Posted in Books & Stories

The Distant Factory — Chapter Twenty One

This afternoon there are new developments in the recent discovery of some gruesome crimes in recent weeks. Police have now released the names and pictures of four persons of interest. None of them are considered suspects just yet, but the police would like to question the following individuals regarding other crimes that may be linked to the murder of Washington Heights city councillor Dwayne Jackson and the now 52 identified teenage girls found in a mass grave last month. The first person of interest is a man known to police named Damian Welker, here is his mugshot onscreen right now, he is currently wanted for weapons trafficking and extortion. The second person of interest today is a man named Andrew Murdoch, the reason the police want to question him hasn’t been released to us but he has obviously been in trouble with the law before as we have a mugshot from 2002 on file. The two last persons of interest are nineteen-year-old Connor Peterson who is a known associate of Damian Welker and multiple area drug kingpins, and a teenage girl only known as Ana Sims seen on security footage breaking into stores with Peterson as well as dropping off a large sum of money on a doorstep in Croton-On-Hudson. The names of other persons of interest have been released during a press conference as well, however we have no photos of these people.

They had a very clear image of my face and what I was doing on Robin Crowley’s property. In the previous days I had also been wandering around town, somebody was going to track me down sooner or later, it was just a matter of time. The walls were closing in on me alone in my dark hotel room with nothing but the light from the TV screen illuminating the surroundings. I was running out of money to move around and hide in different places too. There was a part of me that so badly didn’t want to run anymore, but until I had found Damian and Connor, I had to keep looking and keep a low profile. The last I had heard of Byron, he had managed to contact his mother but he hadn’t told her who he was, so I imagined another reason why the authorities would be interested in me. Byron had lied for me and for all of us for so long and his time had come to tell the truth, there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to find a way to do just that without taking all of us down. But I was going down and I knew that very well. All I had do to was wait.

The following morning I got dressed in some new clothes that I had made Byron get for me. I put on some large sunglasses that were way too big for my face and covered my head with the hood of my new red hoodie. I only had a thousand bucks left in my pockets and no weapons, so unless somebody had been monitoring me, I was not Ana Sims and I had nothing to do with her. When I left the hotel room and made my way to Whitehaven, I had a pretty good idea that I would get caught because there was no doubt in my mind that the authorities were monitoring Damian Welker’s place and everybody that came and went. But I had to try anyway. My guys had skipped town and I never had the chance to give any of them a proper goodbye before the whole situation blew up. Damian was the only one left, but even before I set out part of me knew that he was already gone.

My entire life I had searched for things and people that were already gone. Part of me wondered if it wasn’t me that had always been gone. Nobody had any answers to my questions and none of them mattered anyway. I could only hold on to the faint hope that Damian was still somewhere out there and that I could get to him before anybody else did. On my way to Whitehaven I deliberately took the long way there so I could pass through Cobalt and get a glimpse of what was going on there. The police presence was huge, bigger than anything else I had ever seen in the history of living on the streets and seeing all sorts of things happen right in front of your eyes. News crews were reporting out of Cobalt day and night and finally the small town had been put on the map once and for all. I only prayed that my people had all gotten out of there.

The trip to Whitehaven had gone without a single hiccup. I got dropped off in the outskirts of the small community without incident. It didn’t seem like anyone had followed me but I’m sure somebody was watching somewhere. They had to be, the authorities weren’t complete idiots, they knew where Damian lived. It was just a matter of catching him in the act. The media presence in Whitehaven was enormous too. You could clearly see the factory off of Old Mill Road down by the river so of course if you had a shot of the crime scene in the background of your news report your ratings were much higher. It was just a ploy to get more viewers and make more money. Nothing in life was about the greater good of the people around you, and if it once was, it wasn’t anymore. There’s nothing good anymore when you’re on the run.

I walked over to Damian’s old moldy building and went up the stairs to his floor. As I went up I carefully examined every detail of the building out of paranoia that going over there would just sink the two of us. Nothing seemed to be different except that the place never got cleaner and new disgusting smells seem to come out of it every time I walked in there. As I neared the door of Damian’s apartment I became so increasingly nervous that I wanted to faint, throw up and die all at the same time. For a split second I almost turned around and when running back outside but I knew that I only had one chance so I decided to go ahead and take it. The worst thing that was going to happen was a police officer waiting to apprehend me inside. Whether it happened in the apartment building or somewhere down in the streets below, I was going to get caught one day or another. I had nothing to lose.

