The Citizen

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
He was coming out of a bar when he was attacked by a gunman! What was he supposed to do!? He was half drunk! He had to defend himself somehow! So he decided to stab the guy as hard as he could!....

Submitted: March 18, 2016

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Submitted: March 18, 2016

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The Citizen

 

As he approached the old building, he felt a bit relieved. There was a door, down a short flight of stairs, which was half open –something that could save his life, at least for the timebeing!

He swiftly moved in, closed the door behind him   and began looking  around.

There was a long narrow hallway with three doors on the right and two on the left. A light bulb was burning way back, but the rest of the place was dark. The air stank with toilet stench.

"This will do for now," he told himself. "I can even hide in the stinking shit-house if I have to! It's much better than getting caught or shot by the cops!"

He walked quietly forward checking the doors on his right. The first one was locked and the space behind it was dead quiet. The second door was also sealed but its  knob  somewhat loose. It opened after he tampered with it a little.

The inside was dark. "There may be someone in there," he warned himself. He cautiously pushed the door open a little and listened. There was no sound. He tiptoed in and took a quick look around. Then he heard a noise. It was like a girl's voice saying something. He swiftly turned around and closed the door.

"I think the sound came from here," the girl said, "Someone must've got into the house!"

There was a long pause. Then a man's voice was heard from further away," I don tink so! Maybe…it was Sheila."

Then the door knob was turned. It made a squeaky sound and the entrance gently moved open. The shadow of a girl's face could now be seen from behind the table where he was hiding. She took a close look around the room, sniffed a few times and softly closed the door.

"We've got to keep the front door locked now--landlady or no landlady!" the girl said.

"We got to have an excuse for that," said the man, "She's got a fucking temper!"

The voices gradually faded away and then a door was gently closed. "It must've been the third door at the end of the corridor," he told himself. "Now I know that at least three people live in this crummy place -- two gals and a guy."

He sat on one of the chairs next to the small table, took out his cell-phone and turned on its flashlight.

The room was rather large. There was a bed on one side, with a little stand and a lamp beside it. A small round table stood in the middle of the room surrounded by three chairs. A walk-in closet could be seen at the end of the room, with a small table covered with cooking gadgets on its side. There was a sofa between the bed and the walk-in closet. "It's almost as big as my own bed room!" he thought.

He quietly walked to the sofa and lay down. "Whoever lives in here is probably on the second or the night shift," he thought. "This may give me a little time to figure out what to do!"

He lay back. "Jennifer was right," he told himself. "I should've accepted that stupid job! It would've saved me a lot of trouble!"

 He closed his eyes.

"You've got to be patient, Jim," Jennifer's voice rang in his ears, "It's just a few short years. We can manage!"

"Manage or not manage" said Jim angrily, "I've got to have a better job! I didn't give up my teaching career back home and come all the way here to become a busboy!  I wanted a better life! That's why I came, didn't I!?"

"Yes, I know!" said Jennifer, "Once you get your citizenship problem resolved, I'm sure you will get a far better job!"

There was a pause and then Jennifer added, "But for now, having a crummy job is far better than having none! If you are unemployed, broke and frustrated for too long, you may go crazy enough to grab at any opportunity, even an illegal one, to make up for  your long period of deprivation! Then you may wind up in jail, and lose all your chances to become a citizen!"

"I shouldn't have taken the last few whiskey shots," he told himself, "The fool got himself killed for nothing!"

He touched his jacket pocket to make sure his knife was still there. It gave him a feeling of confidence. He lay back and closed his eyes.

The sound of something scratching the door woke him. He quickly pulled out his knife and waited. The noise, however, did not continue. He gently took out his cell phone and checked the time. Some two hours had passed.

"The guy may show up at any minute now," he thought. " I've got to get out of here!"

He stood up and looked at his cell phone again. "It may be safe for me to leave now!" he thought. "The cops must be gone!" 

He gently got up, opened the room door and looked out. There was no one in the hallway.

