I don't even know where to start...
I called the mechanic around quarter of five to see how much longer my car would be since they closed at six. The phone rang for... a long time. I started to think that I had the time wrong and they'd closed at five. When he finally did answer, he gave me a run around about the car being ready tomorrow. I hung up on him and walked down there. I kept an eye out for my new stalker, but it was raining that obnoxious mist that coats everything and makes most sane people stay in doors.
The police were there... two cop cars sitting in front of __________ talking to a guy in coveralls who looked like he'd been banged up pretty good. I waited until they left before I approached. It turns out the guy'd been carjacked. So all the parts meant for my car? Gone. I called my sister while I was waiting for the mechanic and his courier to get done talking and asked to borrow one of her cars. (They have three). She hemmed and hawed until I offered her money (of course), and then she tried to give me the one with standard. I don't drive stick. The mechanic promised my car would be done by tomorrow evening as I was leaving, but obviously I can't wait that long.
So I'm walking out of the parking lot when the courier shouts, "Hey! That's the guy!"
I look up and who do I see but my new secret stalker. He looked... horrified. Oh, so sorry Mr Secret Stalker... you've been made. The Mechanic and courier gave chase, but I was closer, and they seemed to be in not so good shape. I may have a few extra pounds on me, but there's a lot of muscle underneath it. As I gained on him, he panicked and dashed into the park.
I know the canal, park, and river like the back of my hand. This guy... I was willing to bet he hadn't been around more than a day at the most. I would have noticed him before now, as useless as he was at trailing a person unseen.
I tackled him, slamming him into a gnarled old willow. He didn't go down completely, but I heard something crack... probably his collar bone the way he landed with me on top of him... extra pounds at work folks. It felt good to take some abuse out on someone. Too good. I didn't want to go berserker on the idiot. That wouldn't get me any answers.
Before he could get up fully, I grabbed the back of his head and slammed it into the tree. He was still moving so I did it again... and then a third time for good measure. I sat on his legs trembling and looking around, but no one had followed me into the park, and there was a thunderstorm rumbling over head that was probably keeping most people ignorant of my angry little slip. I could hear sirens though, and there was no way the mechanic missed us running into the park. I slung my umbrella under my arm and started dragging his unconscious body through the trees.
The guy wasn't too big, actually a little shorter than me and with a slight build. I'm surprised he couldn't outrun me, but he smelled strongly of cigarettes. So he may have been his own worse enemy in that regard. Least the chiropractor's been working on my shoulder... oddly enough the same one that Shady complains of; so I was able to drag him down the trail to the Canal Association's pavilion... which I just so happen to have a key for since I clean it for them after parties for a little extra money here and there.
The Pavilion is completely locked down when not in use, to prevent vandalism I guess. It has doors which slide up and a regular door to the kitchen on the side, which is how I enter. I dragged Stalkerman to the kitchen door and unlocked it. One last look around to make sure no one was watching, and I pushed open the door and dragged him inside. He seemed totally out of it, so I left him a moment to get the master key from the closet and unlocked the drawer with the knives.
I don't like weapons. They say if you don't know how to use a weapon, you can do yourself more harm than your enemy. I don't like knives and I don't like guns... I do like swinging a big stick at an enemy... nice honest piece of wood makes me feel grounded. According to my father, there were druids on his side of the family... but he was a pathological liar most of the time.) Right then though, a knife seemed more threatening in close quarters for when Stalkerman woke up. I stuck it in the back of my pants, hoping I didn't end up stabbing myself in the butt (awkward, especially as I still haven't paid my last hospital bill). I dragged him over the stairs to the loft and left him there.
There's an industrial spray hose on the sink. I turned it on and sprayed him till he stirred. When he moaned, I grabbed him by the hair, put the knife to his throat, and said, "Up." Just that... if you're too talky, people don't think you mean business. Learned that from my dad.
He yelped as I grabbed his arm when he moved too slowly... definitely a broken something there. But he got up the stairs. I unlocked the door and pushed him inside before I turned on the light. Of course he collided with the stacked up coolers and screamed when he landed on his bad shoulder. I kind of felt bad, but at the same time... no... this guy just cost me time and money, neither of which I can afford at this point.
I grabbed the extension cords from a box and sat on him to keep him from struggling, not that he was doing more than whimpering over his shoulder. Extension cords don't make the best rope, but I made do. Tied his arms behind him and pulled his legs up in a very awkward position, tying them too, before wrapping another extension cord around his body to keep him from shifting his arms too much and freeing himself. Not that it seemed he could do much with his shoulder dislocated or broken.
Only then did I stop and think about what I was going to do.
And he laughed! He rolled over and sat on his legs and laughed at me.
"Can't do it, can ya? Weak..." He gasped as I kicked him in the shoulder. The bad one.
"You're going to talk, one way or the other. Push me, and I push back. Cooperate, and I let you go."
"Right." He struggled to find a comfortable position that did not strain his shoulder.
"I'm not like you or whoever sent you. I'm not like anyone you've ever met. I keep my word, and I never lie. My honor is my life. It's what makes my life worth living. The fact that I'm better than people like you."
"I won't talk. You wanna talk about life. Mine won't be worth shit if I talk."
"So, run away... "
"And go where?"
"I don't know! Change your name to Bozo and join the frikkin circus for all I care."
"They'll find me. There's no escape."
"Who's they?" He turned his head slightly, shutting up. "How did they find me? Why would they want to?"
He rolled his eyes at me. "You're not exactly discreet, and you've made enemies of the wrong people in the last few months."
"Yeah... operative words being 'last few months.'" I leaned forward, pouring on the charm. This is something I seldom do. I'm an empath. I pick up emotions, but I can also make people feel what I want. It's not ethical, which is why I don't do it except with animals have an empathic intelligence anyway. But considering what kind of people this guy worked for, I figured he was close enough to an animal that I wasn't really breaking my own code of ethics. "Until I stopped biting my tongue about what I could do and what I intended to do, I was completely off their radar, right?"
He nodded reluctantly.
"Look I can help you disappear. It's up to you if you stay that way. You want to not be part of this any more. I can show you a charm to deflect hostility. You believe in magic, don't you?" It looked as if he might cry as he nodded again. I could feel he was hopeful and that wasn't all my doing. He REALLY wanted out of this mess. "All you have to do once I let you go is keep your head down. You're smarter than me, right? Because you would never stick your neck out for a bunch of strangers. That right?"
He looked a little green, as if he thought I might hit him for agreeing that he was smarter, but he nodded again.
"So tell me what I want to know. You help me; I help you. I'll show you the sign and then leave you here for the night. In the morning, I'll take you to a bus depot with money for a one way ticket halfway across the country if that's what you want. All you have to do is tell me what I want to know."
And boy did he spill his guts. I don't know if it was all true, and I won't repeat it here for prying eyes, but at least I know where Shady might be... soon.
I left him in the pavilion and walked to my sister's to pick up her car. Tomorrow morning, I'm going on a stake out.