The chill wind the night was bringing whistled. It could have been the adrenaline of the chase finally wearing off but Agent LYDIA LOWE could have sworn the heat wave that had been swarming over the city was finally breaking.
“You swore loyalty to me you rat faced bitch!” Tabitha hissed at her as she was led up the steps of the Coldford Police Department with a firm grip. The same steps I had descended with the Boss Lady just the previous day after my wife, Theresa, had been murdered. Lydia didn’t respond to the vexation the way I assume Tabitha had hoped she would.
The agent remained calm.
“I never swore anything to you,” she replied, pushing her prisoner on, still with a firm grip around her arm. Tabitha of course protested.
“Anyone who flashes their tits on my stage, loyalty is a given.”
CPD had cleared of the busyness of the day staff. There were still a few low lights and some detectives working at their desks on cases requiring long hours.
Lydia led Tabitha to the office of DETECTIVE HICKES.
“You are going to regret this,” Tabitha was still saying. “I have a lot of sway in this city.”
“Oh, you’re something alright,” agreed the agent distractedly, looking for Hickes.
“You bet your ass I am. Before I’m done you are going to wish you had stayed in your fucking northern hole.”
Lydia – still eagerly awaiting Hickes – replied, “What are you going to do? Pull my hair? Push me in the mud?”
Tabitha scoffed. “God! What a fucking tramp!” she exclaimed to herself. She turned then and looked behind her. “Oh, hi Hickesy,” she said with a grin.
Detective Hickes had arrived in a fluster. He ignored Tabitha and spoke directly to the agent.
“Reynolds has been taken to General. I had to sort out the others.”
By the ‘others’ he meant Simon Penn, Paddy Mack of the Mack and Sons brewery as well as some of the other Macks that had given them trouble when they raided the Knock Knock club. “I have holding ready for her,” he explained while brandishing a set of keys.
Further into the belly of CPD, Tabitha was shown to what would be her residence for the foreseeable future.
“I want to call my lawyer,” Tabitha stated, taking a seat on the bed. “This is barbaric. I haven’t even been processed properly.”
Hickes finally acknowledged her. “You are being processed right now,” he told her. To Lydia he said, “I’ll send the paperwork over to Judge Doyle within the hour.”
“I need to call my lawyer,”Tabitha piped up again.
Hickes became frustrated. “You are a category A prisoner. In the city of Coldford that means we can hold you for at least 48 hours without giving you jack shit. More than that, if you don’t sit on your ass and stop running your mouth. It’s over Tabitha. Stay quiet and don’t make it any more difficult on yourself than it needs to be.”
Tabitha leaned back on her elbows. “A take-charge man? When did you grow such big balls?”
“Will she be secure enough in here?” Lydia put to Hickes.
“She will. I’ll have someone on the door twenty-four hours. Havitz can take the first shift. As soon as she’s tried she will be moved to the Monte Fort.”
Tabitha sat back up again at the mention of the infamous women’s correctional facility. “You sound so sure of yourself. Those big balls of yours must be ready for bursting.”
Both the detective and the agent turned to her.
“It’s over Tabitha,” Lydia reminded her again. “The game is over.”
Tabitha rolled her eyes. “Then before you go and break out the parade you may want to take a look in the KNOCK KNOCK holding and help out your little reporter pal.”
“SAM?” Lydia looked to Hickes. “He left with that little girl.”
“Wrrrrrong!” Tabitha sang. “He tried to leave and made a pretty shitty job of it, too.”
“They were just going to open up the hold when I left,” said Hickes.
Lydia shook her head. “I better get back over there.”
Hickes followed Lydia out. Securely locking the door behind them. Two CPD officers stood on the door with guns ready.
“No one caring about little Sarah then? Just me? Mother fuckers!” Tabitha could be heard calling as she was locked in.
Tabitha took a look at her surroundings. As someone who had been running amok in the Shady City for so long there was little satisfaction in having her in custody. Perhaps it was because they knew she was dangerous until behind Monte Fort bars. Most people would be beginning to question some of the choices they had made. However, even then, even at that late stage, Tabitha assumed the fight was far from over. It was just that the battlefield was changing. The evidence against her was set.
