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(NEW) The Hidden Crime - Chapter 7 - Street smarts.
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Joined: 05 May 2012
Posts: 367

Posted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:41 pm    Post subject: (NEW) The Hidden Crime - Chapter 7 - Street smarts.  

by Sagittaeri

The entire story (to date) in beautiful, readable HTML, courtesy of the wonderful Dropbox. Great for catching up, too. Link: The Hidden Crime

Chapter 7: Street smarts.

The nicely formatted version: In HTML

"Theresa, my beautiful daughter, loved life. She had her flaws, but she was a good person who deserved to be happy. I remember the time when she was six, we were at a departmental store, and I lost her. I was distracted by something---I don't even remember what now---but when I turned, she was gone. I only looked away for a few seconds. I was really, really scared, more than I've ever been in my entire life. Eventually, after a lot of hysterical panicking on my part---some of you might know that about me---I found her in a playroom. Somehow, she must have decided she was bored with the adults, and found her way there by herself. She was teaching a four year old boy how to build a castle out of Lego. And she...she..."

Mrs Lakewood, Terri's mother, stopped at that point and sniffed into her handkerchief. She gave herself a minute or two to compose herself before sharing more anecdotes about her daughter. It was a beautiful church, where we were at. I was never religious, but at that moment, I wished I believed in the afterlife. If I did, perhaps I would be consoled by the hope of one day reuniting with her.

The funeral service lasted for a few hours. There were so many people sobbing. Some of them didn't even really know Terri. But not me. I didn't cry that day. Or any day before that. Not even on the day she had died. Dan, my best friend, kept thinking I was going to break down at any moment. After all, he was the only one who knew about my simple plan to propose to her, finally, after three years of being together. The ring in my pocket was now just a reminder of how stupid I was for waiting so long. Tomorrow. I would return the ring to the jewellery store tomorrow.

Towards the end of the service, I needed air. So I left the church. That was when I first laid eyes on her murderer. Of course, I didn't know who he was at that time. I wasn't even a little bit suspicious. The man somehow appeared disheveled even when dressed in a neat black suit. He had a grim and distant look on his face, as he remained just outside the church, close enough to listen to the service, but not enough for the people inside to notice his presence. The woman next to him must have been his sister --- they had the same curly black hair. The three of us introduced ourselves awkwardly. Kyle Panopoulus. Two weeks later, he turned himself in.

I shrugged off the unpleasant memory of Terri's funeral. Having managed to look more suspicious than a kid caught with both hands in cookie jars, I needed to focus on the present more than ever. It was already 7pm, I noted, as I stepped out of the police station. The interview with the detective had somehow lasted for more than an hour and a half.

The engagement ring with the damning inscription was somewhere out there, and I couldn't let the detectives get their hands on it. Even if you're guilty? Since the detectives suspected it was in a pawnshop, that was where I needed to look first.

Only, if I attempt to go to these pawnshops myself, I could end up making myself even more suspicious, especially if I bumped into the detectives! Suddenly, I felt like looking over my shoulder. Did they send anyone to tail me? With how I was acting, I wouldn't be surprised if they did! Maybe I should call Dan up instead and get his help yet again. I bet when we first met two decades ago, he never imagined he would one day have to do anything like this.

Wait, Dan was my alibi, so they probably knew his face too. Fuck! There was no one else I trusted enough for something like this. No one else even knew I was planning to propose to Terri...

My throat felt dry. The detectives didn't even offer me a drink the whole time I was there. Turning away from the train station, I walked into an old convenience store. One of the lights were occasionally blinking, making me wonder if I had made a mistake coming in here. Pulling open a refrigerator, I grabbed a bottle of chilled water and brought it to the counter.

"Two dollars," said the store clerk.

What a bargain, I thought, suddenly remembering why I never go to these shops. I pulled out my credit card and handed it to her. Then, my eyes fell upon a bunch of prepaid cellphones on sale, hanging on a rack by the counter. I felt myself stiffening as a thought crossed my head. Should I really do this?

"Please sign, sir."

Without looking away from the cellphones, I took her pen and signed the receipt wordlessly.

She barely even glanced at my signature before she returned my card. "Thank you, sir."

"Uh, actually, I'll get one of these phones after all," I took one and placed it on the counter. "My phone's broken, you know," I smiled nervously. Sure, that wasn't at all suspicious.

"Card again, sir?"

"Yes---uh, wait," I pulled the card back, suddenly realising I didn't want my 'burner phone' purchase to be on my credit card. I fished out some cash from my wallet instead, suddenly thankful I had been to the ATM recently. "Might as well use up my cash," I reasoned. Now that definitely didn't scream 'guilty' at all.

But, she didn't even so much as to raise an eyebrow when she accepted my cash. The area was known for its criminal elements, though, so maybe she was already used to it? My initial credit card purchase should put the detectives off from finding out about the cellphone, so it worked out. That was the theory anyway.

