I hit the garage door opener and started to pull my car into the stall. Damn, there was a metal lawn chair in the way. I got out of the car to move it. This puzzled me for I knew I hadn't put it there. Then I saw what looked like the heel to a woman's shoe under it. It was a high heel with some glitter on it. This gave me pause and I stood there looking at it before picking it up and turning it over in my hand. Where in hell had that come from and why was the chair where it was.
My garage was a three car and except where I parked mine, it was full of stuff I stored for my parents. Some had been there as long as five years since they had moved out of the area. I moved the chair and slipped the broken heel into my jacket pocket. Pulling my car in, I sat there thinking. I came up with the idea that someone had been or was using my garage to hide in. It had to be a woman. A woman that wore expensive shoes. Then why would this be a person that had to hide? Running from the law, maybe?
It came to me then something I had seen on the late night news last night. A woman was missing from her home and had been for three days. The home she was missing from was about a mile away from mine. Blood had been found and foul play was suspected. This was reported by a step-brother and he was greatly concerned for her well-being. The woman was twenty-two-years-old and had led a sheltered life according to reports. A picture had flashed during the newscast. She was a nice looking woman and would be noticed even in a crowd.
The only reason I had taken note was because the address was so close to my own. The small door of my garage wasn't locked so anyone could have gained entry. Thinking all of this time, I slid out of the car and closed the garage door. I suspected that the woman was still in the garage behind some of the furniture. I locked the small door this time and went into the house. Should I report this to the authorities? I should. That would be the sensible thing to do.
If the woman were still there, she would be hungry and thirsty. I flipped a burger into a skillet and got a yogurt and a bottle of water out of the fridge. When the burger was done, I put it into a bun with catsup. Carrying everything back to the garage, I put it onto the righted chair and speaking out loud, I said, "I left you some food and water. I'll leave the door unlocked to both the garage and my kitchen. When it gets dark you can come in and maybe you can tell me your story. I'm not going to call anyone and report your presence until tomorrow. I might not even do that if you convince me there is no need." I turned and left.
An hour later and just barely dark, this woman stood in the doorway. "What do I have to do to keep you from telling anyone where I am?"
She wasn't what you would say glamorous, especially as she had been hiding out. That was today and it wasn't the best for her. She could be attractive otherwise. She certainly had the shape for it, being fairly tall and thin. She had what made you know she was a woman though. "All I ask is for you to tell me your story. You do that and then I'll decide what I think is best for you. I'm not going to be harboring a fugitive."
"I ran away, but there is nothing that I can be charged with. I've done nothing wrong."
"So tell me. I'm not inclined to cause a person trouble."
"Okay, but first I want to thank you for the food and water. I was going to have to go out looking for some if you hadn't brought it to me. It was delicious."
"I'm waiting. Why don't we go into the living room where we can be more comfortable? The shades are closed and no one can see you. I don't expect any company tonight, so you will be safe enough." I watched as she hobbled in after I had sat down. "Give me your broken shoe. I'll repair it as you are telling me about yourself." I went back into the kitchen and got the heel and some tools. I pulled up the innersole of the shoe and after putting a liberal amount of glue on both the shoe and the heel, I pounded a sizeable nail down into the heel. I countersunk the head and then put the innersole back over it. I handed it back to the woman.
"There, Miss Thomas. That should keep you from having to hobble. You might want to wait for the glue to set up before walking on it. It will be dry before morning."
"I thought you were helping and you did that so I wouldn't run away from you, didn't you?"
"It might look that way, but I told you earlier that I wouldn't tell anyone you were here until tomorrow morning. If you don't trust me, you should start running now. The shoe should hold you for a little way."
I was being stared at as we got away from shoes and running. "How did you know my name?"
"Your image has been all over the television. It described how you were dressed. By the way, where did the blood they talked about come from?"
She held up her left hand. "I cut my finger paring an apple. When I saw all of the blood, I decided I would cause my stepbrother some grief. I went out through a side door leaving blood everywhere I could. When I got out to the cars though, I couldn't find a key for any of them so I started walking. I have been in your garage since about three hours after I left home."
"I guess I can believe that. But that doesn't explain why you felt you had to run away."
"It is a power thing and concerns what was my father's business. Both my parents are dead. My mother died first and Dad married a woman named Phyllis Bronson. My stepmother isn't too bad, but my stepbrother, Henry, wants control of the business. Dad died a few months ago and left the majority of the shares to me on my twenty-third birthday. Since that time Henry has tried every way he could to get me to turn the business over to him. At first he tried sweet talking me. That didn't work so lately he has been making threats." When Cindy said this she didn't look at me. I would remember this later.
"Who actually owns the business?"
"I do just as soon as it goes through probate. It is coming to me anyway with full control as soon as I reach the age of twenty-three. Dad thought he would live that long even though he hasn't been well. He died suddenly which has left everything up in the air."
"Your stepmother doesn't inherit?"
"No there was a prenuptial agreement..."
"How old is your stepbrother?"
"He is twenty-eight. The reason he feels he has some rights is because he was vice president under my father. Dad did trust him in the months before he died, but he left the business to me."
"What kind of business is it?"
"It is a wholesale electronics business. It was started by my grandfather. Just as soon as Henry has control, he plans to parcel it out and sell off all of the assets. That includes the inventory, the rolling stock and the real estate. It would make him well-to-do. He has no idea of continuing the business." Agai I felt she was holdings something back.
"If you sold it, then wouldn't you be a rich woman, the same as him?"
"Yes of course, but what about the people that work there? They would lose their jobs. Some have worked there since my grandfather's time."
"So this is a nostalgic decision you are making."
"You could say that I suppose, but it is more than that. It is my whole heritage."
"Is it profitable?"
"It was up until my father died anyway. I haven't been able to see the books since right after he passed away."
"You ran away. You must have some plan. What was it?"
"Are you going to call the authorities? I'm not telling you anything if you are?"
"Let's see, you are hiding out in a stranger's garage. You were hungry and thirsty and the stranger fed you and repaired your shoe so you could continue on your way if you so wish. He said he wouldn't call anyone for another twelve hours or so. You haven't convinced him yet that he should help you or at the very least keep quiet about where you are. You have less than one chance in ten of escaping very far without being caught. My question doesn't seem unreasonable to me."
"Put that way, I guess it doesn't. Okay, I have about seventeen thousand dollars in my bag out in the garage. This is money I have been hiding since my Dad died. I'll pay you to take me some place I won't be recognized. Four months from now I will show up and claim my inheritance. It is as simple as that."
"Wow, sounds like a good plan, but it has some holes in it. What happens if Henry sells off the business in the next four months?"
"That is why I left the way I did, making the authorities think there was a crime and I was abducted or killed. They'll be investigating off and on for a time. That should stop Henry or at least slow him down. That reminds me, could I have a clean bandage for my finger?"
I stared at this person that had come into my life so unexpectedly. Maybe she did have a workable plan. It just needed the small details worked out. As--how to keep her hidden for four months. Maybe I should delve a little deeper. "Do you have anything to back up what you are telling me?"
"Yes, I have some conversations and some threats that were taped. They are hidden as well. If you would get me to some place safe, I will tell you where they are and you can listen to them. Don't think you can take them and go over to my stepbrother either for they are just copies."
"What is in it for me if I help you? Seventeen thousand doesn't seem like very much."
"Oh, mercenary are we? I don't think I trust you now. I think I better leave and take my chances out on the street."
"Don't you think you better know my name before you run off? Yours is Cindy if I remember correctly."
.... There is more of this story ...