“Why don’t you let me take you home dad? It’s too cold to wait for the bus,” Police officer Arrin Krieger asked Arik, who was wrapping up his IT work on the Captain’s computer.
“Thanks, Arrin, I would love that,” he said, peeking out from under the desk. “Tony said it was supposed to snow like 25 inches today!”
“Got to love a January blizzard. I'll get some hot chocolate for the road while you finish up here. Met you at my desk."
"See you there," he said, getting back to replugging everything.
When that was finished, he cleaned up his workstation, a breakfast nook-like area in the corner of the Captain's office. He packed up his laptop, mouse, and cassette player with headphones in his computer bag. The last things to do were to clean the coffee mug tea rings off the table and bundle up in his coat, scarf, and gloves.
He waited a few minutes before ignoring Arrin's instructions and met him in the officer lounge. The screaming of the kettle hid the sound of the door but the screen attaching the hanging cabinets to the peninsula below blocked Arrin’s view from the first third of the room.
Even if the screen was gone, Arrin had his head deep in a lower cupboard trying to find Arik’s reusable coffee cups. As he raised and turned his head, a cacophony of cups and lips bounced on the floor. “Dad!” His heavy breath switched to a scowl. “Dad!”
“Let me help you.” He smiled, taking the kettle off the heat.
“I’m an adult, dad, I can make two cups of hot chocolate on my own.”
Arik extended to the top of the cabinets, pulling down a red and white Tupperware dish. “But it always tastes better when you do it with someone else," he said opening the dish.
"You hide marshmallows up there."
"Yeah, or Tony would eat them all."
"I have video," he said, opening the drawer to the left of the oven.
"I want to get home sometime tonight."
"That's not happening tonight, boys," a voice behind them said.
"Captain?" Arrin asked.
Captain Mitchell Adams flopped down his hood. "The snow's past my knees in the parking lot and no amount of shoveling is going to fix that until the plows come in the morning."
"Want a cup, Mitchell?" Arik asked, picking up an "I'm holding a cup of coffee, so yeah I'm busy" coffee mug from the counter.
"Please. No marshmallows."
"Killjoy," Arik whispered under his breath.
Arrin slapped Arik's arm.
"I have to fill out some forms for this. Did you fix my computer?"
"Hope so," he said, handing Mitchell his mug.
Mitchell started for the door before a spark ignited. “Arrin, I might need you to sign something. Come to my office when you’re done here.”
“Right away, Captain,” He said as Mitchell left.
“You probably call him Mitchell,” he said, pouring the kettle. “He’s a chill guy.”
“He’s my boss.”
“So?” he asked, stirring the cup. “Can you start adding marshmallows?”
Arrin grabbing the dish and keep plopping down marshmallows as he said, “Normal people don’t call their bosses by their first name
“Normal people want marshmallows with their hot chocolate not hot chocolate with their marshmallows.” He shook some drink from his hand.
“Sorry, dad.” He put the dish away.
“We already figured out I’m not normal.” He took the larger mound of marshmallows and tried to shove the lid on with the least amount of casualties. “You clean this up and I’ll put what’s left of my marshmallows away.”
With the easier job, Arik was the first back to the Captain’s office with the time to de-winterize. He got lost in his computer screen as Arrin knocked on the door.
“Come in, Arrin!” Mitchell yelled from the printer.
He peeked his head in. “Do you need me?”
“Just your John Hancock,” he said, placing a paper and a pen on the table near Arik's laptop.
Arrin slipped forward as if entering the principal's office.
Mitchell glided away as nothing happened. He went to his desk digging into his bottom right-hand drawer. "I need to see how many people are stuck here tonight. Here's a radio if the lines go out," he said, setting down a walkie talkie for Arik.
"Do you want help?" Arrin asked.
"No, I have a bigger job for you." Mitchell leaned in, and whispered, "make sure he doesn't hack anything he's not supposed to."
"I try, Captain," he whispered back.
"All I ask," he whispered. "Man the fort, Officer Krieger!" he announced, closing the door.
Arrin finished his paperwork and sat in silence. His eyes bobbed like buoys. But right as they shut, a loud noise sent them up like a broken projector screen.
"Holy Cow!" ranged through the room.
"What! What? What are you watching?"
"Tony's police car almost ran into Al's bus. Glad you didn't let me on that."
"Why don't we do something-" he inched down the laptop lid - "other than watching traffic cams."
"What do you suggest?"
"What do you do when you're not working."
"Watch traffic cams. Monitor police search history. Try to hack into Love Computer Security servers." He took a sip of his drink. "Don't look at me like that, Arrin Daniel! They want hackers to try. Troubleshoot if you will."
"How about something we can do together."
"Have you ever been upstairs?"
"It's just storage and stuff."
"No then. Come on, let's take a field trip," he exclaimed, putting his laptop away.
"Is the Cap… Mitchell okay with this?"
"Would I have keys-."
"Grandma taught you how to pickpocket."
"She also taught me lying to love one's is the worst thing you could do."
