Houdini’s Box

Part 8

By: Girl Bard


Please see Part 1 for disclaimer.

Many thanks to everyone who mailed me feedback! Keep it coming!





Journal Entry:

June 27, 2000


It's raining again. The steady pounding of water on the windows almost lulls me to sleep.


Every time my head begins to droop and my eyes flicker shut, I jerk my head awake again, wondering if Jaden is home yet. So I decided to write, to keep myself awake.

It's been almost two hours since I woke, and she's still not here. Who knows when she even left. Right after I fell asleep? Or did she wait, to make sure I wouldn't wake up to catch her.

To catch her doing what? That is the question.

Is she seeing someone else? I doubt that Jaden would do that to me. But why else would she leave in the middle of the night and where would she go? She was exhausted last night when she came home. I didn't think she'd have the strength to do much of anything.

But she constantly amazes me. Sometimes she does the last thing I expect her to do.

No, I take that back. She always does the last thing I expect her to do.

And I know that I don't have any hold over her, she isn't committed to me, or our relationship. We never said that we were monogamous. But sneaking out in the middle of the night? Scaring me half to death when I wake up because she is gone?

Can't she just use the "I have to work late tonight" line and have her affair then?

Or is she doing that too? Did she really have to work yesterday? Or the week before that? Or is it all a lie?

The picture on the mantle beckons me again. I stare into the stranger's dark eyes, and from across the room I swear he's laughing at me.

Jaden's told me who the people are in all the other pictures. Except him. She conveniently forgot to tell me about the dark-haired man who has his arm wrapped so possessively around her.

Is that her lover? Is that who she is having an affair with? I had guess I assumed that Jaden was gay; but she’s never mentioned past lovers, male or female.

I guess I shouldn't assume anything with Jaden. And it's not like we've actually sat and spoken about anything deep or meaningful since I've been here.

But I know that I can't do this. I can’t let her lie to me and keep things from me. My entire life I've been surrounded by people who did everything they could to keep problems hidden away. My family never talked about anything that was bothering us, just kept denying and denying and pushing our problems away until we can't take it anymore.

I'm not going to start a relationship off the same way. I won't do it.

I put down my pen and rub my eyes that are raw and red from crying. The apartment seems so scary to me tonight, and I know it's just because I awoke from such an awful dream to an empty, dark apartment, and I don't know where Jaden is. But for the last two hours I've sat here, trying to calm my nervous self down by writing.

It's always been my saving Grace, so to speak. No matter how awful things were at home, or how stifled I felt, I could always pick up my pen and write down everything circulating through my head.

Tonight it's not helping. I'm too worried and scared to concentrate on anything else but how worried and scared I am.

I stand up, heading over to the window that overlooks the ocean far below. The rain seems to be settling it down, no longer does it proudly carry the ferocious whitecaps of the afternoon. The downpour doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon and no matter how frustrated with Jaden that I am, I hope she's at least somewhere dry.

I lean back against the fireplace, the cool stone sending shivers through my body. I stare at the dark water, lit only by the faint moonlight.

I hope she's safe.

And I hope that she will come back to me.



Dressing quietly, I avoid taking any extra time, in fear of waking Grace. It wasn't easy to slip out of bed; she was wrapped around me so tightly that I had to ease my way out in stages. Stage one, somehow untangle her small arms from around my waist and remove her hand from my breast. Stage two included rolling over quickly enough to evade her persistent grasp yet slow enough as to not rouse her.

I slip on my boots, remembering the rainy weather of before and softly walk to the kitchen. I put on my rain jacket, turning it inside out to hide the yellow Boston PD logo on the back. I zip it and pull on my black gloves.

Ever so carefully, I remove my car keys from the counter, taking great care to not have them jingle. That adorable mutt of Grace's can hear the keys from a mile away and the last thing I need is for her to wake Grace.

I leave the apartment, closing the slightly squeaky door behind me and locking it. I have to remember to get some WD-40 for that.

I glace around in the dark hallway, glad for the comforting presence of my gun strapped to my back. I check to make sure I have extra ammunition in the zippered pocket of my jacket.

You never can be too careful. Especially when hunting Ronnie. He's the worst kind of prey, because he is both psychotic and evil. Not a good combination.

