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The Black Butterflies: Close call

The Black Butterflies: Chapter five

December 14th, 1992

 I stayed at the house alone. I could not call it home. Not that I was uncomfortable at all here, but it did not feel right for me to be attached to something that was not mine to get attached to, not my right to really belong in. My place here was temporary and it made no sense to get accustomed to it. Soon I would be gone and I could give the people who lived here their home back. I was sad that the walls themselves might still be covered with some of my memories, but that I could not avoid.

The others went to the funeral service of Greg Anderson. I would watch it on the news and then again see it in the newspapers. I had asked that my pretend death not be followed by a pretend funeral and certainly not on the day that Anderson was to be buried. That would be wrong and I would not agree to sully his name or final send off in anyway.

I had also seen pictures of our supposed demise on the front of the papers the following day. The headlines read: Solider Runs Amok!!

I hated to think what Captain Wren was feeling over this whole mess. I was supposed to meet him tomorrow and offer my condolences.

The Friday before, was filled with more excitement than the day before. Patrick had gotten both the AG and the Judge detained but he could not hold them without any evidence. The same was true of the other officer, Franklin Ward, who was brought in. They were released after extensive questioning in the judge’s own chambers by Cassius. They all claimed to know nothing.

The bombings had indeed killed seven and left four more seriously injured. All were members of Patrick’s SWAT team.

Officer Dale Scott was not seen since and neither was Peter Nurse. At least on the latter we knew why no one would hear from him, but Dale Scott must have been tipped off.

Photo: The Black Butterflies.
Photo: The Black Butterflies.

The drama grew even more, when the pick up for the balance of money was set-up. Patrick had personally set up the operation opposite the Central Bank Towers on the Promenade for 5:30pm.

The guy thought to be Eric/Scarface came on time with one other person in a green van. The money was placed in four black bags. As soon as Officer Brad Brebnor appeared Eric/Scarface must have seen something was wrong. Brad was pale and looked un-easy.

The SWAT team never gave the men time to think and within seconds more than fifty officers had them surrounded.

Eric/Scarface turned out to be a notorious drug-lord and leader of a gang in East Trinidad. He was originally from Puerto Rico and came to Trinidad about four years earlier and started his illegal activities then. His real name was Antonio Mendez and the alias “Eric” or “Scarface” were the names he used occasionally.

The other person arrested with him was James Salvary. A young 19 year old, reported to be a ruthless member of Antonio ‘Scarface’ Mendez gang, called The Vikings.

The two had been in police custody since Friday and had refused to talk. Patrick calmly stated that they would talk eventually. In the end they always do.

I had done nothing for the whole weekend. Just started reading all the war books Patrick had collected over time. I slept in between and I wrote a little, starting timidly on some of the issues that had developed with the case and me so far. I had not intended to make a diary of it, but the more I wrote, or recorded, the better I felt.

It made sense I thought then to continue writing my weekly bit, even though I was supposed to be dead. I had missed the papers piece on me and Arlene said it was just a few lines anyway. She had promised to get it for me, but I had not spoken to her since that night.

Patrick had said that she had a conference to attend in Barbados as she was representing Trinidad in a Maritime Law Amendment with that country. She had left since Saturday and was expected to return on Monday in time for Anderson’s funeral.

I stayed home, waiting for something to develop. There was nothing really that I could do anyway. I doubted that I could call Agent Jayson from under whichever bush he was hiding, to entertain me with a game of cards or scrabble.

The weekend itself had left me a little rested physically, but mentally I was still a mess and I was scared to be in the house alone even though I would never admit that.

I kept writing and the study next to my bedroom slowly became like an office to me. I would even eat in there and the hours of me being in the house alone stretched. I was also vaguely aware that Cassius had something going on in his life, other than his work.

He and Patrick were discussing it once when I walked in on them, but they had hastily changed the topic. What I knew for sure was that this week Cassius had to attend to some more business in London. That meant the week ahead would be another long boring one.

I started to try and put a time frame to all that was going on and to pin someone down to committing a date to me. This could not go on forever. No matter how long the mice ran the cat eventually got him anyway. To me we were indeed rats in a huge trap. Every day that we lived was just one more day closer to our last.

We needed a real plan with time and could not continue waiting for something to happen. Tonight I would get them to at least give me some hope that this would not last more than a few months, but maybe a few weeks.

The phone rang then and I jumped. I waited for the ringing to continue a second time.