"Did Cap give his okay?"
"Ask him yourself," he said, handing him the radio. "Mom sure gave you her lawyer genes."
"Yes. Yes, she did." he lifted the walkie to his face. "Hey, Captain-?"
"Can you imagine the arson squad being a whole floor? It's barely four officers now."
"They caught the most notorious arsonist and threw the book at him. They scared the firebugs to Philadelphia."
"What makes you say that?" he laughed.
"Their arson statistic. Uncle Caleb always complained about that when we went to go see Steven and Beverly."
A loud pop took over the space. As it left, it took the light with it.
Arrin took the flashlight from his duty belt. “The darn blizzard must have blown the breaker. Dad?” He shone his light around. “Dad?! Da~” the last was muffled by a leather-gloved hand.
“Where’s your gun, boyo?” the hushed voice asked, taking his hand from Arrin’s mouth but pressing his forearm into his windpipe.
“Belt.” He could only muster a whisper.
“Move!” he ordered, releasing his arm. “Not too fast now.”
When Arrin didn’t move, the man shoved the confiscated gun into his ribs and cocked it. “Now!”
Wobbling in the dark, they made it down three flights of stairs to the Captain’s office. Once in the door, the man gave Arrin one last push. Arrin landed hard hands and knees. Eyes squinting due to the bright light coming from the Captain’s desk.
“Look Mikey, I brought you a wee friend to play with.”
Arrin looked up to see his boss tied to a chair.
“Tie him up!” he ordered his man in the shadows.
“Come on, Patrick, he has nothing to do with this,” he said, pulling on his ropes as Arrin twisted and turned in the arms of the mega-monster.
“Feck that, Mikey. He’s one of your lads and he’s not arsewaying with mine.”
“What would you want here?”
“What would you have that I would want, Eejit!” He spat in his face. “It’s not what, it’s who!”
Mitchell closed his eyes. “Arik.”
“Aye,” he said, taking the knob of the still opened door. “And don’t worry, I’ll make sure to find him and this wean’s father.”
He closed the door with an intimidating bang. The jiggle of the lock sent shockwaves through Arrin's once concrete expression.
"How do you know this guy, Captain?" Arrin stuttered.
"He was a friend."
"Yeah, before I joined the force as my father had and he joined the Irish mob as his had."
"He couldn't be working for them now. They wouldn't risk breaking the truce."
"No, they wouldn't. They didn't when they cut him loose 15 years ago."
"That explains why he doesn't know Arik's-."
"Quiet Arrin!" He drew the attention of their monster of a babysitter. "Don't show all of our cards yet. He evaded us for four years: he'll be fine."
When the breaker was pulled, Arik tripped over his own two feet. When he tried to catch himself, he fell even more through a door he had locked but hadn’t gotten all the way shut.
His head was spinning when Arrin called out the first two times. And he was seconds away from responding to the third when another voice rang out.
He scrambled to his feet, shaky like a baby’s first walk. At the door, he saw Arrin’s light flailing around. For a brief second, he saw a pair of police issued boots maintained in military form - Arrin’s shoes - and a pair of dress shoes, tattered and soles dwindling into paper sheets. For another, a glint and shiny off the man’s waist from a holster and a gun of his own.
When the man released Arrin, the light bounced once more, getting dangerously close to Arik’s hiding place. He closed his door as fast as he dared to remain hidden and unheard. One man plus two guns doesn’t equal a good outcome for two without.
The Princeton graduate in him saw the logic in it: retreat and live to fight another day. The father in him would rather have the pain of a gunshot than the pain of watching a madman that broke into a police station and who now possesses two guns cart his son away.
Arik kicked the nearest piece of furniture when Arrin’s light vanished. It was an old but hard pedestal desk. The shockwaves of his kick sent the top right drawer rolling on its glides with a metallic clang at the end.
He ran his hand along the bottom until his fingers touched something smooth and cold. He picked it up and ran his fingers over it until they flipped open the lid and spun the flint wheel.
Arik could see his hand and a bit of the room around him but what gave him a smirk was on the lighter. The stick on it was a campaign logo from the 1960s for Ken Kremer, his great grandfather. He didn’t win, in fact, he was arrested three days before the election for bribing poll workers.
With the light of the past, he looked back out the hall. No lights insight. He needed a quick light inside to fix this problem.
Backstairs First. He oozed out of the room. The light shimmied in his hand. He stayed along the left wall as he headed towards the back of the building. His fingers graced the lever knob when he heard voices on the other side.
He closed the lighter. He couldn’t move until he saw the flashlights turned towards the door. Door hinges on the right. He lurched to the right of the door where the door would fly.
As the door opened, one of the men said, “We’re looking for two men, one mid-twenties, other forties, both caucasian, first alive, the other no preference.”
“I have a preference,” the other man said, brandishing his weapon.
“Careful where you point that.”
With them a safe distance away, Arik sneaked into the stairwell. He went down a few steps and looked over the side, making sure no lights were below or above him. Okay now, what?
