The Boy in the Bin

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Three full months went by before Fred went to a public phone around the corner from his office. He called Stephen Dexter at a bar named ‘The Bowery Electric’ in the Chelsea section. He wanted to be being cautious and wanted no one to recognize him at his local watering holes. Dexter usually frequented this place and found Fred sitting at a table with a drink in front of him.

“Where’s mine?” he badgered.

“Get your own,” Fred told him as he slapped a $ 20 bill on the table. Dexter went up to the serving area and ordered a Vodka Gimlet and returned.

“What did you want to meet about?” Dexter asked.

“I need someone to disappear,” Fred blurted. “I need the job to be done ASAP.”

“What do I get out of the deal?” he questioned. “You are talking about serious shit.”

“We discussed this before Dexter,” Fred snarled. “Don’t play your innocent shit with me.”

“Hey,” he howled, “I didn’t mean anything. I simply need to find out how this is going down and what the terms are.”

“Take care of this guy,” Fred offered, “and your get-out-of-jail card will be waiting for you at my office.”

“Who’s the mark?” Dexter wondered.

“My business partner, Raul,” Fred replied calmly. “Here is a picture of him.”

Fred pulled out a brochure from the business showing individual pictures of all the partners and associates at the law firm. Dexter studied he photograph of his target and handed the brochure back to Fred.

“Where is this guy going to be?” he demanded. “I need to set up a get-away plan.”

“I laid out a plan for you already,” Fred confirmed. “He leaves the office everyday about 5:30 P.M. He takes a metro transit bus from the office to his exit on East 2nd Street. He walks to his house which faces an alley. Knock him off in the alley because no witnesses will be around.

Afterward, run up to 3rd Street and catch the subway back to Penn Station. From that point, you can go anywhere you feel safe. I’ve met with the judge in your case and somehow the complaint against you got lost. Don’t screw me over and we’ll be fine.”

“Fred,” Dexter pointed out. “Consider the job done. Be aware though; I don’t need you to screw me over either. I’m doing this to settle my court problems. After this is done, I’m leaving the city.”

“That’s fine with me Dexter,” he agreed, “in fact; I think your plan is terrific. Neither one of us needs any more problems.”

Time chugged by for Raul like being caught in a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge. The clock on his office desk read 5:20 P.M. and he finished his work for the day. He phoned Marcia earlier and asked if she would be interested in going to Connecticut again with him these weekend. She expressed joy at the prospect and told him she would come by the office later this week to show her appreciation.

Raul pushed back his leather chair, latched his attaché’ case and went out the front door. As he walked to the bus terminal, he whistled a happy tune. Hooking up with Marcia was one thing in life giving him a great deal of pleasure.

The crowded bus waited for passengers during this rush hour. Raul stood upright during the entire journey home because of the crowd of day. When he got off the bus at the 2nd Street exit, he thought about going to ‘The Bowery Electric’ for a quick drink.

He didn’t concern himself with the man in the plaid sports jacket and sneakers following him. As he walked along, he thought of his plan to kill Fred. He hoped Sandez would call him tomorrow and give him some good news.

He decided against having a drink tonight because he didn’t feel like talking to anyone. He only wanted to go home and try to fantasize what life would be like without his partner. He turned down the alley to his home with thoughts of him and Marcia fresh in his mind. He didn’t hear the approach of sneakers behind him.

Dexter plunged a knife with a 7" blade deep in Raul’s kidney. Blood spurted out of Raul’s back but little showed visibly under Raul’s suit coat. Dexter gripped his victim by the scalp and quickly drew the large blade across his throat and neck. In doing so, the carotid artery severed and Raul dropped to his knees.

Dexter slammed him face first, into the pavement. He lifted the back of his suit and removed Raul’s wallet from his pants. He rolled him over and with a final burst of energy, plunged the knife into the chest cavity piercing Raul’s heart. This time, only a little blood spurted out, which indicated to Dexter, Raul finally died. He wiped the blade, shoved it into his pocket, with the wallet and ran down the alley.

As he came to the exit, a police car cruising by caught sight of him. Dexter panicked and ran back into the alley. The only escape was a fire escape traversing up the building. He grabbed the lower rung and climbed, right as two uniformed officers gave chase.

“Halt,” the one officer yelled, “I said HALT.”

Dexter refused to interrupt his upward climb. He put every ounce of energy into trying to conquer his narrow stairway to freedom. He moved two steps at a time up the stairs. As he rounded the corner to the next set of ascending surfaces, he cut his hand on an upright post. Pain shot through his body but didn’t slow him down one bit. He pushed himself higher, periodically glancing at the officers following him from the lower rungs.

Upon reaching the top, a two-foot stretch led to the top handhold. He lunged at the metallic cross member before gaining a firm footing. Rust, from years of exposure to the elements, caused the bar to snap on one side. Dexter plummeted thirty feet, landing chest first on the upright post; the same post causing his first injury. The post penetrated his sternum and exited through the back of his plaid coat.

