Crime Drama Mystery

I was on the last train out of Anchor City. The train car was dirty, overcrowded, and smelled like the inside of a gym locker after a long football game. My job was just getting started. For most, it was just ending. It was around six-thirty in the evening. The train rattled and the windows passed flashing neon signs, lighting up the early winter darkness. I was used to the clamor and scent of the cars. A lot of my days began like this. Most people around me were talking on their blue-tooth phones, or playing on their handheld devices. They were a mix of upper class and lower class people. I held up my newspaper. Most people didn’t take notice of me. I got paid not to be noticed.

Reaching down and unclasping my briefcase, I took out a mirror, put the newspaper in the case, and checked my reflection. Everything looked good. I ran a comb through my short, dark, brown hair and put my gray wool cap back on. I adjusted my blue tie, and put the mirror away. I ran my hands down my light blue button down shirt to get out any wrinkles, same with my gray linen slacks, and did a once over with my black dress shoes to see if there were any scuff marks I needed to buff out. My last girlfriend bought me this tie. She said it made me look more handsome.

The train came to a hissing stop, and I exited. The station was fairly new but made to look old. It had a metal sign overhead which read ‘Welcome to Smithville’. Not many people milled around, as most headed towards the parking lot and their cars. I spotted one taxi waiting for a fare at the curb, and it welcomed me immediately. The cab driver was just old enough to drive. I wondered how much experience he had driving. The only lights out here were from the station, train itself, and the cars in the lot or on the street. I could see no lights from the center of town. I was feeling pretty far from the comforts of home.

“Where to, man?” the youth asked me with a nonchalant tone.

“Do you know where Young’s Crest Road is?” I was almost afraid to ask as it was a very remote location.

“Well, my GPS can get us there,” he started to put the data into his device. “You don’t want to go there. That’s the old hospital.”

“Then, that’s the correct place. Take me there.”

About a good thirty minutes later through dark and winding roads, we made our way to the entrance of an overgrown gate to a derelict hospital. I tipped the young man well, knowing that he did not want to come out here to this place through the woods, on a gloomy night where GPS could go out due to internet reliability. The gate was metal with a good growth of ivy. Though it was locked, there was an intercom at the left of the drive. I pushed the button and waited. A female voice came through the other end.

“Smithville Sanitorium, how may I help you?”

“Ahem,” I held my fraudulent identification out to the pin camera for her to see and said, “my name is Dr. Carter Boatwright, and I’m here as a new doctor. The director should be expecting me.”

“Just one moment please,” just a click then some static a rustling of papers, another click and then, “ah, yes, Dr. Boatwright the gate will open.”

The gate opened with a very audible snapping sound and some grating. I walked up the rest of the way to the door. Someone greeted me and ushered me inside the enormous stone building. It was a very old building built in the late 1800’s but had been remodeled several times. The reception I received was luke-warm, and I was immediately given a tour of the entire facility. Along the way, I looked into each room to see each patient. I tried to see their faces. The tour ended with a sit down in the director’s office.

“I think you will find your stay here comfortable, Dr. Boatwright. But too bad, I see you have not brought your clothing or suitcase.”

“Those are to be shipped. I thought it more practical.” I smiled convincingly. I did not intend to stay long. I looked hard at the director.

“Then, we will get you some medical scrubs and doctor’s coats straight away until they arrive.”

I thanked him, and we parted. I did not sleep easily that night in my own chamber. The wailing from cells beyond mine kept me awake. I was no doctor, and this was not the nightly sounds from the city streets. No, I much preferred the wailing sounds of the sirens from the police and fire, the occasional gun match, and gang fights. The hollow sounds of the halls and echoing footsteps did not settle me into sleep that night.

The next day I set to work straight away. I had to be sure the director would be distracted long enough for me to look in his filing cabinet. The director was a corpulent man, so I knew that eating would be a distraction. I waited until he was at breakfast. I looked about his office. Luckily, there were no guards in sight. The filing cabinet was locked. I took out a few of my tools of the trade and began to pick the lock. I worked as quickly as I could. I heard footsteps. I managed to unlock the cabinet, but I could not open the cabinet.

I dashed under the desk. Mr. Malone walked heavily into the office. He was short and round. He had on a red vest, dress pants, and wore his hair slicked back greasily. He went to pull out his desk chair to sit when his phone rang. I overheard the conversation as he paced the floor. It was something about moving the girl in three days, and the traders would be there soon. I knew he was talking about the same girl that I needed. Sweat started to trickle slightly down the back of my neck. My instincts had been right.