I had never answered the phone before, and was not sure if I should now. After all I was supposed to be dead and answering the phone is not supposed to be one of the things that the dead can do. I listened as it rang for a third time and slowly lifted the receiver. Holding it to my ear, I said nothing at first.

“Hello?” the voice on the other end said in a half whisper. It sounded like Arlene.

“Arlene?” I asked.

“Daniels, thank God someone is home, I thought I missed you all.”

“What’s wrong?”

There was something wrong and my heart started racing in anticipation of the possible bad news.

“Where are my dad and Cassius?”

“At the funeral where you were suppose to be. Where are you?”

“I am on the flight home, I got delayed. I am on my cell phone in the washroom. I am being followed. You need to get my dad to meet me at the airport. Tell him that he needs to hurry, I will be home in less than an hour.”

“What if I can’t get him? At the funeral service his phone would most certainly be off.”

“Listen, in the study the last drawer has a gun. You need…”

Suddenly the phone went dead. I hung up and remained staring at it, willing it to ring again.

The confidence that Arlene had shown during the time that I knew her was gone. Today on the other line was the little girl and she was scared. I had no way of knowing then, that she was this way because she had looked into the eyes of her would be killers.

 

I left the house within twenty minutes, taking Arlene’s Audi A4. I had with me a racing heart and a loaded 9mm gun. A bad combination I knew but I had little choice.

I made the call to Patrick and as expected his phone was switched off. I left a message asking him to meet both Arlene and I at the airport within the hour. In my heart I sensed that message to be useless. He would not check his phone until after the service and if I waited it would be too late.

The car was well tinted and for that I was grateful. I had still borrowed a cap in any event and hoped that I could go unnoticed in a sea of bustling travelers.

The drive to the airport would take thirty-five minutes, which would give me enough time to at least park before Arlene’s flight got in. I would rather have Patrick or Cassius with me, but they were another fifty minutes away in the opposite direction.

I had no plan in my mind about what to do when I got to the airport and I certainly did not know what to expect. All I knew was that it was up to me to do something.

No heroics just meet Arlene and then drive to the cemetery and meet her father. I was scared and things felt no better when I pulled into the airport car park. The clock on the dashboard read 4:36pm. It was now fifty-six minutes since I had spoken to Arlene. I secured the car double checked the gun and got out.

As I headed to the terminal building, my head kept low I played with the most haunting prospect ahead: The possibility of having to shoot at someone. I knew how guns worked and I had even held a couple a few times growing up, but to point a gun at someone and shoot was another thing totally.

My thoughts were interrupted by a voice on the intercom announcing the arrival of Flight 490 from Barbados. I hurried to the arrival gate, my hands in my jacket pockets to hide the gun that it held, and to mask the fact that I was trembling.

The airport was a buzz of activity. This was the pre-Christmas season and flights would be coming and going non-stop for the next few weeks. Children were running around, adults were making their awkward goodbyes, families and lovers making their joyous hellos.

I realized then that the whole place was filled with people on their own beat. As it stood the only flight that mattered was the one you or someone who you loved were on, and the only people who mattered were the same too: the ones you knew going or the ones who you knew coming in.

Photo: People mingle at the Piarco International Airport.
Photo: People mingle at the Piarco International Airport.

I calmed down a little then, trying to just blend in, to be one more person, waiting on someone. I gazed up at the monitors which confirmed that the flight had indeed arrived.

I walked to the gate and started thinking about a good place to stand. I decided to wait by a bank of phones on the left and peered over a couple heads as the steady flow of people streamed in. Taxi drivers on hand tried to get the attention of the ones that looked lost, while I noticed a few cards displaying names being held aloft.

Hugs and kisses flowed around the terminal, seemingly contagious. I kept my head on the gate and felt the gun warming in my hands. I can do this, I thought calmly.

I guessed that the crowd at present was about two hundred plus, and even more would be in the shops and banks that littered the corridors. They would try to take her at the car park, I thought. I looked around and noticed that there were police and security present. Not that all police officers could be trusted, but that was a gamble that would have to be taken.

I saw her, before she saw me. She was in no hurry like the other passengers. In fact she looked like someone who was forced to return home and was not the least bit happy about it. She gazed around a little, probably thinking that no one had made it to her in time.

She looked beautiful yes but scared, I could tell, because it was a look that I had never seen on her face before.

