Saturday, September 16, 2017

Miami Stories Vol. 5 Part 2


It was pitch black inside Dani’s apartment. I never really paid attention to the decor when I came over. In the dark it was terrifying, especially given the circumstances. I thought about the first time I ever made my way back to her bedroom as I tripped over a pair of shoes. It was bright and warm that day as I walked past all her furniture. Her smile was bright and inviting as I followed her past all the pastel colors. We walked back into a bedroom lined with posters of cats and terrible bands. I remembered how open she was when she laid there on her bed and I immediately snapped back into the darkness. She was nowhere to be found in the apartment. I stumbled back down to my car in a fog. 

As I sat back in the seat and started the Porsche I began to think of where Dani might go. Before I put much more thought into it I called Erin. The phone rang twice and she greeted me in a groggy tone:

“Hello?”

“Erin, are you okay?”

“Yeah I was sleeping.”

“I’m on my way back, okay?”

“Okay.”

The Porsche flew down the avenues towards the bay. I was paranoid at this point that everyone was in danger of losing their life. The Porsche snarled as I wrestled it through the parking deck. I parked and grabbed my pistol from the passenger seat. I got out and rushed my way to the elevator. I made it to the 26th floor with the gun tucked close to my hip. I hugged the wall to my door and quietly placed my key in the lock. I pushed through the door into a well lit space, nothing seemed out of place. I lowered my gun as I walked into the kitchen and saw Erin had helped herself to all the Guinness she could drink. I made my way down the hallway to the bedroom containing a slumbering Erin.

I let out a relieved sigh as I laid the gun down on the nightstand. I sat on the edge of the bed and glared lovingly at Erin’s sleeping face. I got back up and walked back down the hallway to the glass leading to my balcony. I slid the door closed behind me as I stepped out. I pulled out my phone and called up Tony. The phone rang twice and he picked up in a confused tone:

“Paul?”

“Tony, have you heard from Dani?”

“Fuck no! Fuck that bitch!”

“My sentiments exactly. Look bro, be careful-”

“What?”

“I’m pretty sure she killed Taylor, bruh. She showed up at my place in Charlotte a few weeks ago out of nowhere.”

“Fuck bro, I’m sorry. I can’t believe this shit.”

“It’s okay, but I need to find her before she hurts anybody else.”

“I’m not sure where the fuck she is. I haven’t talked to her since I found out she was a lying bitch.”

“I’m in town, I’ll make the run out to Homestead tomorrow bro so I can catch you up on everything.”

“Okay man, just hit me up.”

I hung up the phone and stared from the balcony out at the water. It was like wherever I went or whatever I did, I was destined to be miserable. I began to wonder if I could trust myself after doing the same to Taylor that Erin did to me. I ran away from the problems facing me and ended up in someone else’s arms. Honestly, I felt alone still after everything that happened. I had to live with destroying the lives of others around me on a regular basis. 

I walked back to the bedroom and Erin woke up as I walked through the door. She opened her big brown eyes and smiled as she looked up at me. I sat down on the bed and gave her a kiss, and she greeted me:

“Well I’m glad you made it back alive.”

“Yeah me too.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay. I’m gonna go take a shower, I have a long day tomorrow.”

I started the water and looked through the glass at Erin laying there as I washed the day off my body. As the water ran over my face I could see Taylor walking across the room looking out the window at the city. I could hear the conversation I had with Jack when I met him in Ohio in my head:

“Paul, I don’t care what you do, just take care of my little girl.”

“I promise you I’ll keep her out of harm’s way.”

“I’m gonna hold you to that, kid.”

I walked out of the shower and grabbed a towel. I walked over to the bedroom and sat down next to Erin and gently prodded her awake. She looked up at me and asked:

“What?”

“You should go back home.”

“Wait, what?”

“This isn’t your fight and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“Paul. Don’t do this.”

“Erin, I’m putting you on a plane in the morning. Please just go.”

“Paul, what are you about to do? Let the police do their jobs. This isn’t the way you want this to go.”

“I’ll be fine.”

I kissed her forehead and headed to the living room. As I walked down the hallway I could hear her sobbing in the bedroom. I grabbed a spot on the couch and turned on the TV. As the images lit up my face, the tears welled up in my eyes. I knew I couldn’t avenge Taylor’s death, but I could at least confront the maniac that killed her. I slowly drifted off to sleep as the TV played all night.

I woke up to the morning news playing. I called the US Airways reservation line and booked Erin’s flight home. After hanging up, I got off the couch and walked back towards the bedroom. Before I made it to the kitchen, my phone rang, it was my assistant:

“Paul, that flight better be you coming back home.”

“Liz, I have to take care of a bunch of shit here in Miami.”

“Like what? Because it seems like you have a bunch of shit to take care of here too. Tim Sloan is under the impression you abandoned your job. And if you don’t-”

“Liz! Just figure it out.” 