So I walked right up to the door and looked around me one last time before lifting up my hand to knock. It took me a few seconds but I did it. I knocked gently on the door to not make too much noise but nobody answered. I heard no footsteps coming to the door to open it. It was still just me in the hallway. Nothing had changed. So I knocked louder, knowing that Damian hated people pounding on his door. That would prompt him to open it, or at least that’s what I thought. Still nothing. I still stood alone in the hallway in front of a closed door. On a whim I tried the door handle just to see if it was unlocked by chance but I had no luck there either. It seemed like the man wasn’t home but I wanted him so badly to be home because I was in trouble and I needed some twisted sense of comfort and peace of mind that I knew he could give me so I pounded on his door with my fist like a person who had gone completely mad.

“Damian! Damian!” I shouted as I relentlessly pounded on the door, “Damian open the door, please!”

The neighbor that lived right across the hall came out of his apartment angrily when I simply wouldn’t stop making noise. He loudly let his door slam behind him as he looked at me menacingly.

“Damian obviously ain’t here kid! Did you know there’s a warrant for that guy’s arrest all over the news?” the bald man covered in piercings spoke to me apprehensively, seemingly very annoyed, “What do you want from a convict anyway? Why are you here?”
“Because I’m his daughter!” I choked up on a whim, not knowing what else to say and no longer being able to contain my panic.

The most horrified look I had ever seen with my own eyes swept across the man’s face. Behind him in the doorway a woman, probably his wife, holding a Siamese cat in her arms looked just as horrified as he did. I figured that it was common knowledge that he had buried his little girl and then having me show up at the door, resurrected from the grave, it was bound to raise questions somewhere. I ran off crying before the neighbors had the chance to do anything or say something else. I bolted out the door in the lobby faster than I had ever ran before. The worst part wasn’t that I was running from monsters, the Ku Klux Klan or Catholic nuns, the worst part was that I was running from myself and what I had done. There weren’t many places where I could go before the impending doom looming over my head caught up to me.

I ran a few miles to another small municipality by the side of the river and sat on one of their floating docks in the water. I took off my red hoodie and sat on it. I did all I could do, and that was wait for the police to come and get me. The people in the apartment across the hall from Damian’s were going to call the police, there was never any doubt about that, but once again it was a question of when. It was still early afternoon out in the land of the living but I felt as good as dead. I prayed that the authorities could just come and pick me up once and for all, but hours and hours went by and nobody came. Eventually the sun began to set in the distance and a cold wind started to blow. Nothing had happened. I was beginning to wonder if anybody was coming for me in the first place. I hadn’t dreamed of seeing myself on TV, wanted. So where was everyone? One thing I knew for sure, they weren’t here.

As the sunset was dissipating over the buildings, I heard a single set of footsteps coming from behind me. The pace wasn’t slow but it wasn’t in a hurry, it was casual, relaxed. I did not turn back to see who it was. It didn’t matter to me who it was. All the people I loved were already gone. I had nobody to look back for. The footsteps stopped just a few feet from me on the wooden dock but I still didn’t turn around for a single glance. All I could do was look at the waves of the water going back and forth. The person took another step towards me and stopped again, seemingly cautious, so I finally I tilted up my head and looked. The first thing I saw next to me was a dirty leather trench coat. I looked up at the man and saw that it was Damian!

“Oh my goodness!” I shouted as I literally jumped up, “How did you find me?”

I honestly couldn’t believe it. It was really him!

“Somebody told me that my daughter stopped by,” he spoke apprehensively, “I simply couldn’t ignore something like that.”

I broke down crying at the sight of him and in response he took me into his arms and held me tightly.

“I’m so sorry Damian,” I muttered, “but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t give you a proper goodbye.”
“I know baby,” his voice softened up, “I know what unfinished emotional business is all about.”
“Everyone in my life is gone and it’s my own fault!”
“Well I’m still here ain’t I?”

Damian loosened his tight hold on me and stroked my cheek with his rough hand. The look in his eyes was gentle and he seemed to be on the verge of tears.

