“She’s the reason I went into the office with an armed man.”
Mom, wisely, said nothing.
“She was showing her appreciation. For me risking my life.”
There was a telltale sniffle.
“I heard him hit her, Mom. Would I be able to hold my head up, call myself your son, if I didn’t try to save her?”
“I’m so proud of you. This is why your sisters and I worked so hard. I’m so proud!”
I was afraid she was going to continue if I didn’t put a stop to it. “Will you tell the girls, so I don’t have to make a bunch of calls? I want to fix a really nice meal for Rowena tonight, for when she gets off work.”
“Oh, certainly, honey. When do I get to meet her?”
“I’ll find out when she’s available. I don’t know her schedule. It varies.”
“All right. But soon. I want to meet my future daughter-in-law.”
“Mom, don’t get previous.”
She hung up on me before I got that out. In her mind, we were married with children. Not sure how I was going to explain this to Rowena, I finished picking up, did a load of laundry, and put clean sheets on the bed. I didn’t realize until I was finished, that I was planning on asking Rowena to come home with me. Why the media trucks had squatted at her place, rather than mine, I didn’t know. If they got too intrusive, I’d simply ask her here.
That accomplished, I went to the garage and set the truck to rights. I’d wait to do the big cleaning until Monday, when I had my helper. I always give the kitchen a good scrub, wash the outside, check all the fluids, and air up the tires so it’s good to go on Tuesday. First thing I did was empty the tip jar and put the money into the safe. Once the cleanup was done, and I did a quick inventory, I took the money inside to do a count. I made out a deposit slip, and planned to head to the bank. I could shop for dinner ingredients while I was out. Seafood was out, but I have a killer recipe for braised pork chops with a raspberry reduction that’s to die for.
On the road again, I ran to the bank and made one of the largest deposits I’ve ever had. The day before had been a banner day, in more ways than one. The tips had exceeded my sales, more than doubling my usual take. Keeping out a hundred dollars from the tips, I still made an incredible amount of money. Pleased and proud, I headed to the grocery store.
The hostage crisis, that was the way it was billed on TV, was the talk of the town. Luckily, no one knew of my involvement. The TV spokespeople were telling viewers that an unknown police adjunct had negotiated the release of the women, and a special team had captured the perpetrator. I found it amusing that they weren’t telling the entire story. I hoped that Monroe was behind it. I didn’t care so much about myself. The only people who mattered, were the people I’d helped to save.
The mid-afternoon news segment was on, and some of the hostages were being interviewed. I saw Lucy and another of the women, smiling for the camera. Lucy’s bruises were livid and her lips looked puffy. I stopped to stare at the TV that played over by the pharmacy. Usually, it showed commercials about the store. Today, it was telling about our adventures.
“So, who was the mystery man who came to your rescue?” the female anchor asked them.
The women exchanged a look.
“I don’t think he wants us to tell,” Lucy said diplomatically. “He didn’t do it to be famous. He did it because he’s great man. A true hero.”
“Oh, come on. A hint?” She leaned forward eagerly.
They shook their heads.
“Sorry. No comment,” they said in chorus.
Pouting slightly, the reporter concluded the interview. “No one can find out the identity of the mystery man who walked boldly into the office at Starke and Howe, rescuing seven women and three men. If the police or the mayor’s office know, they aren’t saying, either. This is the best kept secret of the decade.” Smiling, she signed off.
I finished my shopping and went to the checkout line. I know all the cashiers here, as this is the only market I shop—other than the wholesalers and organic farmers. The woman at the register smiled at me.
“Some big do yesterday, huh?”
“Yeah. Sounds like.” I loaded my things onto the belt, and she started ringing them up.
“Don’t you park outside that building?”
“Do you know anything about it?”
“They didn’t tell us.” I shrugged.
“Nothing? You didn’t see the guy come out?”
“Nope.” True. I hadn’t seen myself come out.
“Well, poo. What fun is it having a man on the scene, if he didn’t see anything?”
“No fun at all. Sorry. They really did their best to keep it in-house.” Hoping she’d drop it, I pulled my wallet out and grabbed my cash.
“It wasn’t you, was it?” she was teasing, but had no idea she’d hit the nail directly on the head.
I forced a laugh. “Me? Seriously. Do I look like the Rambo type?” Chuckling, I completed my transaction.
©2021 Dellani Oakes