and a few of the newsboys went out to look for the guy who had attacked her. While describing him Jack and David exchanged looks and David went for Denton who immediately called his friend with the police department. The next few hours went by in a blur. But she managed to give her statements as well as a description for the composite drawing.
Finally when it was all over she headed home, flanked of course by a few of the boys. Jack being Jack didn't let her out of his sight. So he headed upstairs with her and decided to make camp outside her door. Thankful but a bit irritated she didn't do much but nod. Exhausted from the ordeal she climbed into bed fully clothed and let sleep wash away the last few hours.
"So what do you think?" David asked Denton as they sat in his carriage. "Do you think it could be the same guy?"
"I'm not sure. The description is the same."
"If this man is responsible for all these murders then he's going to be hard to find."
"I agree," the older man replied. "He's been doing this for awhile which tells me that he's not going to take Mary's escape lightly."
"You think he may go after her again?"
"She can identify him. Judging from what I've gathered. He's in this for control and that means he won't stop until he's captured or killed."
"You've been investigating these things along time. How do you keep your sanity?"
Denton smiled. "Try not to think about it more then I need too I guess." David nodded. "Don't worry David, we'll get this guy." Bryan placed an arm around him and he felt a warmth he'd never quite experienced.
The younger man looked up at his mentor but Bryan was too lost in his own thoughts to realize how he'd been affected. When the coach stopped he released his hold and David felt saddened by the lost affection.
"Well here's my stop. Thank you for the ride."
"Are you still coming over for dinner tomorrow night?"
"Right after work."
"Good, see you in the morning."
"See you in the morning Dave."
David waved as the coachman rode away. Left with the feel of that arm still wrapped around him.
AN: Sorry for the wait. Hopefully this story is at least somewhat entertaining. :)