He swiftly walked to the exit door and turned its knob. It made a noise but the door didn't open. He tried it again. It still didn't yield.

"The bastard bitch!" he mumbled. "She said they should keep the door locked. I should've known better!"

He walked back and forth for a few minutes. He could hear the man and the woman talk in their room at the end of the hall, but the rest of the area was dead quiet. He tiptoed to their room and listened. Nothing was audible enough. He turned around. The toilet door was open. He walked in and put on the latch…. and waited.

Sometime later he heard the sound of the outside door. Someone was juggling around with it. Then it made a noise and gave in. A minute later, another door was opened and closed.

He waited a couple of more minutes and then softly opened the toilet door and tiptoed out. He did his best not to make any noise but, just before he reached the second room, the door of the first room opened and someone walked out. It was too late for him to turn back.

The man looked up, took a careful look at Jim, frowned for a few seconds and then smiled.
"Hi!" he said in a friendly voice, "Welcome!"

"Thank you," said Jim nodding continuously not knowing what else to do.

The man came closer. He was a bit shorter than Jim. He stopped half way to the toilet and stretched out his hand. "I'm Michael, your next-door neighbor!"

"Nice to meet you," said Jim as they shook hands, "My name is Jim," he said as they shook hands.

"Hey, Jim," the man shouted before he reached the toilet door. "If you wait a second, I've got to tell you a few things about this place!" he said. "Please don't go away!"he added as he stepped into the washroom.

Jim walked slowly to the second room and opened its door. He then stepped in and turned on the light. "I've got no choice!" he thought. "I can't afford having him report me to the police! I've got to take my chances with him or…" he took a quick look around," shut him up the first chance I get!"

He examined the walk-in closet carefully. It was completely empty and full of dust. It was obvious that no one had lived there for some time. He then heard a noise from outside. He quickly took off his jacket and messed up his hair. He then gently opened the door and yawned.

"Hi again," said the man who had called himself Michael. "Come on, let's go to my room!" he said with excitement. "I've put on some coffee. There's a lot I've got to tell you!"

"O.k.," said Jim indifferently. "I haven't got much time, though," he added as he stepped out of the room. "I've got a lot to do here."

"O.k., o.k.," Michael said with excitement, "I'll let you go …when I'm through with you!"  He laughed and then put his left hand around Jim's back and led him towards the first room.

Michael's room was not very different from the other room. It only had a couple more lamps and cleaner furniture and kitchen gadgets.  Michael led him to the sofa and began making coffee.

"Where are you from?" he asked as he was working.

"I 'm a U.S. citizen," said Jim holding his head up.

Michael stared at him for a second, "I know," he said, "I mean …which state?"

"Oh….that!" said Jim," Yes, I'm from California."

"I see," said Michael. "Me too…, but originally I 'm from Mexico. I mean… my dad was born there."

He coughed a bit and smiled again. "Where did you live…before you came here?" he asked.

Jim was beginning to get annoyed. He moved his head upwards. "Somewhere… up the state," he said.

"The coffee will be ready in a second," said Michael as he came closer and sat on one of the chairs. "What I wanted to tell you was about Ms. Simpson!" he looked straight into Jim's eyes and added,"You know, the land-lady!"

"Oh, yah," Jim said nodding repeatedly.

"You may have noticed that she is …very very…greedy," said Michael, "everybody here, including the people who live upstairs, are getting sick and tired of this!"

He got up and began fiddling around with the coffee-maker as he continued, "Every  once in a while  she asks us to increase the rent. Many of the tenants here have left because of that."

He paused for a while and then picked up the coffee pot and began pouring into the two mugs he had placed on the table.

"I've got a piece of pancake here, it's pretty good," he said as he walked to a small ice-box standing in the corner  and took out a plate.

"I bought the ice-box myself," he said, "That mean woman doesn't pay for a damn thing."  He took a sip at his coffee and looked at Jim."How much did she charge you, by the way?" he asked.

"I…I…" said Jim before he finally decided what to say. "I said I can't pay…more than 250 dollars a month…so I don't know how much …she wants me to…pay."

"Well," said the other man. "You see, that's why I asked!" He paused a few seconds and then added, "This stinking dungeon isn't even worth two hundred a month, but she wants us to pay over three hundred bucks for it! I rented it for two hundred a short while back. So right  now… if I want to keep it… I just have to get myself a roommate."

He sipped at his coffee and remained quiet for a while. Then he added, "My advice to you is…to scrap her bid and come and stay with me. In that case, all you have to pay is about 150 a month!" He paused again and then added, "I'll be at work most of the time and…you can have the room all to yourself. The nights I am at home…I can sleep on the sofa… if you wish."

"What a fabulous proposal!" Jim told himself, "I knew I was led into this house for a reason!"

"What," he said after a little while, "what should I do about that room then?" he asked, "Should I just…move out without giving her a notice?"

"Oh, yah," said the other man cheerfully, "I don't see why not! You have not used the room much as yet and … you can just say that you changed your mind!"

"O.k." said Jim trying to conceal his delight.

"Fine!" said the other man. "This will make Rene and Celina very happy too. They have been using that room to entertain their guests every now and then. That's why they have loosened its lock!"

"Who are  Rene…and Celina?" asked Jim curiously.

  • They are our next door neighbors. Like myself, their parents came from other countries, but they were born here and are citizens of the States.
  • And … how long have they been here?
  • Oh, I don't know. They were here when I came. They don't have any children. They just have a little cat called Sheila.

Jim nodded thoughtfully. "I can hide here until I find a place to go. I'll have plenty of time to make my plans," he thought, "I can decide what to do with this guy afterwards!"

"Do you…" said Michael suddenly," want to get your stuff…from the other room, then?"

"No, no," Jim said hurriedly, "I haven't brought them yet. You see…my contract with my last land-lord will end…the day after tomorrow. So I have plenty of time!" Then, noticing a strange look in the other man's eyes, he added, "Of-course I'll pay my share of the rent for this room…as of tomorrow, if that's all right with you!?"

"Oh yah, of-course," said Michael after a short pause. "As of tomorrow, it is!" He then smiled and added, "Then, tonight, you are my honorable guest! So please get up and make yourself comfortable!"

Nodding his head, Jim walked back to the other room, picked up his jacket, made sure his knife was there, and then turned off the lights and closed the door.

"I'm fryin some eggs for dinner," said Michael as Jim arrived. "How would jou like your eggs?"

"Sunnyside up," Jim mumbled as he sat down and took off his shirt.

"It's too damn hot in here," said Michael as he worked on the eggs. "I've told that mother-fucking woman many many times, but she doesn't  give a shit! She doesn't wan o spend a penny on this fucking  joint!"

 He then took off his own shirt and undershirt. "I hope you don't mind this," he mumbled. "After all, we're roommates now… so we have a right to see each other's bare bodies, right?"

"You're damned right!" said Jim.

*****

When he finally lay down on the sofa to sleep, his mind quickly flew to his own apartment a couple of miles away.

"What in the world is Jennifer doing now?" he thought.

They had lived together over ten months and they were almost ready to get married. All he had to do was to make a proposal. He was absolutely sure that she would say 'yes.' The only problem now was the dead body dropped a few blocks away which had by now become police evidence.

"How could I ever prove … that I did it in self-defense!?" he asked himself. "There was no one around, the guy was pointing his gun at me, and I really didn't have any money to give him!"

"You don't have to worry about that at all," said Jennifer suddenly."I'm sure there were some people around who saw what happened, and they can testify …."

The whole place was dead quiet now. The only thing he could hear occasionally was Michael's snoring. He felt there was a heavy stone on his head. "I wish I could choke this damned Chicano to death," he heard himself say, "Then there would be nobody to testify that I was ever in this part of town to-night…!"

He was awake until very late, and when he woke, it was about ten o'clock in the morning. Someone was knocking lightly on the door. Michael had gotten up earlier and was busy making breakfast.