“First floor cleared, O'Connell.” After getting confirmation, Arrin gave Arik the walkie since he already had one on his belt.
“Take your post at the West Stairwell, Bishop,” said O'Connell, who Arik could only presume could be the boss.
Arik spun the lighter in his hand, with a smile growing.
He galloped down the stairs only stopping at the bottom. Two shadows lined the frosted-glass window of the door. It was only a momentary pause, he wasn’t planning on going through the door anyway.
He closed the lighter and reached up for the vent that he keeps loosened so he doesn’t have to interact with anyone. He had to step on the railing to get all the way up. As he laid on his belly barely able to lift his head fully, he thought I should have taken the stupid bus! Now, which way?
He army-crawled a ways. He knew he was on the right track when he came to a vent looking into the men’s restroom. Only two more lefts. He pushed on until he came to the captain’s office.
When he looked inside, he saw Mitchell and Arrin tied to chairs on the opposite side of Mitchell’s desk. Something moved in the shadows in the far corner, along the wall with his bench. Everything was quiet until a man barged in.
“My lads have searched this building top to bottom. How can they hide?”
“You should ask them, Patrick,” Mitchell smirked.
He gave him a nob and a grin before pistol-whipping him. “I’ll ask again-,” he cocked it in his face - “where can they hide?!”
Mitchell just stared into the windows of Patrick’s soul.
“Fine.” He stepped to the right, facing Arrin. He tapped his badge and said, “Maybe you can help me, Officer-.” He stopped as he read Arrin’s last name.
He ripped the badge from Arrin’s uniform. “There’s not two.” He threw the badge down. “There’s not two!” He ran out of the room.
He pulled his walkie out. “Lads your night just got easier. You’re looking for one man. He’s just a computer lackey.”
All of his teams responded with some form of “copy that’.
His face was red and his teeth gritted as he tried to get his walkie back on his belt.
“Patrick O’Connell. Come in Patrick O’Connell,” Arik said.
“Who is this?”
“I’ve heard you’ve been looking for me.”
“Yeah and I’m not too happy with that lackey remark. Why don’t you come to the officer lounge and we can talk it over.”
Patrick’s expression perked up. “I would love that.”
This time the walkie went on on the first try. He marched down the hall, in a flash. He wretched the doorknob like a dog with his ball.
No one was in sight. “You still hiding, boy?!”
The lights in the room shuddered on.
“I’m right here.” He stood far back in the room.
“There’s another breaker in here?”
“Yeah, but don’t be mad. They didn’t include it in the public plans for occasions like this. Come here, we can have that talk.” He disappeared behind the cooking area.
“Don’t get me wrong,-” he started forward - “I meant no harm with that statement. I’m doing all of this because of your computer skills. I can promise you if you come with me now I won’t hurt anyone. What do you say?”
He rounded the corner. Arik was standing there with a bucket. “I think not.” He hurled the contents at Patrick and started the flame on the lighter.
“What do you think you’re doing? I can smell it’s not petrol.”
“No. But it’s cleaning supplies. Just as flammable.”
“Let’s talk about.” He raised his hand.
“I ain’t going with you and you’re not hurting my family. What is there to talk about?”
“You haven’t heard what I want you to do.”
“Nothing good can come from this. If you wanted something good, you would have asked. Not this.”
“True.” he lowered his hand partially. “What else is true is you won’t drop that.” He lowered them more heading towards his belt. “You couldn’t hurt the man who killed your wife. You won’t hurt me.”
“You think so.” He pretended to drop, getting Patrick’s hand back up. “I won’t make the same mistake with my son.” He dropped it for real.
Patrick lurched back, tripping, hiding his head.
The substance Arik threw didn’t catch on fire like he said. “Too bad you can’t call a bluff,” he said, pulling a pair of handcuffs from his back pocket.
He scrooched down next to the unconscious Patrick. He pulled up one of Patrick's arms, cuffed it, pulled the chain around an exposed pipe across from the counter, and cuffed the other wrist.
With one down, Arik got up to deal with the next one on his list. He walked down to the Captain’s Office, stopping a bit short of the door. He reached in his other rear pocket, pulling out his phone. He clicked the screen and all the lights on this floor turned on.
Cries of pain rang out from the office.
Arik ran in. Arrin and Mitchel were fine as they were sitting closer to the lantern on Mitchell’s desk. On the other hand, the man in the corner was bent over like he got hit between the legs.
Arik quickly took him the rest of the way down and handcuffed him to the old radiator.
“You two, slacking off at a time like this,” he laughed.
“Just untie us, dad.”
“Fine.” He started on Arrin’s ropes.
“Where’s Patrick?” Mitchell asked, his voice tough but eyes filled with a glint of care.
“Cuffed in the lounge. That was the guy you were going to marry, wasn’t?" he asked, untying Mitchell, getting a wide-eyed expression from Arrin.
"Only a fleeting whim."
"You and Lindsey are a much better match anyway. Your Law and he's order."