Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finding Her (Muse 8: "Dancing Around Men, Toward a Burlesque Destiny") Part 2

Continued from Muse 8 part 1

"You Ok Miss?" Her distress obvious to the driver.

"Yeh, yeh, fine..." she gasps, flushed and exhausted, her throat and chest burning, her heart pounding, her head wondering if she'd killed the bastard.

 "Just out of breath..." She gives him $50 from the rolled up cash, "Just take me as far away as this thing goes."

"To the airport?"

"If that's your last stop, yes."

She hears the wail of sirens in the distance and knows they wail for her. A slut, an idiot, an illegal alien and now a murderer.  She's glad she's killed him but this isn't Colombia. Someone will care, someone will try to find her. At best, she'll be deported and back into the clutches of Lopez. At worst, she'll be tried for murder. Fear doesn't cut it as she secrets the gun into the bag and wonders how she's going to smuggle it aboard a plane.

Her wits click in, even if she's terrified of what she's doing or where she's going. The airport is confusing but she takes deep breaths and heads for the ladies room. She's in luck. Showers. She needs to cleanse the sullied touch of her past from her body, and scrubs until her brown skin feels raw. She stands in front of the mirror, thankfully it's late and the place is quiet. She rummages through the rucksack, dons her jeans and Paris T-shirt and ties back her hair in a conservative ponytail. On the wall between two mirrors a post 9/11 warning and cargo rules in tiny print:

  • No Aerosols, sharp items, knives, swords, razorblades or Firearms in cabin luggage
  • Firearms and ammunition are accepted as checked baggage only and must be declared to an agent at check-in.
  • Firearms will only be accepted if unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided container such as a rifle case. TSA approved locks are accepted.
For once, she's grateful to Xavier. Her gift came wrapped in a hard leather case.
Rick's car is swerving from lane to lane. He's driving like a lunatic, fast as he can at midday in LA. He ignores the 'No Standing' sign outside LAPD HQ and lunges up the steps taking three at a time.
Silverman's there with the guy who found the backpack.

"Ah Mr Thompson, this is Mr Rodrigues. The gentleman who found the backpack.....and this..." He brandishes three photographs, "Is Miss Marique Jimenez!"

Thompson's already shaken the hand of the confused and scruffy Rodrigues. And lurches forward snatching the photos from Silverman's hands

"It's her...its the girl. It's the one I saw."

As if the scenario couldn't become more bizarre, a uniform escorts a woman in; well dressed, tall, refined. She smiles at Silverman.

"Hello Josh. Good to see you again. You have news?" She's accented but her English is perfect and has an American twang.

Josh explains that they're getting close. The bag, the psychic, the homeless man and the Iranian Aunt form an incongruous posse in search of a woman who has no idea they exist.

"We think she's somewhere in Van Nuys." Silverman declares, "Probably laying low, looks like she had a little trouble in Miami, came as far west as she could and decided to get lost here. But now we have the pictures, the insight of Mr Thompson, the testimony of Mr Rodrigues, we're on her tail again."

Tala sits and tears well in her eyes. Clearly relieved that there's at least a sign of life.  Rick is excited, he's fantasised over this woman long enough and catches a glimpse of his poorly shaven reflection in the window.

"Right." Silverman claps his hands with a smack. "Let's get on it."

She'd forgotten about the tiny roll of money in the bottom of her backpack. Andrew had taken most of it as back payment for her room and board. Still, there was enough to find a share room with a Hispanic family in downtown Van Nuys and to buy some retro clothes. Maria Alvarez, the 'lady of the house' had kindly cut her hair, now shoulder length and curling around her face.  She'd even found her a job cleaning house. 

One evening the girl had told her story and Maria had cried for her. "No girl should lose her mother in such a way. No girl should have no parents." Maria hugged her hard and for the first time in a long time, despite feeling safe, the desperation of her disappointment caused Marique to sob. Free but desperate, she had reached rock bottom. Compromised her principals, been betrayed, shot a man, travelled across the country to become what? A cleaning lady? A boarder with a family that is not her own? An illegal alien in a country that does not want her.
Tala has also been on the case. It took time and connections but she's a bright woman with good connections. She has a name, a photograph and the legal nouse to work the system. Her wealth and knowledge enables her to acquire the girl's birth certificate and to enlist the support of an immigration lawyer. All is prepared and ready for when they find Marique.And she's sure, that soon, they will.

As he returns to his apartment, Rick realises that he has little more to offer. The contents of the backpack have given up their secrets and he has nothing recent to help locate Marique short of tramping the streets of an LA suburb in the hope there's a trace of her. The likelihood of that happening hitting him like a hammer as impossible, a proverbial needle in a hay stack. As he casts eyes down, key penetrating the lock, he hears the footfall of someone behind him and glances sideways to catch a glimpse of brown calves and flat shoes.As his eyes climb from the shapely ankles to the familiar pink uniform worn by the cleaners in his building, his jaw drops. She smiles, "Good afternoon Senor" and sashays past him, unlocking another door to the apartment across the hall.

"Excuse me..." he's turned and dropped his keys, incredulous with his luck. "Do I know you?"

A pang of fear rises through her core. Who is he? Does he know her? A punter from the club? A face from her past that she doesn't remember? Her flight response kicks in.

"No Senor, I don't believe we've met."

"Is your name Marique?" She drops the plastic container and cleaning accoutrements fall carelessly onto the polished linoleum floor as she turns to run.  He grabs her arm.

"No wait. I don't want to hurt you. I'm here to help."

Her struggling causes him to be firmer than he should as he pushes her back against the wall, She says nothing, afraid she might attract further unwanted attention but she's like a deer facing the headlights and terrified he might be in a position to expose her. 

"Marique, It's OK.My name's Rick. I live across the hall but...I've been looking for you. Others have been looking for you. I have a gift, I know what you've been through. I know all about you and there are people you need to meet. Come in with me, I'll make you coffee and explain everything."

Despite her trust in strangers being shattered, she's cornered and in no position to refuse. He releases his grip as the vibrations of her life course through every vein.She's as beautiful as he'd supposed, vulnerable yet strong. She agrees and picks up the spray bottles, their leaking fluid making small puddles on the floor and follows him into his apartment. Her gasp is audible when she sees her backpack splayed across his coffee table.

Muse 1 A Legacy of Smoke and Shadow


  1. did not expect that...this read a bit more more like a synopsis than a story, but you're fitting it all in toward a successful conclusion

  2. What??? That's a tad... convenient.

  3. On to part 9; I think I see where this is going and how it will come together.