Buried in garbage, McIver waited for sirens to fade before emerging from the dumpster. Move an inch too soon and he’d wear steel bracelets and head back to federal prison. He took a chance anyway and repositioned his body once more before settling on the balls of his feet. The stench of rotten meat forced him to breathe through his mouth. Instead of air, he drew in a soggy leaf and a stale crouton. He wanted to gag, but couldn’t.
To stay focused, he wondered who had financed his escape and contracted him for the kidnapping. And why? Extortion? McIver didn’t think so. This man had deep pockets—paying guards, inmates, vendors, and countless others. McIver stopped fidgeting with the rancid food in his mouth and gaped into darkness. The amount of power and control it took for this individual to execute McIver’s escape suggested he also knew his way around the political arena. With his control, he made the tower guards look the other way. With his power, he supplied McIver with an empty van and an unmanned front gate. With his exactitude, he provided the right–sized clothing, intricate details that piqued McIver’s curiosity.
He wiped his mouth with his forearm slow and easy as it became clear this man had risked a great deal for revenge. McIver poked at something crawling in his ear then whispered, “If you’re not careful, revenge has a way of pulling you off script. Now, if it were me,” he mumbled, hunching his shoulders, “I’d just shoot her and be done with it. But then again . . . .” He pulled at his prison uniform.
Thoughts of going back to prison stripped McIver of his concern with the man. He shrugged. Who cares? He’d rather red fish than give another thought to who had orchestrated this. He wanted a hot shower; a close shave; a woman to cuddle next to. But each time sirens hushed or shuffling feet changed directions he fixated on the same question. Who had set these wheels in motion? If he knew her name, this unsuspecting housewife, maybe he could unravel the motive. With only an address and the words “Take her to your favorite place. You know where,” scribbled on a note, McIver had little to go on. During breakfast, someone had placed the note inside a Ziploc bag and weighed it down with a glob of oatmeal. No doubt someone other than those in the prison library knew of his fishing fetish, and where─his father’s cabin on the San Juan Islands.
The A-framed structure conjured many memories, especially red fishing. On impulse, he pressed his fist against his chest to slow his racing heartbeat. Flea-infested dogs had nothing on his itch to fish. He closed his eyes and put his hands together, raising them above his left shoulder, pumping them as if testing for a bite at the end of his line. McIver lowered his hands and fingered slime in mock attempts to bait a hook and cast his line again. He licked his lips, grimacing at the taste of rotten eggs, while thoughts of hot red fish swirled against his palate. Sour milk vapors made their way down his throat. McIver squeezed his esophagus then rubbed his hands over his stubble face, smearing slime on his face like a spider’s web.
“I heard it, too, Sam. Let’s see what we got here,” an officer said.
Crap! With the image of prison bars pressing against him, McIver sat still. He thought of heavy morning fogs and late evening sunsets; heard water slapping against his boat and the clickclickclicking of his reel. Sweet sounds of his fishing line whipping through the air and his bait flopping on the water calmed him. The top of the dumpster banged against the wall and caromed once or twice. McIver stiffened and grit his teeth.
A police officer anchored himself on the brackets, dug through the trash with his right hand and shined a flashlight with his left. Refulgent beams danced over McIver’s head, while rodents moved about and maggots fed on spoiled food and snaked along the walls of the dumpster. Looking puzzled, the officer dug through the trash again, then again. After he pushed away from the metal container, he held the dog by its collar, silenced him, and waited. At last, radio chatter disrupted the stillness. Once loose, the dog pawed the dumpster then scoured through the alley, yelping in distress.
“It’s alright, Sam. I know he’s close. Come on boy!” the officer said.
With an eerie silence lurking through the alley, McIver surfaced. He removed his uniform, wiped his face with it then tossed it in the dumpster. Underneath, he wore blue jeans and a dark blue polo shirt. The day before, rolled in newspaper, fastened with string, someone had placed the clothes under his mattress, along with a key. He crossed the alley and rubbed his hands on a narrow patch of grass, before sucking in his gut and adjusting his belt. Unable to fight the fumes soaked through his clothes, he spewed on the cement then wiped his bitter-tasting mouth on his sleeve. After running his fingers through his thinning hair, he stretched and squared his shoulders. He cleared his throat and smiled.
As the evening sun winked between the trees, he put his hands in his pocket and toyed with a crisp piece of paper inside. McIver pushed his head back and breathed a sigh of relief then pulled the paper out. He grinned.
“You thought of everything, my friend,” his admiration growing in moderate degrees. Then he paused and rested his joy on the hem of an undisputed truth. All this came at a price. As he looked down both ends of the alley, it seemed to him, one end represented law enforcement. The other, a man pushing him in directions he wasn’t sure he wanted to go. He looked at the dumpster behind him and weighed his options. When sirens blared nearby, his heart sped up and his clammy hands shook. He crouched down and peered around the funky container and noticed the police cars heading south of the city. A chopper followed. McIver stood, bent over then anchored his hands to his knees. For better or worse, he knew his next decision would alter his life. He pressed his back against the building until he caught his breath. Once relaxed, he slid the sweaty five hundred dollar bill back into one pocket then felt for the key in the other. Satisfied, he removed debris from his shoes and walked toward freedom George Jefferson style.
Come morning, he only hoped kidnapping the woman proved as easy as his escape. He had fish to catch.