On my way home from the station tonight I swore I was being followed. I worked all day on the street, disguised to visit some of the worse sections in town looking for information on Ronnie. I didn't find anything, not that I expected too. Aron's strong point is covering his tracks, which doesn't explain for his recent suspected crimes. He's never been that sloppy. Which means that subconsciously, he wants to get caught, or he's doing it for some very purposeful reason.

That's my guess.

I just wish that I had been on more alert driving home. It's not like me to be distracted, but after the fruitless day of finding no real leads, I was tired, wet, hungry, and wanted nothing more than to crawl into Grace's arms. When I got off the highway and made the short drive to my street, there was little other traffic. I pulled into the driveway and noticed a black Honda behind me, its windows tinted. My brain suddenly recalled that I had seen the same car when leaving the station.

I jumped out of my Explorer, prepared to draw my gun and the car took off around the corner. I ran through the back yard of the apartment in the rain, but couldn't see anything.

That was stupid of me. I should have been more careful. My carelessness got Jonah killed and I won't let that happen to Grace.

Taking Bean out was the perfect opportunity to scout the area. I didn't want Grace stepping outside, I didn't know if Aron or one of his flunkies was watching my residence. I sure as hell don't want them seeing Grace. Even if they think she's just another tenant in the building...I have to keep her safe.

When I took the dog out, I swore that I saw someone in the yard across the street, crouched in the bushes. I blinked, and after my eyes adjusted to the darkness and the rain, I realized that there was no one there.

That doesn't mean that I shouldn't be on my guard. I'm not taking any chances this time.

Reaching the front door of the apartment building, I glance outside through the window. There doesn't seem to be any strange cars parked on the street, but that doesn't mean anything.

I walk down the hall and slip quietly out the door into the back yard. I crouch down against the fence, growling to myself when my raincoat declares my presence. Could it be possible for some company to make a jacket that is quiet yet still protects from the rain? I strip the coat off and fling it back into the hall, leaving me clad in a black long-sleeved shirt which immediately absorbs every rain drop, leaving me soaked.


I continue my movement down the side of the fence, checking each area of the back yard. It's empty, and quiet, like it should be. Looking down to the beach below, I find it also empty, the gentle waves rushing it to sweep the sand clean.

I snort to myself, I sound like Grace. All poetic and crap.

As much as I rather be laying in bed with her now, with Aron and the memories that surround him far away, I can't say there isn't a part of me that loves doing this.

I deftly spring over the fence, landing gently on the other side in a somersault. I drop to my belly, feeling the damp earth soak through my clothing and coat my skin with mud. I tuck my pony-tailed hair into the back of my shirt and crawl the short distance to the driveway.

Seeing that it's clear, I crawl under my Explorer. I remove a tiny flashlight from my pocket and shine it into the guts of my car.

Nothing. I sigh in relief, knowing a favorite game of Aron's is to blow his enemies up in their cars. Not that I think he would do that to me, he would much rather watch me suffer.

But you can't be too careful. I turn off the flashlight, placing it between my teeth and crawl to Grace's car. Hers is much more difficult to crawl under, but I manage, squeezing my tall body under enough to turn on the flashlight. Hers looks clear too.

Now what? I ask myself, not knowing what else I can do. I want to go back inside, shower all of this grimy mud off of me, climb into my warm bed with my warm girlfriend and feel the smoothness of her body.

My gut is ordering me to stay out here, and so I listen. Acting purely on instinct, I continue to crawl to the front of the apartment building, finding a convenient niche between the side of Grace's car and the building itself. Here I'm protected on both sides as well as have a view of both front and back yards.

I take on patrol mode, grimacing as I take some of the sodden mud from the ground and coat my face and neck with it. I'm wearing all black, the sky is black, why should my big white face stick out like a beacon in the night? I know it's pointless, that if Aron of one of his guys are already here, they've probably already seen me, but it makes me feel better.

I wait in a crouch, balancing my weight evenly on both feet. From this position I can do just about anything, and years of hard work and discipline has allowed me to stay like this for quite awhile.

"Come on." I whisper. "I'm ready for you."


Nothing has happened. I've been here since a little before midnight, and it's after 2am now. 2:29am, to be exact, as I check my watch.

Suddenly a flicker of movement catches my eye. It was across the street, but I swear that I just saw something. I check behind me, and when I see it's clear I train my eyes to where I saw the movement.

