Authors: L. E. Green
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery, #Retail, #Science Fiction, #Suspense, #Thriller
The night was warm with a slight chilling breeze squeezing through the buildings, imposing upon the Boston horizon of dark blue and black. Dark slithering clouds wisped about the night sky, moving quickly from a violent wind, preceding a rain storm destined to batter down upon the city. The wind smelled like ice; the city lights blinded the stars, and only the moon and a few bright planets were in sight. Built in 1964, the 52–floor Prudential Tower sat in the background declaring its presence, the city’s most iconic monument. A few horns beeped here and there as car tires of the passing vehicles slapped the road and bumped against the destructive potholes. Yet traffic moved smoothly courtesy of the completion of the infamous Big Dig. Finally, the dreadful Big Dig had subsided after a solid 25 years of construction but not without being $12 billion over budget, not without four related deaths and or countless injuries, lawsuits and political corruption scandals. Out–of–towners flowed into the city for the night’s excitement, ready to take part in the adventurous Boston nightlife.
Two miles away, a woman stood on the ledge of another skyscraper. No one noticed her nor cared, but she was there watching the world hustle and bustle beneath the tips of her toes. From afar, she almost looked like Antony Gormley’s Naked Man statues of New York City. Many of these statues were placed on the ledges of high buildings. Panicked citizens had called 911 believing they were actually suicidal maniacs ready to plummet to the pavement. Farther away, she looked like an antenna fading into the black of the sky. She could see the Prudential Tower light up in green LED lights, GO CELTS! It blinked G–O–C–E–L–T–S! Each letter appeared exactly one second after the other. Then all together, GO CELTS blinked three times with a three second pause between each cycle. A few lights were out in the G and T letters and almost read CO CELIS! Those lights had been out since the start of the season and hadn’t been fixed.
The Boston Celtics were playing against the New York Knicks. Most of the police force lurked around the TD Garden Center to intimidate the drunken patrons into compliance and order. The last game between the two rivals had resulted in a murder, a rape and a bonfire in the parking lot. The police walked to and fro, pacing about as they swung around their batons. They checked their radios, keeping side chatting brief as they maintained watch, anxiously waiting for the guaranteed commotion which would ensue at the final buzzer. Win or lose, there would be a riot. Win or lose, there would be pepper spray in the air. The police prepared their gas masks. The infamous Boston/New York team rivalry was at the center of everyone’s minds tonight. There was no time to focus on a random, ledge–walking psycho with a bad attitude and mysterious purpose.
This mysterious woman, Abigail was a peculiar, young lady. She was slightly annoyed by the missing lights and wondered how many fools would misread the electric banner. Abigail counted the blinking green LED light cycle at least five times before she remembered her initial focus. As she stood on the ledge she could feel the wind sweeping past her feet, almost with enough force to pick her up from the rubber of her black Gortex boots which she had borrowed from her friend and coworker, Roger. Her hair was black and shaped into a lazy style Mohawk where her bangs hung long over the front of her face. She had on dark eye makeup, to match her black Dickies cargos, a black top and a black oversized leather jacket, frayed at the edges and elbows. She stood on the ledge, thinking of where her mysterious life had taken her and what had led her to this moment. It was the moment she looked forward to yet regretted at the same time.
Abigail never told Roger most of the thoughts that went through her mind. She wanted to embrace who she was and what had happened to her but there was no time. Her fate was sealed at that very moment. Figuring out what was going on in her life and in her head was more complicated than a teenage girl realizing she has a crush on a boy she used to despise, who is also getting her period and figuring out how in the hell to use a tampon. She was on the verge of a mental crisis.
There she was, standing at the ledge, thinking of life’s mysteries that had created this kink in her path— her choices and decisions driven by her fears and uncontrollable desires, all of which changed the meaning of her existence. Everything around her— the people, the air, the texture of things — now seemed worthy of investigation. There was so much she didn’t understand. So many thoughts in her head were in turmoil: Love fighting with lust, confidence in war coupled with insecurity, and pain fighting with joy. Abigail was very unsure of herself. This moment was another reminder of how her body was not under her own control. Her conscience seemed to have declared mutiny against her flesh. She had lost control and wanted it back. Abigail looked down at the pavement. It called to her. From afar it looked like the soft black foam padding in a gun case. Only Abigail would make a connection like that.
Abigail brutally ripped the jacket from her body tossing it to the tar covered roof. She turned around, jogging away from the edge in a slow steady pace. Her heart was pounding so hard, she could hear it in her head and feel it in her chest. Her breathing was rhythmic and timed. She walked back about 50 feet from the edge. She turned and faced the edge again. She closed her flaming blue eyes and reopened them. She began to run toward the edge of the building. Fast, hard footsteps pounded against the concrete roof. Little puffs of dirt spewed out from under her feet, pushed out from under the rubber soles of her boots. Her last step was against the very edge of the building. It’s a 12 inch step but she took it gracefully without breaking a stride. This is where she committed to regain control. She was fearless. She jumped.
Dennis rushed to finish up a few phone calls and paperwork for a minor project he had worked on with PNC bank. He rushed through the office to the fax machine, placed a few papers in it and tapped the side of the machine, hoping it would operate faster.