“There’s nothing under the moon that I wouldn’t do for you baby,” Damian’s voice was nothing but a whisper, “what’s going on with you?”
“I am so sorry Damian,” I had a hard time containing my emotions, “but it’s all over. It’s just a matter of time before they find us and I am so sorry that I got you into this mess because I was angry and impulsive. I just need you to know that.”
“I was in trouble long before you ever came alone, it just a matter of time before they caught me anyway. Don’t hold this one against yourself. You’ve suffered enough. I still have some of the money you gave me, thank you for that sweetheart, so you can still get out of here.”
“There’s no running anymore. I want all of this to be over more than anything Damian. I’m just sorry that I had to drag you down with me, and I want you to know that.”
“I know, I always have.”

Damian leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

“I think about all the days of my life when I could’ve done something more,” I muttered, “and I think about all the days of my life when I should’ve done things differently.”
“It ain’t too late honey,” Damian’s voice was shaking, “we can still make it through this I promise you that.”
“It’s too late to not drink the vodka after you swallowed it. Our pictures are all over the media Damian, I can’t understand why they haven’t picked us up by now!”
“They’ve got some of the biggest cases in centuries on their hands right now, we’re not wanted for murder either. There’s still time.”
“I just want it all to end! I really screwed things up for myself and I don’t want this life anymore!”
“Then go to the police. They aren’t very far. Tell them everything, and tell them that I’ve done some truly horrific things to you and that I made you do other things. That way the judge will have compassion on you and he’ll want to help you instead of condemning you.”
“You have so much faith in such a perverted system.”
“It’ll at least buy you a chance. Otherwise you’ll never see the light of day again. You’re still so damn young.”
“And what about you and Connor? I didn’t come back here to sink the Titanic!”
“Connor skipped town. When he left I already never expected to see him again so that’s irrelevant now. Right now the pigs want to talk to me about guns that I’ve sold but once they dig up some more dirt, I’m going away for a very long time.”
“Well I guess it’s the two of us now.”
“At least take twenty thousand bucks and give skipping town a shot. All that money won’t be of much good to me in prison.”
“No way in hell Damian. I’m staying right here with you.”

I put my disguise back on and Damian and I rode back to Bronx in his car to his hideout by the waterfront in the area Byron and I had been a few weeks earlier.

“I had no idea that you were this close all this time,” I spoke mostly to myself as Damian parked the car near the alley Byron had parked his in.
“What do you mean?” he asked as he overheard.
“A kid named Byron and I came here just a few days ago while we waited to be caught.”
“Well we’re both here now.”

Damian’s hideout was a small office near an old converted industrial compound. There was one large living area containing the living room, dining room, kitchen, everything. At one end there was a single bedroom and next to it was the bathroom. Huge metal bars covered the windows and there was a big stash of guns laying on the pool table in a dirty corner. The man was loaded to say the least. His hideout was about just as bad as his apartment back in Whitehaven but at least it didn’t smell like mold and urine. It only smelled like smoke from years of smoking in there. The windows didn’t open so there was no getting that nasty smell out of there.

“Until they come,” Damian spoke softly as he turned the light on, “this will have to do.”
“It’s perfect,” I smiled softly at him, “do you have cable on that TV?”

He didn’t. The two of us spent at least half an hour trying to arrange the rabbit ears in order to get some half-decent reception for the late night news. By the time we got some good reception the newscast had long since ended. On the other hand, we had ended up covering the rabbit ears with aluminum foil and taping them to the wall afterwards in an area where we had the clearest reception. It was still snowy in his old TV but at least you could see and hear everything onscreen.

“Guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow eh,” I spoke in a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment, “to see if we’re in some more hot water.”
“Come to bed and I’ll rub your back,” Damian proposed as he fixed up his bedroom, “I’ll do my best to make this place as comfortable as I can while we’re in here.”

The following morning, even after a goodnight’s sleep in Damian’s strong arms, I was completely cracking up. It had gotten to the point that I threw up everything I ate not matter how small or insignificant. I wanted to go running outside with my arms up in air shouting that I had killed Dwayne Jackson and that I wanted God to forgive me. It became increasingly hard for me to focus on the words of encouragement that Byron and Esteban had blessed me with. The only thing looming over my head was what I had done and the unknown; what would be the result of it. At noon Damian and I tuned into the newscast for any updates on the case in order to determine what we were going to do next or if we were just to stay put until further notice. It wasn’t long before the two of us knew our fate.