Squinting slightly, my ears do their job, tuning into the most obscure of noises. Someone is walking, across the street. The drenched earth and even tempo of raindrops makes it difficult for me to conclude where, but I know it's not someone just out taking a walk.

Every step is deliberate; the length of time between them leads me to assume it's someone doing exactly what I am.

I check my gun and I stand, flattening myself against the side of the apartment. My alert eyes detect movement and my ears tell me that the person is now crossing the street, their feet quietly hitting the pavement.

So, the fucker wants to play now? I'll play. I smile, silently removing my gun and click the safety off in tempo with the person's footsteps. It blends right in with the sound and is barely detectable to my ears. I glance around the corner again, seeing the person standing in the front yard, raising something towards the building. I squint my eyes again, trying to make out what is in his hand.

This is obviously not a well-schooled criminal. Besides the fact that he is completely standing out in the open, he's dressed entirely in black with a ski mask on. I don't think he could look more like he's doing something illegal if he tried. If anyone would happen to look out their window at this moment, they would see this dumbass standing in the middle of a yard, and call the cops.

He has no weapons that I can see, but I draw my weapon and prepare anyway. If what he's pointing at the building is a gun, I'll have him exactly where I want him.

Suddenly, my bedroom light turns on. What the fuck? It must be both of our thoughts because he puts his arm down and runs like hell down the street. I contemplate giving chase, there is nothing I'd like to do more than to take that dumbass down and beat the information out of him, but that wouldn't be law abiding or productive because I will put myself out in the open and I don't think that's a good idea if there are more where he came from.

I look above me, seeing now every light in the entire apartment come on. My watch tells me that it's 2:39am. Why is Grace awake?
Jesus Christ, she's going to be pissed at me. I just hope she's okay. I know no one could be inside the apartment, I would have heard.

She must have woken up, found me gone and freaked out. My stomach clenches with the thought of her being scared and alone.

"I'm sorry." I tell her, my voice a whisper above the falling rain. "But I have to protect you right now."

I secure my weapon once again and resume my crouching position. I know it's a lot to ask, but I hope that Grace will at least one day be able to understand why I have to do this.

4:30am. The sun will be up in a few hours, and my precious veil of darkness will disappear, leaving me a tired, wet, and dirty cop with mud on her face.

I haven't seen or heard anyone in two hours. I think now that the ski mask-wearing guy was the only one here. But what was he doing? I don't think he had a gun, Aron is very picky about who he gives power too.

Most likely, the ski mask guy was someone that Aron sent just to let me know that he knows what I'm doing.

How does he know? He has to have someone on the inside. As much as I hate to imagine it, I'm sure that is the answer. I don't exactly hold a lot of the people I work with in high esteem, and Aron probably made him a deal he couldn't refuse.

So first thing tomorrow, the captain and I will have a talk and keep things more private. Maybe even leak some fake information out to see if Aron takes the bait.

First, back to the intruder. What was he raising to the window? It was definitely aimed to my apartment; meaning Aron knows where I live. And if I was being followed earlier, he now knows what I drive too.

That sucks. Well, I can always do damage control. Get a rental car, stop driving to work, and maybe get a motel room or something for a while.

I stand up, working the kinks out of my legs. I kind of much rather stay out here; the thought of walking into an apartment with a very unhappy Grace doesn't exactly make me excited.

I walk back through the yard, hopping the fence once again. I use my keys to let myself in, securely locking the door behind me and retrieve my rain jacket. I check the lock on the front door again, finding it tight and head up the stairs slowly.

Each step feels closer to my death. Each step fills me with more guilt. I need to be honest with Grace, but I don't want her to know everything because it will put her in danger.

And because I'm scared that once she knows who I am, she won't love me anymore.

I pause at my front door, my hands shaking as I turn the key in the lock. The door swings open, squealing again and I remind myself for the 2000th time to get WD-40. It's squeaked since I moved in. And every time I open the fucking door I remember that I forgot to remind myself to get WD-40.

I bring my eyes away from the squealing door and into Grace's shattered eyes. She's sitting on the kitchen counter, her arms crossed over her shivering form. Without a word, she hops down, walks to the spare bedroom and slams the door.


I take off my muddy boots and leave them to make a mess of my clean tiled floor. I take off my rain jacket, and hang it on the hook. I wash the mud off my face and undress, leaving my dirty clothes in a pile on the floor.

I head to the shower. I don't know how to fix this.


Part 9: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!

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