Before walking out of the store, I removed the cellphone out of the box and memorised its number. Now that I had a burner phone, what could I use it for? As I was walking by a group of punk teenagers, I suddenly had an idea. Of course. Could it be that easy?

Paranoid about the possibility of being followed, I continued walking into the train station, as if I had nothing else in my mind but to get home. As soon as I entered the station, out of sight of a possible tail, I quickly made a beeline towards an underground walkway beneath the building. My heart was thumping hard in my chest. I smiled nervously when I saw a group of street thugs hanging out in one corner of the walkway. You can do this.

"Hey, guys," I greeted with a careful smile.

All seven teenagers in baggy clothing turned toward me and frowned. At least two of them brandished a penknife, as if in warning. One of them stepped forward ahead of the group. "Oi, punk, you lost or sumthin'?" This 'leader' had a shaved head and a hard expression, a look one might think was beyond his years. Like the rest of the group, however, he was lanky.

I raised both my hands, showing my empty palms. "No, no, I just got preposition for you," I explained while slowly pulling a fifty out of my wallet. "Here, take this."

The leader of the group looked at me with a mixture of suspicion and perplexity. Nonetheless, he reached over and snatched the note from my hands. "Whaddaya want for it?"

"Well, you see," I began nervously. "I lost my engagement ring recently, and I'm pretty sure it's been sold to a pawnshop." I swallowed, suddenly feeling thirsty again.

"And?" the teenager crossed his arms. That was when I first noticed a dragon tattoo on his forearm.

"I need it early tomorrow," I explained as I pulled out a notepad and pen from my bag. "As soon as you see a ring with an inscription that says 'the lucky woman I am going to marry', call me on this number." I tore off the page and handed it to the teenager. Looks like the burner phone is useful already.

The street thug took the number and glanced at it with amusement. "What makes you think I won't just keep the fifty and split?"

"Because I'll make it worth your while if you find me my ring. Let's just say I have hundreds to spare."

He pondered at the cash in his hand for a minute, before pushing it into the back pocket of his fades jeans. "What does the inscription say, again?"

I knocked on the door twice, then once. Almost immediately, the door flew open, revealing a worried-looking Dan. A feeling of guilt rushed through me. I resisted the urge to enter his apartment when he pushed his door open wider in invitation.

"Hey," I said instead.


"About the alibi thing..."

"Anytime, dude. You know I'll always have your back."

What kind of friend makes another break the law? This has gone too far. "I think we should keep apart for a bit. I don't want the---"

"---the detectives to know how close we really are?"

I nodded. "You got it," I said quietly. "Easier to believe an alibi from a neighbour than a childhood friend." Now, thanks to you, Dan might even get charged for obstruction of justice.

He closed his eyes and exhaled. "Seb, you know you're innocent, right?" he replied instead.

"How can you be so sure?" I felt my voice cracking a bit.

There was determination in his eyes. "Think about it. I've never seen you with a switchblade, like ever. How would you even know where to get one?"

I shrugged dismissively. "Maybe it was Kyle's."

"And you were covered with blood all over, right? Why was it only on your clothes and on your bed?" he continued. "There was no blood anywhere else, not even on the knob of your front door that morning. How do you explain that?"

"Maybe I wiped my hands on my pants before opening the door."

"And dude, how on earth did you get home from the club that night? It's at least an hour by foot, and I'm pretty sure you didn't take a cab or the subway if you were covered in all that blood!"

"It's only an hour's walk. I've done it before."

He threw up his hands in frustration. "For fuck's sake, Seb!" Dan rubbed his temples. "Look, what I'm trying to say is you're being set up. Someone is pinning this on you."

I frowned at him. It wasn't like I haven't thought of that during one of my 'good' moods. "But why? Is it because someone wanted to destroy me, or because someone wanted to kill Kyle?"

"Dude, fuck if I know."

"So, we have nothing."

"No, it means now we have to go and find out. Do Kyle or yourself have any enemies?"

Some of my colleagues' backstabbing faces popped into my mind at that moment. "I don't know. Look, Dan, thanks for everything, but I don't want you to get involved any further."

My best friend only laughed dismissively. "Try and stop me."

I smiled at that. "Anyway, I have to go back to my apartment now. I think the police might be watching me."

He cringed. "That bad, huh?"

"Remember poker nights in college? This was so much worse."

The phone call came in the next morning while I was waiting for my train in the subway. At first, I didn't realise the burner phone was ringing, because it was the first time I was hearing it. I drew a deep breath before answering the phone.

"We found your ring," said the leader of the street thugs. "This pawnshop is selling it for like three hundred bucks."

Silently whooping in celebration, I couldn't stop myself from smiling. "Where is it?" I had five hundred in cash which I had saved up for a rainy day packed into my work bag.

"Uh-uh, money first."

"Fine. If you have the cash, buy it from the shop right away and meet me. I'll give you two hundred on top of the ring cost."

"Hey, me and my boys, we don't have that kind of money."