I had heard the commotion spilling in from outside. I had heard gunshots but there was nothing I could do. I assumed someone would come soon but time passed and I began to think Tabitha had fought off whatever attack had come. Still there was no word. Still dressed only in my underwear, I looked again at MADELINE’S lifeless body. I shivered. It was an internal shiver that reached into the core of my body. In the past twenty-four hours I had lost so much pursuing a story on the KNOCK KNOCK club. If I had known then what was still to come, I don’t think I would have been able to go on but, as I said, the story had to be told. Finally there was an explosion at the door. Tabitha had refused to give up the keys to be difficult and her minions weren’t cooperating either.
“Why the fuck should I make it easier for any of them?” she had asked. “They brutalised my staff, wrecked my club and they want me to play nice?”
Things couldn’t get any worse for her. Why should she make it easier for anyone else?
LYDIA was the first to enter. My mind was still a little hazy from SIMON PENN’S knock out. I was still a little punched drunk, probably concussed too.
“She attacked me,” was all I could say. “Madeline was going to kill me.”
Lydia took a look at Madeline and had already deduced the story. She pulled me to my feet.
“You’ll be alright, Sam,” she said. Her northern BOURNTON accent was warming. Her soft, naturally cheery voice reminded me that I wasn’t alone. Perhaps it was that that gave me the fight to go on.
“Tabitha is in custody,” she said and, whilst those should have been the sweetest words to my ears at that point after everything she had done to me, I couldn’t help but feel unsettled.
Crossing through the club was like crossing a field in the aftermath of a battle. Chairs were overturned, blood soaked the floors, and men and women beaten into submission cowered in the corners with guns pointed at them.
“They came for Tabitha?” I asked of Lydia.
Lydia knew where my thinking was leading. “She has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. CPD couldn’t be too careful.”
I took note of the club members who were surrendering. Were they innocent? Perhaps not but was it really for the guns of CPD to decide that? They came for Tabitha. They had her. So why were CPD still holding club members?
“You could make this easier on yourself,” said Hickes. “Just confess.”
Tabitha folded her arms across her chest and sat back on her bench.
“Why don’t you tell me what I’m confessing to?”
Hickes groaned with impatience. He stood and leaned on the table. “You know what you’re in for,” he said.
Tabitha shrugged. “Driving too fast?”
Hickes clenched fists. “Damnit Tabitha, make it easier on yourself!”
Tabitha laughed. “Look at you all in a rage. The little vein in your head is popping out and everything.”
“They’ve been after you for years. They are looking for any excuse,” Hickes reminded her. Now that they have you they will make an example of you.”
Tabitha fell silent for a few moments. “I notice you said they and not we. Whose side are you on?”
“I’m on the side that doesn’t want to see this city torn apart,” he replied with a sigh.
“It’s a pity,” she said, lifting her hand to inspect her fingernails.
“What is?” enquired the detective.
“What will happen to everyone my club protects. My AUNT TEE used that club to give shelter, food and support to so many. People like your sister for instance and your adorable little nephews.
“Eunice was grateful,” Hickes said.
Tabitha puckered her lips. “My HEADLINERS were only too happy to help. I even made sure Stanley paid dearly for what he did to her without you having to get your little detective hands dirty. When you think about it, I’m kinda like a super hero.”
Hickes shook himself off. “Let’s not lose track here. You are no hero. Stanley beat Eunice and those kids but what you did to him? No one should… “
Tabitha gave a laugh. “Yeah, it was quite creative, wasn’t it?”
“What about the innocent people that died when a floor of the Weir Hotel was blown?”
Tabitha shook her head. “If they were staying at the WEIR, trust me they weren’t innocent.”
Hickes growled. “You don’t get to make that judgement.”
“No? Then who does? Judge fucking cyclops?” Tabitha returned with venom, her reference meaning Judge Doyle of the Law Makers. The very one who had authorised her arrest.
“Helping some people out doesn’t give you the right to murder, steal or destroy this city.”
Tabitha didn’t reply at first. Hickes thought he was beginning to get through to her.
“I need to speak to someone,” she said.
Hickes shook his head. “I told you, no calls.”
Tabitha leaned forward. Her expression softened. The bravado still lingered but it was lower than before. “For the sake of Eunice and those kids.”
Hickes’ nostrils flared but he too softened. “Who do you need to speak to?”
“I need to see my Aunt Agnes.”
AGNES WILDE was partner to Tabitha’s Aunt Tawny. They opened the club together and treated the Boss Lady like a daughter. Agnes was still on the board of the club, better known as the Broker.
“Just five minutes…” she hesitated. “Please.”
Next week we’re off to the PENN AUCTION HOUSE to catch up with our old pal and former club manager Dennis.
In the meantime: Here’s the story so far: