Adventure Mystery Suspense

     A crowd began to grow. Angry voices were yelling as they passed by their place heading towards the hub of the fracas. People were now demanding answers, in response to a bullhorn shouting orders to cease and desist. A group of police were attempting to maintain order, as other policemen started to filter through the area and into nearby buildings. Pretty soon they’d be at their door. Dylan started swearing, and told Terf that a television crew, with lights, and cameras were at the bridge.

     “We gotta go. We gotta go NOW!”

     He motioned for Terf to follow. In the dressing room a.k.a. bungalow, Dylan slid his hand along the side of the bookcase. To the untrained eye, it looked like just another prop in a roomful of random unrelated items. With a touch of a button, part of the wall slid opened. It was the secret door and there was just enough space for one, maybe two.to squeeze through. The two slipped into this passageway, and closed it up ever so discretely. It was pitch dark, but Dyl pulled out a small flashlight and told his friend to do exactly as he did and to trust him in their method of escape. They squeezed together as there was only barely enough room for two. Beneath their feet, was what appeared to be, a wooden platform. Dyl motioned for Terf to step off and a latch sprung the cover open. Down the hole was a type of fireman’s pole.

     “Trust me.” It was a do or die moment but nothing that they hadn’t been thrown into before, in the dog days of war. Terf nodded.

     “We have to get to the bottom. It’ll be about three stories, so about 30 feet. You good?”

     “Just get us out of this nightmare,” Terf breathed deep, and blew out a great gust of air. “Yeah. I’m good.”

     Dyl grasped the flashlight between his teeth, grabbed ahold of the pole, and with arms and legs wrapped around, his feet guiding the descent, he cascaded through the opening and into the depths of the unknown.

     Terf watched as the light grew faint and then suddenly stop. Now it was his turn. He copied what he saw, wrapped arms and legs around the pole, and slid to the dirt bottom. He didn’t anticipate the speed and landed hard. Swearing, he got to his knees, stood gingerly and dusted himself off.

     “Okay, this is not your average closet, so now, will you tell me, what the heck this is used for, and why?” He looked at etched walls neatly crafted with a purpose.

     “Before we get into all that, let’s get down the rest of the way.” He lit the way for Terf to follow as they went down an arched walkway then arrived at another cover. But this was waist high against a wall. Opening the door showed a dumb waiter, but instead of food, this one was able to hold a person. Granted, one would have to be nimble and be able to crouch down to fit. No problem here.

     “Really?” Terf said. “You got so many tricks up your sleeve I don’t know what to say. The things I never knew about you Pickleman. Where to now?”

     “Okay, T-Smurf. You got me on that one. I do history big time when I’m not playing with props. I got myself into a college class and dug into the 19th and 20th century especially times in this country like the depression era, and the booze-making behind the scenes during prohibition, etc., etc.” Dyl finally stopped the chatter since time was not what they had now.

     “Hey! I can talk about it all later, but we got to get our butts outta here, pronto. This ain’t gonna be pretty if we get caught. They could literally keep us down here forever and no one would know.” Dyl pulled open the door and raised it in place. He wedged himself in and told Terf to make sure he closed the door when he got in. “Grab the rope, like this,” and he demonstrated how to hold it, and how to let it slide. “Don’t rush, it’ll work fine. See you in a few. Don’t forget to pull it back up and wrap it here,” he said pointing to a post, “before you let it loose or it may end up knocking me out down there.” And he was gone into the darkness again.

     Terf knew he just had to go and not waiver. This whole ordeal was really a nightmare in the making. Pulling the rope back, tying it off, he scrunched himself into the box-like chute then gently undid the line and hand over hand lowered himself into the dark.

     Dyl helped his buddy out of the contraption. “So, is this getting a gold star review? You would not have thought your ol’ pal had any sense of back street surprises and a unique way of getting out of the limelight, right?”

     “Dyl, I can’t thank you enough. You’re right, who would have thought? And then again, who would think I’d find myself in the middle of something that I haven’t quite figured out what, yet. It’s ugly, man. Real ugly. There’s some nasty shit going on and I stepped in a load of crap. I can’t show my face here, ever, because that’s the end. I know it and you know it.”

     “Alright let’s go. It’ll be crazy dark for a while but then you’ll see the light. Someone had this figured out a long time ago.” Dyl held the flashlight above so they could get down the narrow passageway. Turning left then right and on like this through a maze of sorts until they met a glimmer of light above. The pattern it created was an interesting reflection and Terf was engrossed in the artful way it showed on the walls around them.

     “What is this?” he paused with Dyl in the spattered pool of light surrounding them.

     “You’re not gonna believe me but I’ll tell you. It’s the St. Bartolome’s Catholic Church basement of sorts. We’re under the front hall and street side. We’ve walked maybe about a quarter mile. Surprised, right?” Dyl chuckled at the look on Terf’s face.

     “This is like a game, right? And we’re like the chess pieces. So, I’ll be one of the knights and never the hell EVER again be a pawn!” He had to laugh at his own joke.

     “You got that right, Terf!” Dyl had to agree, given his friend’s dire predicament. He looked around for the way out. Not having been through to the end before now, he was not sure of the rest of it. This was the end of the tunnel, but they needed to find the way up. He told Terf to scan the walls for any evidence of a switch, a door, a latch, whatever. It took them a few minutes but Dyl called out, “Aha!” Terf went to see what he found, and it looked like a finger hold carved into the side of a wall. He grabbed ahold and slid it open to reveal a circular staircase. “Hey! I won the “get us the hell outta here” lucky pick!”

     Terf looked upward and grew dizzy at the number of steps they would need to climb. “You go first, buddy. I’m getting woozy just thinking about this curvy thing.”

     “One step at a time, and we’ll be good. You okay with that?”

     “Sure,” Terf said, yet not so sure.

     “Just keep ahold of my shoulder, and we’ll be alright.” Slowly and with some effort they climbed up and around each step knowing the end to this nonsense was near. It took a while, as at one turn Terf took a stumble, and fell to a knee. Dyl quickly threw back his arm and grabbed the front of Terf’s shirt and held on. Breathing with a little fear, Terf said he was okay. They proceeded to the top and met a door with the same imbedded fingerhold glide to open. Dyl paused to listen to any sounds.

     “I think we’re good.”

     “You sure?”

     “Trust me buddy, as you’ve done so far.”

     The secret door slid open to daylight, and the foyer in the entrance of the church was right in front of them. Gingerly, they exited their hideaway, slid the door closed, and stealthily looking around. They didn’t need for any priest or whomever to mistake them for vagrants or undesirables, even though this was a church of God and everyone has sanctuary. Now what?

     “Okay, let’s act like we come here often and try not to appear like we’ve just escaped prison, since that’s somehow what it feels like,” Dyl whispered to Terf.

     Looking at the front of his shirt, Terf said “Well, we do look like we’ve been playing in the mud. They paused for a moment, knowing this slight detail may go noticed by ones not needing to know. Dyl scanned the area, and saw a stack of bookcases. He grabbed one, and if he was stopped, he’d make up a story about just doing his job taking these to fix some minor repairs. They were near the front door when the open coat closet caught Terf’s eye and he quickly went in grabbed a sweatshirt and put it on hiding any evidence.

     As they exited the church, and hurried down the sidewalk, an older man heading towards them, brushed past Dyl, then stopped. “Hey! Are those some of the bookcases from the church and Fr. Tom’s office? Where are you going with them?”

     Dyl dreamed up a quick answer. He paused and with a cheery voice said, “Oh, hello!” You must be the one I needed to see about these. It was suggested that I refinish them first before they were put in place. I have a shop not far from here and was taking them to get right on it. Wouldn’t want these to be unpolished for the folks to see.”

     The man looked puzzled and said, “Well, no one told me there was anything wrong with them. They were donated but if it was felt that they needed to be refinished then by all means go ahead.” He looked at the two of them and suddenly he raised his eyebrows.

     “Wait! Do I know you? Have you come here before? You two look very familiar. This doesn’t seem to be a coincidence.” He stood in their way and they needed to somehow get passed him without seeming rude.

     Dyl spoke once again in a cheery tone, “Well, if you’ll excuse us, we need to get going. Don’t want to keep Father Tom waiting too long for these so he can get his office back in order.”

     Dyl and Terf moved and hurried by him. He suddenly called after them, “Wait! I know where I saw you. Your picture, this morning, was on the news. Something about a murder down by the river.” He turned towards them, but they kept walking. “What did you two do?” The man started after them as they began to run. “Hey! Come back here! I’m calling the cops!” He couldn’t keep up and turned to go back to the church.

     It was still early, so hopefully they weren’t seen by anyone or heard the commotion the old man created. The two kept on and when they found the nearest alleyway, walked purposely down to the end, and left the bookcases. Then, with quick look around, crossed the street, found the next alley and hurried down and away from the scene.

     When they were far enough away from the entrance to the church, the two stopped to get a grip on what just happened.

     “Okay, Terf. We are now in over our heads.” Dyl put his heads over his head, walked around and then threw his arms out. “Argh!” He yelled a moment and took a deep breath.

     Terf leaned up against a nearby brick building and was very angry with himself for putting his friend in the middle of something he still did not know exactly what. They were on the news? What was reported and by whom? The commotion that went on last night leading them here, seemed calm. There was no more helicopter action, the police presence was gone, and people seemed to just go back to whatever they were doing before it all.

     “Hey, Dyl. This is just so wrong. I have put you in the middle of, god knows what. You don’t deserve this and if you want to turn and walk away, I’m good with that.”

     “You are not to blame, big guy. Someone and something has gone so far wrong, it’s gotten out of hand. I’m here with you. We gotta make right with this city and the scum that has pushed their way to the top of the tower. We the people… as the Constitution is written. Well, WE ARE THE PEOPLE.”

     Dyl spoke right into Terf’s face to make him believe in himself and that he did nothing wrong. They both agreed of the need to lay low and to figure out a plan. They were not fools by a long shot but Army diehards, not only back in the jungles of Cambodia and Laos when sometimes there lacked adequate food, water, ammunition, you name it, but right here and right now.

May 28, 2021 17:44

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