Claire makes her way through town and ends up somewhere she really shouldn’t be, a gang hangout. She asks the leader for marijuana so she can plant them on Maddie. He delays, offering her a drink. Foolishly, she drinks it all.
“I don’t feel well,” Claire said. “I wanna go back now.”
“The weed ain’t here yet,” the man said. “We gotta wait for the weed, baby.”
“No, I need—go.” Her words slurred as the room shifted and melted around her. She tried to stand, her legs wouldn’t support her. She fell back onto the couch and her eyes drifted shut.
Claire was only marginally aware of her surroundings. She’d been moved to what felt like a bed. The room was warm and she lay on something soft. It took a few moments to realize that she was naked. Her money and clothing were gone.
“Hello?” No one answered.
She didn’t hear anything to indicate that were other people around. Getting up, she discovered she was lying on a waterbed. The sheets were rumpled. Claire pulled the top sheet off the bed, wrapping it around herself. The room looked like part of an old warehouse. The walls were crumbling brick. The concrete floor was littered with debris. Only the area around the bed was clean.
It was dark outside. She could see the sky through some dusty panes of glass high in the walls. Feeling lost and alone, she sat on the bed, not knowing what to do or where to go. She could be miles away, or just around the corner from the church. Bursting into tears, she waited to see what her fate would be.
“I don’t know, man. I keep wondering if she’s like right under our noses,” Gabe said as he wandered from one dimly lit street to another. “There are so many places she could hide or be hidden.”
“I can’t believe no one has seen anything,” Clayton complained. “She’d stick out like a sore thumb with all that blonde hair.”
Gabe nodded. “Yeah, she wouldn’t exactly blend. I got one more place to go. I just was putting it off.”
“Let’s go.” Clayton started walking, but Gabe stopped.
“This time, I got to ask you to stay back, gringo.” He held up his hand to stop Clayton’s protests. “For your safety—and mine. You don’t speak unless he tells you. Most of these guys around here, they’re a little scared of my dad. This guy, he’s not scared of anyone. Got it?”
“I got it. Not a word. I’m the inaudible man.”
Gabe led the way to an abandoned warehouse about a mile from the church. Most of the windows were broken out, the remaining ones were grubby or painted over. There were a few lights outside, but for the most part it was dark. Salsa music blared from the interior. Taking a deep breath, Gabe banged on the door. There was no answer. He banged again, louder. The door flew open. A short, stocky man with slicked back hair stood there, glowering.
“I need to see him,” Gabe said quietly in Spanish. “Please.”
The short man stood back, allowing him through.
“Your friend coming?” he asked.
“Not unless it’s okay.”
“Why not? You, kid.” He jerked his head at Clayton.
© 2015 Dellani Oakes