I hung up the phone and walked through the entrance of my bedroom to still find Erin slumbering, I noticed the hazy glow through the windows. I walked past her to my closet and stepped inside. I opened the security app on my phone scanned my fingerprint, and a small shelf appeared from the wall. I grabbed a $10,000 bundle and closed the safe. I walked back out into the room and sat the money on the bed right next to Erin’s face. I poked her shoulder a few times and she came alive with a cough:

“Paul?”

“That’s 10 grand. Get on the plane. I’ll see you when this is all over.”

“Paul what about your job? Don’t you need to get back?”

“Erin, take the money and go home. There’s a car coming in an hour to pick you up.”

I walked back out of the room towards the kitchen, and heard Erin yell out from the room behind me:

“Paul, why do you always have to do this shit?”

“What?”

I could hear her bare footsteps running down the hallway as I reached into the fridge for the eggs. As I closed the door to the fridge, I see a naked, scowling Erin standing in front of me. She looked me in my eyes and yelled:

“I’m sick of this self-destructive shit with you. Do you want me to feel sorry for you?”

“No, I want you to go home and relax.”

“How am I supposed to do that knowing you’re here on some wild chase to exact revenge on somebody?”

“Can you just trust what I’m telling you for once?”

“Fine, fuck you Paul. Just please come home.” 

“I will.”

Erin stood on her toes to give me a quick kiss and scurried off down the hall to the bedroom. Erin got herself ready for the ride home as I watched the eggs sizzle in the pan. By the time the eggs were firm, Erin returned to the kitchen, ready to leave. I grabbed some plates from the cabinet, and encouraged her to eat with me before the car came to pick her up. I walked with her to the elevator, and rode down to the lobby. The elevator was pure silence as I held her bags in the corner. I strutted two steps behind her out to the Suburban where the driver grabbed the bags from me. Erin turned around and lifted her arms over my shoulders and whispered in my ear:

“Just come back in one piece. Please.”

“I will.”

I craned over to briefly kiss her lips before she turned and climbed into the back of the oversized vehicle. I stood and watched as it made its way down the block. As the giant, black SUV disappeared into the morning sunlight I made my way back into the building. I made my way back up to my condo to get myself ready for the day. As I walked through the door, I pulled my phone from my pocket to check the time. It was 9:07 and I wasn't even close to ready to start my day. I dialed up Tony to only receive many rings in return. I assumed he was at work already toiling away but I didn’t think he wouldn’t answer his phone. I had other matters I wanted to attend to first though.

I sat on the couch and grabbed my laptop from the end table. I was scheming, the 911 GTS had become a bit too conspicuous for my liking and I really wanted something suited for Charlotte’s four-season climate instead of Miami’s sunbathing-in-the-winter type of weather. I pulled up the website of my favorite local dealer, The Collection. I quickly searched the new inventory and there it was, a new 911 Targa 4S in Macadamia Metallic with a cocoa leather interior. I called my go to salesman at The Collection, Manny, the phone rang twice to his excited voice:

“Paul! Where have you been buddy?”

“You know me, I’m always on the move.”

“What can I do for you for my friend?”

“You got a brown targa. I’m gonna come get it today.”

“Oh man! You want that thing? What about your GTS?”

“I’m trading it in. Tell Jimmy I’ll do an even trade for it. That’ll definitely put some money in your pocket.”

“Buddy why would you want to take that big of a loss on that car?”

“Because I don’t want it anymore. I’ll be over in like 30 minutes.”

“Okay buddy I’ll get everything ready.”

I hung up the phone and sank into the couch, my phone buzzed and I saw a text from Erin. “First class was unnecessary, but thank you.” Before I could manage to be annoyed I decided to get dressed. I ran my arms into the sleeves of a white Ike Behar spread collar oxford and pulled up a pair of navy Ralph Lauren chinos to my waist. After buttoning and tucking everything into place, I slung my gun holster over my shoulders, and grabbed my favorite navy blazer off the rack. I holstered my two Smith & Wesson M&P .40 pistols. I strutted back out to the living room and looked out over the bay one more time before heading out the door.

I made my way out of the elevator to the parking garage, and chirped the alarm on the Porsche as I rounded the corner. I quickly settled into the seat and listened for the distinct, low howl as I twisted my left wrist. I cruised slowly on the short drive to Coral Gables. As I waited at a light I saw a green Mustang convertible roll through the intersection. I almost thought I caught a glimpse of Jamie’s face as it went by, but I knew it was just my mind playing terrible tricks on me. 

I came around the corner to the covered parking area behind the store. I handed the porter my keys as I walked through the door to Manny loudly greeting me at the door:

“Paul! What are you dying or something man?”

“Nah, Manny I’m finally coming alive!”

After a tight hug, we walked over to his office and I started a quick conversation:

“Manny, I told you what I was ready to do over the phone.”

“Look, I have good news Paul. You paid 160 for the GTS and Jimmy got a buy-bid of 140 for it. The Targa you wanted is only 120. Take from that what you will my friend.”