"Hi," he said, "Can you answer the door? I 'm a bit busy here."

He slowly got up and walked to the entrance. "Hi," said a smiling young man standing behind the door.

"What can I do for you?" asked Jim, "Do you wan o talk  to Michael?"

"Well," the man said, "I'm one of your neighbors …across the alley."

"Hi," said Michael now standing behind Jim looking at the man. "What is it that you want?"

"Nothing, really," said the young man. "Your outside door was half open …and I thought maybe I could come in to see you for a minute."

"Come in if you want," said Michael stepping back. "I've made some coffee. You can have a cup with us."

"That's very nice," said the young man softly, going towards the sofa. Jim removed his pillow and his sheets from the sofa so he could sit down.

"So, what's up?" asked Michael as he put the coffee mugs on the table and fetched some bread from his ice box.

"Well," said the young man eagerly, "As I said, I am your neighbor across the alley. My window opens right to the alley above you… and… I can usually see…what's going on ….in this apartment."

"Really!?" asked Michael with surprise looking up and out of the window which partly opened to the street. The shades were left back and they could see everything which was going on above their heads. "Sorry," Michael said looking at Jim and then at the young man. "I guess I forgot to pull the shades last night. Sorry!"

"That's quite all right," said the young man. "I'm not complaining , or anything like that. Actually, to tell you the truth… I enjoyed…it…"

"Enjoyed what?" asked Michael as he began to chew a piece of French toast..

"Well, you see," said the young man, "Like yourselves…I like…men…very much. I saw your handsome bodies… It was wonderful!"

Jim was quite confused. All he could think of now was that there was another witness who could testify in court to have seen him in this part of town …."

Michael, however, was staring at the young man frowning. "What the fuck!" he suddenly said, "You watched our bare bodies and …you enjoyed it!?  You son-of –a –bitch!"

"I'm sorry," said the young man standing up, "I didn't mean to upset you."  He then began moving towards the door, "You see, I'm very much like yourselves…I love men…not women. So I thought …maybe we could be …friends."

"You bastard mother-fucking son-of-a-bitch!" shouted Michael."You thought we were like you …fucking, gay, shit!?"

He moved towards the door to attack the young man but Jim stopped him. "Sorry for the misunderstanding," he said to the young man. "We are not homosexual, you see. He brought me here just last night…and it was hot…so we had to take off our shirts and things. That's all!"

The young man was now moving his head up and down quickly. "It's all right, sir," he said "I meant no harm…you see, I'm like a girl myself. I love men… that way!" he then stepped out of the room and moved to walk away.

"Wait here you mother-fucking moron!" shouted Michael now holding a small gun in his hand.

"Go go  go!" yelled Jim, and the boy ran as fast as he could.

"Why!?" shouted Michael, "Why didn't you let me fuckup that sun-of – a –bitch? You…you…!"

Jim shook his head. "Why should we hurt the poor guy!?" he said casually. "It's not his fault that he is gay! He was born that way! He was made a homosexual just like we were made men…!"

"Where did you get that knife?" Michael suddenly asked with a frown looking down at Jim's hand. 

"Sorry," said Jim. "I guess it was an instinctive reaction! You grabbed your weapon, I grabbed mine! You're lucky I didn't stab you in the chest!"shake

Michael took the knife from him, with a suspicious look on his face, and moved his hand up and down as if he wanted to stab Jim in the chest.  Jim did not move. He then came closer, turned the knife around a few times ant suddenly stuck it into Jim's jacket pocket lying on the table, laughing loudly.

Jim let out a sigh of relief and smiled, but his mind was badly muddled now. His nerves were wrecked and he felt they were fast getting out of his control. "I'd better get out of this place before I cut up this guy too," he thought.

They sat down and Jim asked Michael various questions, trying to kill the time until he left for work. But some hours passed and there was no sign of Michael leaving.

"I thought you told me," Jim finally said, "that you had to go to work this morning!"