His death came instantly.

The officers found the body and called paramedics. They removed Dexter’s coat and searched, finding Raul’s wallet and the knife secreted inside the inner pockets. The coroner and Lieutenant Sherman arrived at the same time as officers marked off the alley as a crime scene. Paul Sherman looked at Dexter but didn’t recognize him. He opened up the wallet and with shock, recognized the identification belonged to Raul Hernandez; someone he knew.

Sylvia screamed when the Lieutenant told her Raul met with disaster. The scream wasn’t necessarily a scream of horror, but in reality a scream of joy. She put every bit of her fortitude into withholding her happiness. This would make her life a lot easier, but she couldn’t show positive thoughts at the moment.

“How did the murder happen?” she sniffed tearfully. “Where?”

“We believe a robbery attempt went bad,” Lieutenant Sherman revealed. “The perpetrator died also, trying to escape. Your husband died a block from here; right in the alley. The man who killed him fell off a fire escape at the other end of the alley.”

“What do I do now?” Sylvia insisted. “Can I identify the body?”

“The coroner is finishing up his report at the moment,” Sherman acknowledged. “Someone will call you when you can come to identify the body, but I can verify I’m sure the deceased is your husband.”

Sylvia sniffed, moaned and forced herself to the sink to vomit. If she had been in a Broadway play, Sherman would give her a Tony Award; she acted convincingly upset. He gave her time to recover herself before he posed his next question.

“Do you want to call and notify your son,” he quizzed, “or would you rather someone from our department to tell him.”

“Lieutenant,” she whimpered. “I need to make the call. Raphael is close to his father and the task falls on me to tell him the bad news. I only wish he lived here and not in that Lakeview hell-hole.”

“I understand, Mrs. Hernandez,” he noted. “Once again, my sympathies go out to you for your loss. Please call me if I can do anything, and I will call you if I receive more information.”

Paul Sherman left the Brownstone with a sad feeling in his heart. He never liked giving bad news like this and today was no different. Even though he dealt in a professional manner with Raphael in the past, he understood the sorrow of losing a father so young. At 13, Paul lost his father to a stroke. He hoped with all his heart this wouldn’t make a fairly good kid turn bad.

Raphael busily worked in the kitchen when Sergeant Cosgrove came in. He watched the youngster preparing the evening meal for the rest of the inmates. Cosgrove acted like a tough cookie who took no crap from his charges, but this task would be difficult. Raphael always complied with the rules and losing his father while being locked up here seemed to be a shitty turn of fate.

“Hernandez,” he shouted, “Front and center.”

Raphael suspended his activities and ran over to the sergeant. He had done nothing wrong lately, but he still worried he might be disciplined for something.

“Raphael Hernandez reporting as ordered sir.”

“Son,” Cosgrove confided, “we need to talk. Come out to the dining area with me.”

Now Raphael showed worry. Cosgrove always barked orders but today he seemed rather reserved. What did he want to talk about? Did he mess up a meal or something? Did someone put in a complaint about him? Were his grades in school bad? No matter how he tried, he couldn’t fathom the answer. He met Cosgrove at one of the dining tables and sat down across from him.

“Son,” he advised, “I received got some bad news concerning you. Your father has been murdered.”

This statement came as a complete shock to Raphael. He recently saw his father on visitation day last month and now he got news his father died. He sat in dead silence as Sergeant Cosgrove revealed the details of the assault.

“I’m going to give you a special pass, Son,” he continued. “You need to call your Mother at home and discuss things with her. She called earlier, but the switchboard referred her . She told me the basics, but you need to talk to her directly. She needs you.”

Raphael tried hard to hold back his tears, without success. Cosgrove wanted to hold him and give him shelter but forced himself to resist any tender feelings. Because they were in a public area, any affectionate action might be taken as favoritism. He let Raphael grieve as he sat in silence, unable to console him.

“Are nyou sure it nwas nmy Daddy?” Raphael sobbed.

“Yes Son, I’m sure,” he confirmed. “Your mother identified the body.”

This set off another volley of crying from the young inmate. The chief cook came out to investigate the noise and Cosgrove waved him back into the kitchen. He would explain later, but now, he needed to get Raphael to a phone.

“Hernandez,” he directed, “you need to make a call now. Come with me and you can use the phone in my office.”

Raphael got up and followed the Sergeant to his office. Cosgrove dialed Raphael’s home number and handed the phone to him. He told him he would give him privacy for his call, but he would be right outside when he finished.

Outside the door, Cosgrove heard much crying and sobbing coming from Raphael, between stretches of conversation with his mother. He assumed Raphael’s sentence of six months would probably be shortened, but modification of a sentence wasn’t his call.

He hoped Mrs. Hernandez hired a good lawyer who could influence the powers of the court and get this kid out. This would be up to the Prosecutor and the Judge in his case. They held the power over whether rule of law or sympathy would prevail.

And sympathy usually lost.