Even before my brain registered what was going on I started walking towards her. She did not look back and I could not put faces to her followers. I kept walking to her avoiding a few people still peering at the gate waiting. I was two steps away when she saw me.

I would like to believe that what I saw on her face was relief, just that and nothing else, as she smiled and walked to me.

We hugged and remained like that for a long time, surrounded by other people but still alone in our world.

“They are behind us, green shirts on the right.” Arlene whispered into my neck.

I looked down at her and smiled. For a brief second I allowed my gaze to swing right but I only saw one man in green. We turned then and started walking toward the car park.

In my heart I half expected to be gunned down in the middle of the terminal. These men had shown little to no respect for other lives in the past and I did not expect any change in their thinking at this point.

The shots never came and as we walked confidently to the car I had actually started hoping that the security presence and the countless people around would deter them.

Again I was wrong.

 

We did get as far as the car. Just then in almost a split second they appeared. We actually heard them before we saw them.

Someone called out to us from behind: “Hey excuse me.”

Even without looking we knew. This was no “can you tell me the time” kind of call.

I saw Arlene tensed and I was grateful that I had at least un-locked the car. She was already getting in the driver side. I felt the gun in my hand and held it tighter. Like before, I acted so that my fear would not betray me. I had the gun out as I turned around.

What happened next could not have exceeded thirty seconds. I came face to face with one of the men in green. I still did not notice anyone else around, but the car park was filled with cars at this time.

When he saw the gun in my hand the shock registered on his face. I never thought about it. I saw him reaching behind his back and in a heartbeat I raised the gun clicked off the safety and fired three times in his direction.

I remember hearing screams, but I was unable to associate them with anyone in particular. It was then that I heard two more shots. I spun around and crouched behind the car.

I was also aware that people were running from the car park area and I could see that some security guards were approaching. This all appeared dream-like, almost in slow motion, but with the sound and color amplified.

I saw the other guy then. He was coming from behind a blue sedan and his gun was already drawn. I took aim at him and fired. I missed and I heard a wind screen shatter.

An alarm went off immediately. I swore because I had missed a perfect shot. The man was not aware of me at that stage and was shooting at Arlene. I stood up then and he turned to me. Before he could take aim, I heard four more shots.

It took me a moment to realize that he was hit, but not by me. The gun was still in my hand but I had not fired. I looked over and saw Arlene sweating and breathing heavily. She had a gun in her hand and I assumed that she had done a better job than I had. I hurried over to her and froze. Blood was all over.

“I am hit…” she managed and collapsed in my arms. I started to lay her down on the parking lot, my heart beating out of control now. “Go Daniels…I will be alright.”

“Are you crazy?” My voice quavered. Tears filled my eyes then and breathing became almost impossible. “Go, please…go.” I mumbled a refusal.

“Daniels you need to get out of here.” Another voice said and I spun around. Agent Jayson Holder was standing behind us, gun drawn and a serious look on his face as he surveyed the parking lot.

“I’ll stay with her.” He said and I nodded, getting the strange out of body sensation of looking down on myself. “Just get going okay and be careful.”

The lot was getting filled with on lookers. I was sure that security was closer now. I got up and took another look at her on the ground, her blood already seeping into the asphalt. I got in behind the wheel and started the car. I looked down at her and she nodded again. As I drove off she closed her eyes.

All that I could manage to keep repeating was: “What have I done?”

I kept saying it over and over. The gun was on my lap and I was covered with her blood. My hands were sticky and even though the AC was on the maximum level, I was sweating profusely. I sped out of the car-park and took to the highway.

After ten minutes I slowed down and concluded that I was not being followed. Suddenly a phone started ringing and I almost ran off the road. On the passenger seat was Arlene’s bag, half open. I noticed that the glove compartment was open too. That was probably where she got her gun.

I slowed and picked up the phone.

It lit up the name “Daddy” with three hearts blinking under them. I pulled to the shoulder and answered.

Editor’s Note: Wired868 has been authorised to publish excerpts from Kirk A Inniss’ maiden novel, The Black Butterflies for readers. Click HERE to read from Chapter One, Part One.

About Kirk A Inniss

Kirk A Inniss
Kirk .A. Inniss is a Trinidad-born, New York-based author of The Black Butterflies and Lessons for My Children. Sometimes he works with the Writers and Poets Union, to write for his supper. He absolutely refuses to sing though.

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