"Yeah," said Michael softly, "I am supposed to go to work today…but they have not called me yet…"

  • Don't you have a regular job?

"Yeah!" said Michael, "a sort of!"

Then he admitted that he had recently lost his job and was presently working at some odd jobs one of the neighbors had given him. "The pay is good and the time is short. So it's a nice job," he said. "The only problem is that I hardly ever know when I am working and when I'm not! They must call me each time!" he concluded pointing at his cell-phone on the table.

He then asked about Jim's job.

"I work in a restaurant… making sandwiches…when they are needed and… other things… when they are not..."

"It sounds something like…my job," Michael said smiling. "I guess today is one of the days when …they don't need anything, right!?"

They both laughed.

Time passed very slowly and here was no sign of Michael's boss calling. Finally, after they had eaten some spaghetti for lunch and had both begun to doze, someone knocked on the door. Michael opened it and after a short conversation came back.

"What's up, Michael?" asked Jim, "Any news from your employer?"

"No, I'm afraid not," he answered. "It's our next-door neighbor, Celina."

He stopped and remained silent for a few minutes before he began again, "I am sorry that … I didn't tell you the whole truth! The fact is that … I don't have a job. I lost my last job a while back. I have applied at several places since then but…they have all told me that they would call me, which really means: 'We don't want you – go to hell!'"

"Am I talking to myself?" mumbled Jim.

"Celina and her husband are more or less in the same boat, too," added Michael after another pause, "They used to have a nice house but…the bank took it away from them. Her husband has been out of work for some time. So she…works at home making little hand-made things …like artifacts. They sell well."

"So she gives you her artifacts to sell, right?" asked Jim. 

"More or less," said Michael after a while. "I don't really sell them for her…she has her own customers…I just deliver them … and she pays me five percent of her sale. Her packages are too heavy for her…and her husband has a heart problem. He can't carry them… "

"So you have to go now?" asked Jim.

"Yeah, in a little while," Michael answered nodding.

The time had finally come. It did not matter how long Michael would be gone. All Jim needed was about half an hour or so to change his appearance a little and get far enough from there to get himself lost in the crowd.

As soon as Michael stepped out, Jim began. He first went into the corridor to make sure that the outside door was not locked. He took a quick glance out. Michael was walking away carrying a box on his shoulder. The box seemed heavy enough to make him walk slowly. That would give Jim more time.

He then ran back to the room. He quickly took off his own jacket and put on one of Michael's instead. He put on a cap and rubbed some black shoe polish he found in one of the drawers on his cheeks. He then took a glance at himself in the mirror. He looked somewhat different now. He was ready to go!

He stepped out of the room and then opened the outside door. It was getting quite dark now, and the area looked rather  quiet. There were few cars coming and going, and not many pedestrian in sight. He took a step forward to get out of the building when he noticed a police car approaching. He quickly turned around, went in and closed the door.

When he looked out the door again, however, the police car was parking a short distance away. A few seconds later, three people got out of the car, two in police uniforms and one in civilian clothes. The third one looked very much like the young man who had claimed to be a homosexual.

 He quickly ran back to the second room and went directly into the walk-in closet.

For some minutes, the whole place was quite calm. The only thing he could hear was the meowing of a cat which had somehow entered the room. But then suddenly he heard the sound of gun fire from somewhere very near him. "The bastard has brought the cops right to the window of Michael's room," he thought.

The sound of gun fire was heard again and again and then there were several explosions. The whole place grew quiet for a while and then someone began speaking over a loudspeaker.

"I have no choice," he thought then, "They have most probably surrounded the whole area."

He carefully stepped out of his hiding place and opened the room door. The corridor was dark but he could see the shadows of some people standing near the outside door. They seemed to be armed with sub-machine guns. "Cowards!" he told himself, "They act like I have a full army here or something."

It was quite dark outside and he could not see the people out there. They did not seem to be  regular cops , however. They were wearing black clothes.

He suddenly noticed that the outside door was wide open and that there was no sign of anybody anymore!

