“Now what are we going to do?” asked Horace. His eyes anxiously searched his brother’s face.
“I don’t know. Let me think!” Jasper said. He began to pace the floor in front of their four captives, his heavy breathing filling the small room.
Kensi and Nell were seated back-to-back on the floor, their mouths taped and their hands tied tightly behind their back. Kensi systematically scanned the room, her dark eyes darting back and forth looking for an escape route. Deeks looked down at Kensi. After working six years alongside this woman, he knew exactly what she was thinking. He quickly shook his head no, pleading with her not to try anything heroic. These guys may be stupid but they were also dangerous, which made for a lethal combination.
There was a sharp knock at the door and both men jumped.
“Laundry!” the female voice called from the other side.
“Did you order laundry, Jasper?” Horace asked fearfully.
“Why the hell would I do that, you moron?” Jasper rolled his eyes in exasperation.
“Will you two idiots open up the door!” a voice cried out in a muted shriek.
“Angela!” The two brothers cried out in unison as Horace raced to open the door. Dressed as a chambermaid, their sister stood in the door way and quickly began dragging two large laundry carts behind her into the room.
“I swear to god, you two are worthless!” Angela moaned and threw two pairs of overalls on the bed. “Please tell me you didn’t forget the plan already?” Angela shook her head in irritation. She promised her mother before she died she would look over her two younger brothers, but having to work with these two was like herding cats. She was wondering if it was too late to take back that promise.
“We only have a few minutes…. put on those uniforms and then get them into the carts,” Angela pointed at the hostages. “We’re going to be taking them down the service elevators and out the back while Candy distracts the security guards in the main room. Do I need to explain it again?”
Jasper and Horace knew better than to answer their older sister as they hurried to slip on their uniforms.
“As for all of you,” Angela turned to face their prisoners and pulled out a small firearm from her uniform’s side pocket. “If any of you make any noise or do anything to escape, I’m not afraid to use this thing. Be good little hostages and you’ll all get out of here in one piece.”
Kensi, Deeks and Nell stared intently at their guards while Eric moaned and mumbled unintelligible words through the tape. He knew coming to Vegas was a bad idea… a very bad idea, and somehow this all had to do with him. Deeks could feel his friend struggling with his emotions. They needed a quick way out of this mess and that wasn’t going to be easy.
“You!” Angela directed her attention to Eric. “Shut up or I’ll make sure your little friend here is silenced for good.” Angela threatened and pushed her gun up against Nell’s head. Nell felt a wave of rage and fury course through her body but could only flash her eyes up in anger at Angela’s threat.
Eric screamed an emphatic “NO!” through the heavy tape covering his mouth and dropped his head to his chest, silent again. The gentle techie would never forgive himself if anything happen to any of them, especially Nell.
“Get them to their feet and start stuffing them into these carts,” Angela ordered her brothers, waving the gun. “The laundry van will be waiting for you at the loading dock next to the kitchen.” She turned again to Jasper and walked deliberately up to the large man. He could feel her hot breath on his face as she leaned in close and looked directly in his eyes.
“I don’t have to tell you how important this job is, right?” Angela spoke quietly but firmly and pulled on the lapel of Jasper’s uniform, bringing his face even closer to hers. “If you screw this up little brother, this will be our last chance to make good. Do we understand each other?”
Jasper swallowed loudly as sweat poured down the sides of his face and then slowly shook his head yes as Angela turned her attention to Horace. The younger man slipped behind his brother and imitated his sibling with a series of nods. He had been on the receiving end of one too many of his sister’s tantrums and knew the best thing to do was to just to agree and get out of the way. She was a formidable woman even on a bad day.
“Take them to the meeting place and we will meet you there. Don’t be late!” Angela patted her brother’s cheek softly and let it rest there a few seconds longer to make a point.
“Come on, let’s move it!” she shouted and watched impatiently as the two men pulled Deeks to his feet first and shoved him and then Eric towards the first cart. They pushed them roughly into the bottom and slammed the top over their heads. They did the same with Kensi and Nell and obediently followed Angela out the door and down the hall to the service elevators and down to the waiting laundry van.
The loading dock was empty. Most of the employees had rushed to take a quick peek at the commotion playing out on the casino floor. Security guards swarmed the center of the room trying franticly to calm their clientele and put a stop to the drama taking place next to the crap tables. Candy was playing her part well, shaking and screaming at the top of her lungs while holding up her bodice tightly to her chest and pointing a finger at the alleged assailant, who was desperately trying to prove his innocence. It was enough of a disturbance to allow the thugs to maneuver the carts to the building’s loading dock out back without anyone around giving them a second glance.
“I think we’re lost,” Horace stated purposely, his eyes scanning the empty road for a sign in the horizon. “I told you we shouldn’t have taken that last exit back there.” He couldn’t help but rub in that last statement. No one ever listens to him. It would serve Jasper right if they got lost, he reasoned.