‘Or was I right?’ I wondered. ‘Perhaps there was more than one girl.’ I waited for him to leave the room again. This time I hurried to the cabinet and found her name. Bates, Yasmin Room 117. She was diagnosed with behavior disorder. I had found her, but now I had to get her out.

I asked that I be brought to Ms. Bates’ chambers to assist in her therapy. Everything was under camera, but only in the hall. I took out a letter from her father which had stated that I was sent to find her after she had been kidnapped. The police could not find her after which the family had hired me. It was tough going but I had traced her all the way to here. Mr. Malone was good but not that good at hiding his trail. I held the letter out to her and put my finger to my lips with the hushing pattern. I continued to speak to her as though I were her doctor while she read. I watched as her eyes grew wide. She nodded and handed the letter back to me. She responded in kind to my phony conversation. We held up a good ruse for the microphone on the hallway camera. I concluded the session.

Security would not let me leave to go into town alone the next day. I had them convinced my luggage was arriving. (Luggage that was never sent or coming.) I had to get out of the hospital to make the call to the FBI. It wasn’t safe here. As soon as the guards began arguing about whether or not it should be me or an orderly going to get my luggage, I knew my game was over. Some were certainly in on the alliance.

It was now or never. I had to create a diversion. I was not going to get approval. I told them that I understood. I acted as though I was going back to my chambers and hit the switch on a fire emergency panel. Sirens, strobe lights began, and doors to all the patient chambers auto unlocked. Yasmin ran out into the hallway and a guard saw her. He ran out with a stun gun in hand. I yanked her hand, and we fled through an emergency exit before the guard could get to either one of us. He yelled out, but his yell for backup was drowned out by the sirens.

We made it to the side of the building when a few shots rang out and the sound of dogs could be heard. That bastard had dogs. We would never make it to town on foot. I looked around and there was an outbuilding with one patient bus. We ran to the bus with one guard in tow. I saw no key. I hot wired the bus. The guard was on the back bumper. I revved it up so that I was able to slam it into the gate and get through but not without damaging the vehicle. The guard opened the back of the bus began to come through. The bus was not moving. We had to get out but at least we were out of the confines of the grounds. We had to keep going lest the dogs find us.

It was difficult to remember anything from two nights prior because I came through darkened roads. But, we kept to the road until I heard water. I knew that water would make the dogs loose scent. The water was a good way down a small ravine off the side of the road, but it would be worth it to make the dogs lose our trail. We tried to climb down the ravine but started to slide. My leg got caught up in ivy, ensnared, and hit a rock. I twisted my ankle in the process. I seethed in pain. The cold water at the bottom of the ravine felt good on my injury. However, I stepped gingerly. The water was not too deep but I held my briefcase with phone above my head so as to not get it wet. Yasmin did good to cross as well. Her legs were somewhat scratched and bleeding by the time we made it to the other side.

We had to keep going further into the forest. I made eye contact with her to reassure her that we were doing well. I would keep my promise, not only to her, but her family. I would get her out of this situation. Looking to the sky, I tried to gauge the direction in which the city proper lay, and using my knowledge of tree and moss growth, I kept going. My stomach growled. I decided to pull out my phone there and see if I could not get service. Nothing came through. We were too deep in the woods. I sighed. I felt so defeated. It was not often, that I failed a case, and I was so determined not to fail this one as well.

Yasmin looked up at me with her big green eyes and her red curly hair. She was pretty. The poor thing was so dirty, cold, and wet now. She only had her thin wet hospital nightgown on, so I took off my trench coat, and put it over her. It sagged on the ground, far too long for her. She was in sock feet which had holes in them now and I could see sticks had torn at them and there were bits of blood at the edges of the holes. I never meant for her escape to be so difficult. The wretch could not have been more than fourteen years old.

“I know you are probably just as tired, hurt, and hungry as I am if not more,” I said to her with a tear in my eye. I was fearful we were lost. “The sun goes down early in the winter, and we must find cell service. Also, I need to make sure the battery in the phone lasts long enough to use. I have friends in the FBI. I wanted to head to the town to get help but there were too many to just let me leave. I was going to call from the town,” I could sense myself rambling from my nerves. “Anyway, I want to say I am sorry. I couldn’t just leave you. I came to get you out of there. There was no other way.”