"I'm probably having a nightmare!" he told himself with a smile. "Stupid ghosts keep coming and going!"

A second later, however, a number of lights suddenly went on. Then a flood-light shone on the building and there was a big explosion somewhere.

He then heard the sound of machinegun fire and several bigger explosions, and felt a horrible pain somewhere in his body…

*******

When he opened his eyes, he was in a heavily guarded room. The curtains were pulled and a man with a sub-machine gun was standing by the door.

"He is coming to, "a woman's voice said softly.

"Hi," said a middle-aged man in white clothes. "How are you feeling?"

He tried to say something but he couldn't.

"Tell them that he is gaining consciousness," the voice said. "He seems to be doing all right, but he is not in the condition for questioning. Please tell them that!" It stopped and then started again, "He has to be left alone for now! You should step outside too, I believe.  It's better for his health!"

"Yes, sir," a man's voice said. Someone opened the door and walked out.

"Can we tell her about this?" a girl's voice asked.

"I guess it'll be all right. It may even help him recuperate faster."

He heard the sound of the door and the room grew very quiet. He closed his eyes.

"Can you hear me darling," a girl's voice asked.

He opened his eyes. The big, beautiful face of Jennifer was smiling at him from above.

"If you hear me," she said, "please smile! I have to tell you a few things quickly. We don't have much time!"

Jim smiled.

"O.k., then, "said Jenifer hurriedly. "Listen carefully and try to remember everything that I'll tell you!"  She coughed slightly, looked at the outside door and continued, "They think you were abducted by the terrorists. All three of them are dead and there is no one to testify otherwise. You must say exactly that! You can say that they had asked you to work with them or something, and since you refused, they kidnapped you and wanted to kill you. You can say they got you drunk to take you there!"

"What…" Jim forced himself to speak up, "happened….to ….Michael?"

"I don't know any 'Michael' or anyone else! All I know is that there were three terrorists living in that basement. They were planning to explode a large bomb in one of the shopping malls downtown, then shoot down anybody insight, and eventually explode their suicide bombs. But they failed!"

She stopped, coughed a little and then continued, "I had reported you missing and had followed it up personally by distributing your pictures in the area where you always went for drinking. A young man saw one of your photos on the wall and told the police yesterday that he knew where you were kept. The young man came with the cops to help them find you. But the terrorists apparently thought that the police had discovered their hiding place. They exploded the remote-control bomb their buddy was carrying, ahead of time, killing their pal and ruining a few cars. Then they attacked the policemen who had come looking for you, killing a cop and the young man! So the police made a full-scale attack on them; and they exploded their suicide bombs. That's how a part of that building was torn down. We found your messed up body in the basement rubbles. So… if you tell them that you had been abducted, they will most probably believe you!"

She stopped, took a long breath and then added, "But please don't mention anything about some Michael, or about anyone else! You are supposed to have been kidnapped! You had heard something about their plan and they wanted to shut you up! You were not a member of their team. Understand?"

"Yeah," Jim made himself speak up again. "But…what about the man… at the bar?"

"Never mind about that! " said Jennifer. "The guy had apparently attacked someone shortly after you left the bar, and the man stabbed him. A patrol car was passing by at the time and the cops began chasing the stabber.  But the gunman got up just a few seconds later, went into the bar , and began a shooting spree. So the patrol men returned and began a gun fight with him. The guy was eventually shot and arrested."

She stopped, stared at Jim's face with suspicion and then grinned, "If you say the right things, you'll have nothing to worry about. They are not really suspecting you. They just want to see if you can give them more information about the terrorists!"  She paused for a second and then added, "To them, you are some kind of a hero! This may even help you when you want to become a citizen."

She pulled up the bed sheet over him and added," I have to go now. The nurse will be here in a second, and I don't want them to see me talking to you. So, goodbye for now!"

She took a couple of steps towards the door and then turned around. "By the way," she said, "they found the stabber too! He was one of the terrorists who lived in that basement. The knife was in his jacket pocket."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Herman Azadi. All rights reserved.

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