The news of Raul’s death flashed on the TV screen as Marcia sat with Suzy in their favorite bar. Both women sat transfixed as the announcer described the alley in front of Raul’s house.

“A prominent city lawyer died today in what is believed to be a

robbery. Raul Hernandez, 34, was found stabbed to death in the alley

leading to his house. In a related story, Stephen Dexter, 28, fell to his

death today in the same alley. Police reported they believe Dexter

killed Hernandez, took his wallet and attempted to escape police by

climbing a rusty fire escape. Lieutenant Paul Sherman of the New York

Police Department stated Dexter fell to his death when the top rung of

the fire escape broke, causing the criminal to tumble three stories;

impaling himself on a support pole. No other connection between

the two men has been established, but the case is still being investigated

by NYPD. I’m Rick Dunham for Channel 5 news.”

“Can you believe he died,” Suzy remarked. “We just met him at the party a while ago. Marcia, Marcia, what’s the matter. You’re crying.”

“I knew him very well,” Marcia commented. “He and my father are partners.”

Rolland Sandez became upset. Only last week, he delivered a large quantity of his ‘product’ to Raul Hernandez at the law office. He planned to have the package picked up by one of his compatriots for distribution, but because of Raul’s untimely death, the transaction never happened. Now, he needed to deal with his partner Fred; something he definitely didn’t want to do. He adjusted his tie and entered the law firm office.

“I’m here to visit Fred,” Sandez told the receptionist.

“Do you have an appointment?” she inquired

“I used to be Raul Hernandez’s client,” he reported, “however, I’m aware he is no longer with the firm.”

“I’ll alert Fred you’re here.”

Sandez sat in the waiting room, contemplating the upcoming conversation with Raul’s partner. Fred came out of his office and greeted him.

“Mr. Sandez,” Fred smiled, “come into my office and grab a seat. How can I help you?”

“I’m sure you realize,” Sandez clarified, “Mr. Hernandez handled the legal needs for my company.”

“Yes,” Fred relayed, “and we appreciate your business. Naturally, we would like to continue our association.”

“That’s why I’m here,” Rolland affirmed. “May I speak frankly?”

“Of course,” Fred asserted. “I think open communication benefits both of us.”

“I previously set up a deal with Raul whereas one of my associates would pick up supplies here at your office,” Sandez admitted. “In fact, I believe you received inventory which is stored here now. I would like to get my inventory back.”

“Since we’re being honest,” Fred pressed, “would we be talking about anything illegal?”

“Some may consider this, as you say, ‘illegal’,” Rolland argued,” but I merely think of this as ‘product’.”

“Mr. Sandez,” Fred declared. “Our law firm is built on integrity. We cannot be involved in anything considered ‘illegal’. Whatever arrangement you set up with Raul in the past is not a factor in our continued business. If Raul stored materials in this office not related to our business operations, we must remove anything, not in compliance with the law.”

“What about the possibility of my courier coming here,” Mr. Sandez asked, “and picking the parcel up?”

“I’m afraid delivery to a courier won’t be possible,” Fred affirmed.

“Well Fred,” Sandez sighed, “I hoped to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, we are at opposite ends of the spectrum. We will suspend the rest of our business relations with your firm also.”

“I understand Mr. Sandez,” he nodded. “I wish things turned out differently, but I need to protect the good standing we established with the community. I’m sure you can see my rationale, can’t you?”

“You’ve expressed your opinion,” Sandez conceded, “and I’ve expressed mine. Good day.”

Sandez didn’t hesitate after making his statement. He got up from the chair and left the office.

Sergeant Cosgrove located Raphael working in the kitchen during his regular work duty. Secretly, he enjoyed today’s task because the court informed him of Raphael’s imminent release from Lakeview. Working with his young charge these recent months convinced him Raphael wasn’t a typical punk, but a kid who got caught up in some bad circumstances.

“Hernandez, front and center,” he commanded.

Raphael dropped a full pan of baked potatoes at the surprise of hearing Cosgrove’s booming voice. He rushed to pick up the scattered spuds and replace them in the pan. He finally dashed over to stand in from of his sergeant.

“Hernandez reporting as requested sir.”

“You are directed to go to admin and change into your civilian clothes,” Cosgrove ordered. Afterward, you will be transported to your home in metropolitan New York City.”

Raphael displayed an confused look on his face. He kept his emotions in check after hearing about the death of his father. Now things appeared he may be in some additional trouble back at home. What the hell would happen to him now?

“Am I ngoing back to ncourt?” he groaned.

“No Son,” Cosgrove announced gently, “you are being released. The court determined, because of recent circumstances, your term is over at this facility. Change your clothes and you will be free to go. A transport van will drive you back ... unless you’d rather walk.”

A broad smile appeared on Raphael’s face. He ripped his apron off and ran to the administration office where they pulled his civilian clothes out of storage. He changed in less than two minutes and stood in front of the admin officer who gave him a signed pass. The pass said ‘RELEASED’ at the top with all the necessary information and signatures.

Raphael had magically received his life back.

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