“Shut up!” Jasper spat. The heavy van rumbled and bounced along the sandy desert road, leaving a trail of dust as it sped along the desolate highway. The sun had set at least twenty miles ago and the sky was turning a warm burnt red as it left streaks of color in the distant horizon.
“Shut up, and make yourself useful. Use the GPS on your phone to find out where we are,” Jasper ordered and looked down at the dashboard. Almost, as if on cue the old van began to hiccup and sputter as it bucked on down the road.
“Crap, we’re almost out of gas too!” He exclaimed. What else could go wrong?! “Angela will kill us!”
“You should have listened to….” Horace stopped short as he caught the look of rage on Jasper’s face. He made his point and smirked.
The view of the road before them was desolate and empty with an occasional rundown shack or dead tree littering the landscape. Jasper saw an old Shell station sign in the distance and prayed they would find a functioning gas pump out in front amid the tumbleweeds and crumbling baked earth beneath them. As the van lurched from side to side it pulled off the main road onto the graveled pavement and came to an abrupt stop. An old adobe trading post stood beside the weathered gas station, its sun-dried bricks faded to the color of the dust that swirled in front of it. The store was most likely the remains of a post that was built along the route traveled by miners hoping to strike it rich during the California gold strike of 1849. The only part left of the original post was the store and a couple of cottages tucked in the back for the occasional traveler passing through. There was an arched passageway connecting the post to a tiny cluster of rooms, each with its own small window to let in the arid desert air.
Jasper stepped down from the van’s cabin and surveyed the terrain. Wind-worn rock formations dotted the barren landscape for as far as the eye could see. Tumbleweeds and dust devils blew lazily across the flat earth. Besides the rustle of a brisk wind, heavy silence filled the air. He looked over at the storefront and could see it was closed for the evening. He was going to have to figure out how to get the pump working if they were going to get back on the road again. Suddenly, he jumped as a shrill ring penetrated the empty stillness. Jasper pulled out his cell phone and read the bright screen.
“Shit! It’s Angela,” he groaned.
“I’ll check on the hostages,” Horace called out through the window as Jasper answered his phone.
“Yeah. We’re on our way Angela, we just stopped to get gas,” Jasper looked over at the old pump wondering if there was an on switch somewhere. “No, we’re not lost,” he answered and cursed silently at the phone. He described their location and the last exit he could remember. “I told you we’re not far. We’ll be there soon!” Jasper punched the off button and fumed. She would make him pay for that later, and he was still talking to himself as he walked over to check out the ancient gas station’s rusted old pump.
Horace stepped between the seats of the cab and squeezed his large frame through the tiny cutout that separated the rear compartment. The brothers had removed their stowaways from the carts before they set off from the casino. Bound and gagged, Deeks, Kensi, Eric and Nell sat huddled together bumping against the large bags of laundry strewn around the truck’s storage compartment as the truck sped away from Las Vegas.
“Just making sure you guys have everything you need,” Horace chuckled. Deeks began to shout through his taped muzzle, his eyes begging for help. Horace walked over to Deeks and tore off the gag.
“What do you want?” he asked as Deeks grimace at the sting of having the tape ripped off his face in one quick tug.
“Look, Horace. I can’t speak for my friends here, but I need to use the restroom pretty soon or you’re going to have one ugly mess to clean up in here.” Deeks pleaded. Horace looked around the truck, not sure what to do with Deeks’ request.
“Come on, buddy. Have a heart,” Deeks begged again. He knew if he could just get on his feet, he might be able to eventually create a big enough diversion to help the others escape. Horace grunted and pulled his army knife out of his pocket and sliced the tape wrapped around Deeks’ ankles. He pulled Deeks up in one swift motion and pushed him forward to the back doors of the van.
“Don’t try anything, you hear? I have my gun pointed at your back. Deeks turned his head and gazed down at Kensi. He gave her a quick nod. Be prepared. Horace pushed down on the latch and Deeks hopped off the van and steadied himself, his eyes trying to adjust to the twilight. Deeks looked around and all hope effectively crumbled. What he knew for sure was they were alone out here in this god-forsaken flat land and the cavalry was definitely not coming to their rescue anytime soon. Horace nudged him from behind with his gun to keep moving. The torrid Vegas heat earlier in the day gave way to the night’s brisk breeze. Deeks shivered and turned his back to the biting night wind and began to walk toward the trading post.
“Where the hell are you going with him?” Jasper yelled, stopping Deeks in his tracks.
“He has to go to the head,” Horace answered back, “He won’t be any problem, will you?” he asked pleasantly, nudging his gun underneath Deeks’ shoulder blade.
“No sir,” Deeks played along.
“We’re out of here as soon as I figure out how to make this pump work, so make it quick,” Jasper snarled.