“It’s…,” there was a really long pause here and I thought she was going to stop talking. “It’s okay. There were a few others in there too with me, like me. They were gonna take them too.” She pouted and sat down on a rock.

I shook my head back and forth. I really had to do something then. I could not let that jerk get away with sullying innocent children. Yasmin listened to my plan. I climbed to the top of the tallest tree I could find. It was difficult and harrowing. I was already hurt. My ankle was throbbing. Each branch made me cringe with pain, from my twisted ankle to my cut up palms. I just kept looking at Yasmin at the bottom of the tree. I had to hold my phone in my mouth. My pants were soaking wet. I had to use my hands for climbing. This shirt had no pockets. I think half way up the tree, I found myself needing to urinate, and I just did as I climbed. I had no shame. I was already wet from the ravine. I was getting cold, and felt myself shaking.

All I could think about was getting to the top and our survival. Near the top, a branch broke and I slipped slightly. My phone fell out of my mouth, but I caught it, and I swung there, holding on by one hand. My heart raced. I heard it pounding in my ears. Sweat ran off my head, and back. I found some footing. I took a deep breath. I dialed 911. The phone rang.

About 15 minutes later, I was still clinging desperately to the top of the tree, hoping that I could keep alive a bit longer. The wind was starting to whip around and I heard the familiar sound of a helicopter. I was so cold. I saw the rope ladder descend. I saw the comforting emblem of the FBI logo on the side of the vehicle. I climbed the ladder and entered the vehicle. The helicopter could not find a clear place to pick up Yasmin. One of the officers on a bullhorn told her to go further north a few paces and directed her. They could land there and get her from the ground. She followed his directions and was safely escorted inside. Once we were both safe, they gave us blankets, and warm drinks. I told the men my story, as did Yasmin. An APB was put out for Mr. Malone with warrants in his name as well as all his men.

In Anchor City, Yasmin happily reunited with her parents, and I got paid a significant sum of money for completing my mission to rescue the girl. I updated my office records, and put her in my closed cases. I kicked my feet up on my desk. Maybe it was time to retire. My damn ankle hurt. I was tired of chasing down people and people chasing me. I had enough now to get my own place beyond the neon lights, beyond Anchor City. I picked up my newspaper from my desk and looked at the properties for sale or lease outside the city limits. I’d give it a week to look for more.

The following week, I had begun to pack all of my belongings from the apartment above the office and the things from the small office into boxes. I took out a newspaper and scrolled through the real estate listings. I found a rather large estate. It was in Smithville no less. I wondered if I wanted to live there. Would it be too traumatic to live out there, after everything I just gone through? But I did want a slower pace. I called the number listed on the posting. The Realtor said that it was an affordable foreclosure. I told her that she could tell me why it was foreclosed, that I was a private eye. She told me she was not supposed to, but I used my persuasion to convince her to and she disclosed that it belonged to a crime lord who is now in federal custody.

What a coincidence? That had to be Mr. Malone’s house. Did I want to live in the same house that evil man lived in? Did I want to touch the things he touched? No, no I could not. But, I did ask her if the property was for sale. She told me that the property was for sale. I was out to see it the very next day.

This time, a different taxi driver picked me up in Smithville. I gave him his fare and bid him wait on me. The Realtor greeted me excitedly, at the house. I asked for no tour. Instead, I went straight to the widow’s peak and stared at the garden. I saw the splendor of the pansies, winter berry, winter aconite, and camellia. I pictured myself and a family nestled against the beauty of the patio. I smiled. I’d stay at the Smithville Inn while I worked on a new house.

I yelled to the Realtor from the pinnacle, “Sold! Find me a contractor.”

April 18, 2021 19:14

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


April Rawlins
19:16 Apr 18, 2021

I realized at the point where my main character is giving his ID I have the wrong tense. Please forgive I edited this like five times and didn't catch that. Updated.


Show 0 replies
15:32 Apr 26, 2021

Excellent description and an engaging story. A small suggestion: When in the first person point of view try removing filter words, like "I heard, I saw, or I realized, I held." For example, in this piece you typed "My heart raced. I heard it pounding in my ears." Which could've been, "My heart pounded through my eardrums." Your storytelling is great, keep up your writing! Have a good day. :)


April Rawlins
15:00 Apr 29, 2021

Thanks so much for the feedback. I'm trying to improve each time I write a new piece. This will really help. I am glad you enjoyed the story.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.