I cursed softly. It was worth a try. "I understand. Give me a minute."

The detectives were looking for the ring as we speak, so I shouldn't delay this any further. But if I tried to collect the ring myself, how late will I be? Do I call in sick again? What if I bumped into the detectives?

Maybe I can offer the street boys cash to pick up the ring for me? No, if I gave them three hundred, I would only have two hundred left. They'd have no reason to actually buy the ring and trade it for two hundred. Plus, how much can I really trust these guys?

"Oi, we don't have all day," barked the teenager in my ear. "Are we doing this or what?"
to be continued...

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Tikanni Corazon

Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 1286
Location: Running through the plains of my mind, my wolf spirit at my side (but doing so in the UK!).

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:09 am    Post subject:  

Hey Sagi!

Awesome, awesome, awesome chapter, as always! You retain my loyalty to this SG ten fold every time I read a new chapter for it, and it remains my favourite! :)

I loved the interaction with the store clerk. I think anyone who's done something they shouldn't have (which of course I most certainly have never done... * whistles*), the paranoia that EVERYONE must be able to see that you're guilty is very prominent and you really pulled that off well, but especially in that scene, I thought. I also found it amusing too, lol!

I also thought it was brilliant how you managed to get around the problem of who to call about the engagement ring, seeing as the only person Seb could have called could have got him into more trouble. I honestly wouldn't have thought of the scenario you set out in the chapter ever. It was fab!

And, lastly, I liked the scene with Dan and Seb too. I always enjoy how close their friendship is, and it's good to know that Seb has someone willing to watch his back. I don't know, but I get the feeling that he needs someone there to be that 'rock' for him. I like both characters, but I do find Seb to be very endearing, lol!

For the DP, I'm going to say...Hmmm, this is another tough one. Two hundred dollars is quite a bit of money for a bunch of kids, so I think they'd be willing to do a little more work for it. Seb should go to work, and during that time, ask the kids to hang around the shop discreetly, to keep an eye on things in case the police show up. Seb himself is likely being watched, so, as Dan has said he wants to help him, ask Dan to go there during a break at work. He can check to make sure that the ring is actually there, pay the kids. I am wondering though...what if the police have already located the ring and are waiting for Seb to go there to buy it? Then Dan is going to get into trouble...This really is hard, lol! Short of asking the kids to rob the place though, and get the ring that way, which could very easily go wrong and alert the police all the quicker if they're not aware of the ring's location, I can't see what else can be done. Am I over-thinking this, do you think? Lol!

I'll put forward both suggestions though. One Seb gets the kids to watch the store for cops then send Dan to buy it for him and pay the kids for their time. 2 See if the kids are willing to rob the joint, lol! * shrugs* I don't know. There doesn't seem to be a cautious route to take here other than the first, so you have a cautious idea and a very reckless one as well. XD

Awesome chapter, Sagi! Very much enjoyed and I look forward to the next one! Keep up the good work! :)
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Kalanna Rai

Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:13 am    Post subject:  

Alright Seb, put the spy movies down and back away. You already told them how much money you have, why are they not just going to jump you and leave you for dead taking ring and money with them?

Not to mention you're not going to be seen anywhere near that pawnshop right?

You're going to have to trust them and give them the cost of the ring and hope that the two hundred is going to lure them back to you.
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Joined: 25 Oct 2012
Posts: 503
Location: Penna, having a hot cup of tea

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:00 pm    Post subject:  

Sagi, I don't know how you do it, but you keep making this SG even more brilliant with each chapter! ;)

I wouldn't trust thugs to take a loss of $100 for some guy they just met. If Seb was able to match the $300 however.... That, of course, would involve him using his bank card to withdraw money. If he could, however, go to a grocery store, or something, where it looks like he's getting everyday items and withdrawing money as an emergency, then it shouldn't look too suspicious that he gets out that much. With an even trade the thugs will be more likely to get the ring without causing problems afterwards.

Keep up the excellent work, Sagi! :D
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Joined: 05 May 2012
Posts: 367

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:34 pm    Post subject:  

Thanks for reading and commenting Rai, Tika and Seraphi! :D

I'll probably put up a poll next week, since in the last one some missed out in providing DPs.
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Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 1858
Location: Surrounded by many beautiful naked men

Posted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:41 pm    Post subject: I Think. . . . . .  

Let's see. . . . . . .Ah-HA! A very good read. It's flow is improving, and that beginning part is amazing! Makes me wanna grab you and strangle you :P But, with all love of course.

DP. . . . . .DP. . . . . . .Pay the kids, go to the pawn shop and call the detectives. Tell them you wanted to help out so you went surfing the pawn shops last night to try and find the ring. Seems bland, but it wins you some points with the police, or loses them but hey, might as well take the chance :P

Lat's see what happens next Sagi-kun!
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Joined: 05 May 2012
Posts: 367

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:47 pm    Post subject:  

Thanks pope!!

By the way, this chapter is now polling. :D
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