“Come on!” he whispered impatiently. One by one, ten sheets of paper scanned through the machine. When they were done, he grabbed them. He then took the receipt and rushed back to his desk. His suit jacket was tossed around the back of his office chair. He looked at his phone, anticipating a call. The phone rang.
“You got it?” Dennis listened for an answer. “Good! We’ll catch up on Tuesday in the board room. Thanks.” It was 1:00 pm and Dennis was leaving for the day. He packed up his belongings and shut down his computer. He took the elevator down to the first floor, walked through the lobby and into the garage that could be entered and exited through a door attached to the lobby. When he arrived at his car, he saw Alan Jiang waiting in a truck, parked behind his own car.
“Hurry up Chump!” Alan yelled over the rumble of the engine.
“Let me get my bag.” Dennis grabbed a bag from the trunk of his car, locked the door, and tossed the bag into the back seat of Alan’s truck. He opened the front door of the truck and climbed in, closing the door behind him.
“Buckle up!” Jiang reminded him to secure his seat belt. They left the garage and jumped on the highway which wasn’t far from the office.
Alan Jiang and Dennis Matthews were traveling on Interstate 95 North in eastern Massachusetts, heading towards Alan’s cabin in Falmouth. They rode along the highway in a 2007 dark green, four–door Toyota Tundra. The truck had a dent in the rear driver side panel. Jiang wasn’t very good at driving in reverse or parallel parking. He had backed into a “No Parking” sign on Newbury Street a few weeks earlier. His only intention was to quickly pick up a gift for his wife from a boutique she repeatedly talked about. He was late coming home from work and needed an alibi. Showing up with a gift always smoothed things over.
“How far are we?” Dennis wondered.
“We have about 20 minutes left,” Alan seemed tired. His eyes were heavy after a long workweek. His voice was scratchy yet firm.
“Can you believe Charles?” Dennis reminisced about the meeting they had earlier that morning. Dennis, too, was tired from a long night of research. His eyes had dark circles. He kept blinking to refocus them. It had been a long time since he had seen the sun.
“Charles has no idea what he is doing and no clue what he is talking about. I have bailed him out so many times; but I think this time, I’m going to let him fall flat on his face.” Alan was clearly frustrated. A crease formed between his eyebrows and his nostrils flared.
Dennis agreed, “He didn’t even look at the packet. How could he ignore the numbers so easily?”
“He is too passionate about that company,” Jiang took his eyes off the road for a moment. “He believes too much in the idea and doesn’t give two shits about the numbers not adding up. He won’t get another dime from us.” Jiang swerved when he realized his truck was drifting into another lane.
Dennis wasn’t nervous at all. He continued saying, “And I’m trying to figure out how we will recover the funds we have already invested in that monstrosity of a company.” Dennis nibbled on his finger nails. “I’m hungry.” His stomach growled.
Alan’s crinkled angry face softened. He said, “We can stop for dinner as soon as we get to Falmouth, or I can also have dinner delivered to the house. It’s your call.”
“I heard about a place named Mackie’s.” Dennis was suddenly excited. “I hear they have really good seafood.”
“I’ll look it up.” Dennis picked up his iPhone and ran a search. He checked a few text messages and read an email. “It’s three miles from your cabin.”
Alan Jiang was the CEO at Chapel and Case Investment Company. He was 39 and considered an up and coming business mogul. He had lifted many companies out of the red with his creative consultation strategies, motivational speeches, and his sacred list of angel investors. He had quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder, rising faster than any other CEO in the area. Alan had graduated from Yale’s MBA program at the age of 34 and had been promoted to CEO of Chapel and Case two years ago after having worked there for only three years. He served on the Boston Minority CEO board whose major purpose was to recruit minority business professionals from the best higher education business programs in New England. The board also sought to mentor them on a monthly basis by checking in, providing support and employment as needed.
Alan had been married to Katherine Smith for two years. She worked at Carter Consulting firm located in downtown Boston. They had met during a lunch break at a hot dog stand on the Boston Common. They dated for three years before marrying. Katherine was a short, red–headed woman with a long, thin face. Some of her colleagues called her “The Kraken” behind her back. She was known to be extremely cold hearted and very business oriented. Whenever she walked into a room, someone would invariably whisper, “Release the Kraken!”
Katherine barely cracked a joke or smiled in the office place. She never meddled in Jiang’s affairs. She never gave him advice nor did she expect to take advice from him about her business affairs. “Let me fail and learn from my own mistakes,” she would say whenever she thought he was about to make a comment. She was extremely curt and tough at work, but at home she was very gentle and family oriented. She backed off when she knew her husband was having a macho moment. She could read him like a book. She knew when to step in and when to back away and let her softer, feminine instinct take over.
Katherine wasn’t much of a cook; she didn’t have much time to practice. She worked extremely hard for her employer but knew she would never become a partner there. She was also well aware of the comings and goings of Alan’s many mistresses. She never let them bother her because she figured it was love that brought them together, but her wit that sustained them. Her understanding of mergers, investments, and corporate takeovers set her strategy for their marriage. She had sworn to herself never to be the strong corporate woman who worked late everyday because she had no one to go home to at night.