“So you’re saying I'm breaking even…”

“Jimmy will get them to cut you a check right now, and you leave in the Targa.”

“Well let me take that before I fuck it up then.”

“Congratulations my friend!”

As Manny shook my hand to death I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I handed Manny my license and insurance card and he scurried out the office. I pulled my phone from my pocket to see a new message from Dani. It was a picture of a jetty with an ocean view. I thought nothing of it until another message popped up on the screen: “Key West is still pretty this time of the year.”

I immediately dialed Demitri on the phone and he picked up half asleep:

“Paul, what’s up?”

“Are you in Key West?”

“No I’m in North Carolina visiting Nate, is everything okay?

“Yeah, I was headed that way to go check my boat at the marina and just wondered if you were home.”

“I’ll be back down there tomorrow if you’re sticking around.”

“Nah, I’ll see you next time I’m down there though.”

“Okay, if you want to stop by the house and refresh yourself the doors are all unlocked.”

“I just might do that.”

“See you later, Paul!”

“Tell Nate I said hello for me.”

As I hung up the phone, Manny made his way back into the room with a folder ripe with papers. After 30 minutes of randomly signing papers and having different faces from the dealership smile in my face I walked outside to see my new ride. Even under the artificial light of the valet lane, the beautiful, deep, brown paint woke up all of my senses. Manny handed me the keys and with a strong handshake and a nod I left. I hopped in the Targa and with a light flick of my left wrist I brought it to life. I set my GPS to Driftwood Rd and set off for Key West. 

It was bright and warm as I made my way down the Dixie Highway. The view of the sky through the glass roof was way too beautiful for the somber mood of the day. After paying the toll on the Reagan Turnpike I couldn’t keep my mind from racing to the most morbid thoughts Before I could sink too far into my thoughts I remembered that I needed to get in touch with in Tony. I dialed up his number one more time and a male answered in a stern voice:

“Hello.”

“Who is this?”

“Detective Comford from Homestead PD.”

“What the hell is going on?”

“You know Tony Wegmann?”

“Yeah he’s my best friend.”

“When was the last time you spoke to him?”

“On the phone last night. Please tell me what is going on!”

“Calm down sir, I don’t know a good way to say this but Tony was murdered this morning. Do you know what he was up to last night?”

“No.”

“Okay, if you know anyone with information as to how this happened please contact us.”

 “Will do.”

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you.”

As the call ended I pushed the accelerator to the floor. Dani had went too far, and I needed to stop her before she took out anybody else. I focused on the journey ahead as the everglades sped by outside the window. Traffic was light as hustled around the few cars that got in my way. The afternoon sun beamed down on my head and the traffic slowed as I passed Boca Chica. I pulled onto the causeway to Raccoon Key and stopped the car. I really didn’t know what I planned on accomplishing. I reminded myself of the conversation I had with Erin before she left for Charlotte. I wasn’t here to do anything, just stop the killing. After sitting for a few minutes gathering myself, I drove on. The Porsche whirred smoothly down the street and swung into the front courtyard with a quick flick of the steering wheel. 

I made my way out of the car and spied Dani’s Tiburon sitting across from the Targa. I grabbed one of the guns from the shoulder holster and quickly checked the clip and walked up to the front steps. The front door clicked open as I made my way through the house with my gun pointed around each corner. As I made my way further back, I could feel the warm ocean breeze wafting through the open back door. I walked out onto the rear porch, and saw an obviously distraught Dani facing me on the jetty. She was holding a pistol in her hand, the barrel pointed at the ground. I gingerly tip-toed down the steps towards her. As soon as my toes touched the last step she screamed:

“Stay there!”

“What the fuck are you doing, Dani! You didn’t have to do this shit!”

“No Paul, you did this! You did all of this!”

“Bitch, I wasn’t the only person lying all this time!” 

“I did this because of you! You made me feel things but never made me whole.”

“Dani! This was never supposed to be this fucked up! I was clear with you the entire time.”

Dani began an intense, wailing cry. I walked down the remaining step and she glanced up at me through the tears. The only thing I could hear in that moment was the percussive clap of the gunshot. I looked down for a bloody hole but couldn’t see it. Her body dropped to the ground as soon as I looked up. 

This was the fruit from the tree I grew. Dani lay in a pool of her own blood because I didn’t want hurt anyone. Taylor was gone and my best friend just got scraped from his living room floor, I guess I didn’t get hurt. I holstered my gun, dialed the police, staggered back to the stairs and sat. I remained there as the sun set answering the detectives questions. I finally dragged my way back through the house and sat on the fender of the Targa. I dialed Erin and she answered in an excited tone:

“Paul! I was so worried about you!”

“I can't help you.”

“What?”

“I don't need to be around you. I'm bad for you and everyone else around me.”

“Paul, you made a mista-”

“Don't be there when I get back.”