The shabby men’s room was located along the side of the post and a dim light filled the room as they opened the door. The place had definitely seen its share of unrelenting patrons over the years and boasted just one rusted out stall and a couple of chipped urinals lining the walls. Deeks turned to Horace and held up his bound wrists.
“Do you mind?” Deeks asked as held up his hands. “It’s kind of hard to take care of business this way, unless of course, you would like to do the honors?” Deeks smirked.
Horace scowled and pulled out his blade again. As he held his gun in one hand, he struggled to slice through the tape with his knife. Deeks knew it was now or never as Horace concentrated on the knife and forgot the gun he held loosely in the other hand. As the tape began to loosen, Deeks broke free of his restraints, knocking the knife free and deftly bringing both hands up and under Horace’s chin in one tight fist, knocking the big man up against the stalls in surprise. Deeks lunged for the gun and wrestled to pry it from his assailant’s stubby fingers. A shot went off and hit the celling as the two men fought to gain control of the weapon.
“What the….!” Jasper screamed as he rushed into the room and immediately slammed the butt of his own gun down on Deeks’ head. Deeks slumped down quickly to the cold mud floor and promptly lost consciousness.
The sound of gunfire had brought Jasper running just in time to put a stop to Deeks’ escape attempt. Horace’s face had turned a bright shade of red as he leaned up against the wall and struggled to catch his breath.
“I thought you said he wasn’t going to give you any trouble?” Jasper shouted, berating his younger brother. “Help me get him out of here, unless you have any more brilliant ideas.”
Horace gathered what strength he had and helped Jasper drag Deeks’ limp body back over to the van. Kensi was panic-stricken as they dropped Deeks to the floor of the vehicle. She tried desperately to struggle out of her bonds. She relaxed a bit when she noticed Deeks began to move but felt helpless as she heard him groan in pain.
“Make sure you tape him up good. One more screw up and I’ll cut you up in pieces and leave you out here for the vultures to finish off!” Jasper wheezed and tried to catch his breath as he leaned up against the door and tumbled out. Horace took his own deep breath but could feel his muscles tighten. He curled his fists into a tight ball and cursed. He jerked Deeks hands behind his back and tightly wrapped the tape around his wrists and then worked on his ankles. He left Deeks lying face down on the floor.
“You took advantage of my good nature,” Horace pushed himself up and looked down at Deeks. His eyes bulged and a snarl formed on his pallid face. He suddenly slammed the point of his boot into Deeks’ right side, who immediately let out an agonizing groan. “That’s what you get when you don’t listen, punk!” Horace added then turned away and jumped off the back lift, slamming the door tightly.
Kensi tried to call out to Deeks and rocked back and forth on the floor trying to move closer to her partner. She cried out again but he didn’t move.
“Kensi,” Nell whispered. Kensi jerked her head around in surprise to find Nell completely free of her taped restraints. Eric came to attention and tried to call out her name but Nell held her finger up to her mouth, begging him to be quiet. Nell crawled over to Kensi and pulled off her tape.
“How….? Kensi didn’t finish her question.
“I don’t have time to explain; let’s just say I found a way to keep busy during our bumpy ride,” Nell struggled to get to her feet and felt the blood finally reaching her lower extremities. She staggered slightly and then raced to the front of the van and through the entrance into the cab. She knew they only had a small window of time to escape.
“What are you going to do, Nell? Nell?” Kensi called out nervously. “Come back here and untie me!” She begged and looked over at Eric who was staring at Nell wide eyed and shaking his head from side to side in terror.
“Don’t worry, I got this,” Nell cried out.
The small girl dropped between the two seats to stay out of view and immediately spied the keys dangling from the ignition. Thank god for small favors… now she wouldn’t have to jump-start this piece of junk. Nell crawled into the driver’s seat and turned the key. As the van began to slowly move she could hear the men outside yell out in shock. She prayed there was enough gas to get them just far enough away… if she just gave it a little more gas…
Nell jumped in surprise as Jasper hung from the open passenger side window and pointed his gun in her face.
“Pull over, now!” he screamed. Nell ignored him and floored the accelerator, steering the van onto the road where they were almost side swiped by another vehicle forcing her to lose control and crash directly into a utility pole in front of the trading post. As the van’s horn screamed in protest, Nell slumped slowly over the steering wheel, blood pouring from a nasty gash to her forehead.
Jasper had been thrown clear of the wreckage and Horace raced over to help him to his feet. The other vehicle, a large SUV, squealed to a halt throwing up sand and dust on the ground behind them. The driver’s door swung wide open quickly.
“Never a dull moment with you boys, is it?” Phin grinned and shook his head. They could see Angela’s worried face hiding behind him. “Remove our guests from the van and we’ll be on our way.”
“What about her?” Jasper ran over to the cab and pointed inside. “She looks real bad.”
“Leave her,” he sneered. “With any luck she’ll be dead by morning.”
To be Continued….
Diane Volpe is a Contributing Editor at wikiDeeks.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @phillydi