We have some breaking news this hour regarding the Dwayne Jackson murder case. Police have just released some security footage from inside City Hall clearly showing Anastasia Sims making multiple visits in the days and weeks before the councillor was murdered. On another video, footage from the back parking lot where staff keep their vehicles, the teen girl is seen loitering around seemingly waiting for someone. Towards the end of the clip you clearly see her going to retrieve some paper and writing something before depositing on a car offscreen and leaving the way she came. Authorities now believe that she was either hired by the killer to blackmail the city councillor or she has some sort of other information regarding the crime.

“Well that didn’t take long,” Damian spoke with no emotion in his voice.
“Bunch of idiots!” I snapped back angrily, “I killed the jerk! But then again, I had very little motive to do so compared to some other people it seems.”
“This might sound crazy honey, but a lot of people out there will hail you as a hero. Sure they won’t say that killing the guy was the right way to get rid of him, but if what you say he did is true, the friends and family of all those people he hurt won’t be able to hate you.”
“You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind.”
“Seriously, if the person who killed my little girl was to be killed tomorrow, I’d get down on my knees and worship the person who did it.”
“So what happens now? They know they want me and after today I don’t have much time.”
“What happens now is up to you. The minute we’ll leave here they’ll find us.”
“Do you think that we’ll go down in history for this? Centuries from now do you think they’ll still have our faces and our names in books and movies?”
“Is that what you want to happen?”
“Is there anything else that can happen? People won’t give a crap if I go out there, but something will happen if I bring a gun to City Hall.”
“You’re on your own for a suicide mission though.”
“I’ve been a nobody my entire life. I don’t want to go out like a nobody.”
“Make sure they remember your name!”

My faith had been short lived. Forgiveness wasn’t going to work. At least not in the moment. All that stuff could wait for a later time. For the moment the only thing I wanted was for everything to end.

“I’m not bringing a gun to City Hall,” I spoke in a very serious tone of voice, “but I will be paying the place a visit. There is a time to plant and a time to uproot.”

Damian and I put on some disguises just so we could make it the short distance to Washington Heights before somebody spotted us. I wore my same hoodie and sunglasses while Damian actually put on some clean clothes and a ball cap before we jumped into the car and took a short drive.

“What are you doing to do?” Damian asked me seemingly afraid of what I was plotting, “I don’t want the security personnel to shoot you in there.”
“If they shoot me they shoot me,” I replied apprehensively, “but I’ll just be creating a scare in the people at the memorial in there. When the dynamite starts to sweat it becomes very unstable.”
“Just don’t lose it in there. I’m not going to be able to handle losing you too.”
“I love you Damian. Whatever happens from this moment on, I just want to make sure that you know that.”
“I love you too Ana. Now make sure that no matter what happens, this all ends with a bang!”

I grinned at him and got out of the vehicle right in front of City Hall as Damian was going around the block to find a parking space. I walked passed the crowds of people and the media into the buildings where a huge makeshift memorial had been erected for the corrupt councillor. It was growing more and more every day. What all of those people didn’t know were the things the city councillor had done when nobody was looking. I walked through the crowd and climbed up onto a table and accidentally knocked down some picture frames and made them come crashing to the floor, attracting the attention of everyone who was in there. In that moment I ripped off my hood and ditched my sunglasses, letting everyone know in complete shock and horror who I was.

“My name is revenge and I’m here to make my claim!”

Only a fraction of a second passed before the security guards drew their guns on me and everyone got up against the walls.

“Put your hands behind your head and get down on the ground right now!” an officer shouted at me as I grinned at the expressions on everyone’s faces, “Don’t make it say it twice!”
“Take it easy popo,” I chuckled, “by the way Damian Welker is behind you.”

That sure sent everyone into a frenzy. One office tackled unarmed Damian to the ground and arrested him. Another officer tackled me from behind only a few seconds later as I was watching the scene unfold in front of my face with great delight. Fast forward less than a minute and I was being read my rights while City Hall was being evacuated. Damian and I locked looks for one last time as the two of us were being escorted out and put into the back of two separate police cars.

“You’ll all thank me once you find out what Dwayne Jackson did!” I shouted as a media frenzy swarmed Damian Welker and I.

Back at the police station I was booked and put into an interrogation room where one staff member came in and told me a bunch of useless and irrelevant crap and finished with telling me that I could make one phone call before two homicide detectives were going to relentlessly question me, but I was ready to talk. I was ready to tell them everything.


Liberal Muslim, social justice and human rights activist, cat lover, author and fellow human.

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