Free to a Good Home, Book 2 of the Heartbeat Series

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2. Discovery

2. Discovery

Three days later as the snow blew between the industrial park’s buildings, the forklifts removed the crates from the back of the semi-truck and onto the floor of the AC Records warehouse in Queens, New York. After each tour, the inventoried wooden crates were properly denoted with a cargo slip and locked shut with screws. That afternoon, as the crates were opened, inventoried and organized, they were moved to an assigned quadrant of the warehouse.

Linda, a college intern in an oversized NYU sweatshirt where she had already hidden two Paul Lenci concert T-shirts in the hoodie beneath it, had just finished counting a stack of tour T-shirts that she inventoried and set aside in another box. When she lifted the wooden crate lid of the next she almost gagged at the stench.

Before she reached for the next stack, she saw Maia’s face. Quickly, she shoved the rest aside down the length of her as she screamed in terror at what she thought was a dead child.

“Oh my God!” she bellowed. “Martin!"

Martin Mancusi, the warehouse manager, expecting another mouse or a spider, raised his eyes and didn’t respond at first, but finished writing the crates’ inventory on a packing list.

"There’s a girl in here! I think she’s dead!”

“Dead? What? What are you talking about?” Martin left his clipboard and rushed over to where Linda was, shoving the tour crates out of his way with his hips. The acrid stench greeted him as he moved closer to the crate, where Linda had already covered her nose and mouth in disdain. Martin looked down at the girl in that oversized dirty brown coat curled up in a silent still ball.

His fat fingers felt for a pulse, glad to feel that the girl was slightly warm instead of ice cold. He reached below the paunch of his gut for the cell phone clipped upon his belt. Holding it towards the intern, he instructed her to call 911, but she refused his cell phone with a grimace and dialed her own. He reached her phone from her and ended the call, then dialed it on his own phone.

“You twit! You cannot call 911 from your phone. It will get back to you and cause all kinds of scandal for AC Records. I’m bonded with them. Look around in that crate and see if you can find anything else in there that doesn’t belong in there.”

“Give me back my phone first.”

Martin handed it back to her and began talking to the dispatcher.

With the phone balanced between his ear and shoulder, he picked Maia up out of the crate and her head dropped backward in the crook of his arm until he set her down on a closed crate's lid.

“Do you think she’s a fan?” asked Linda.

“No fan is that dirty. She looks like some homeless kid.”

“But why would she get into a tour crate?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

After the dispatcher answered, Martin spouted off the address and situation as to why an ambulance was necessitated at the warehouse. Linda, continuing to search the crate for clues, bent over it as her perfectly sculpted hips encased in tight black yoga pants distracted Martin who didn’t hear the dispatcher’s same question the last two times she asked it.

“Is the child conscious?” bellowed the dispatcher.

“Conscious? No, she’s out. Completely out.”

“I’ll dispatch the ambulance immediately.”

Linda rose from the box with ease, in one hand a piece of paper and in the other hand a backpack that was just as grimy as the coat. She handed him the backpack and she turned his back on him and opened the once white paper marred with dirty fingerprints and curled as if a desperate hand had held it. He carefully opened the folded paper, its edges tore as he manipulated it, then slowed his action to prevent from ripping it more.

Her eyes scanned the page as a grin crept upon her face until she realized that Martin was almost finished with the dispatcher. Once more she read the handwritten note beneath the photocopied birth certificate:

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Maia Catrina Lenci and I am the daughter of Saverio Lenci who is the father of Paul Lenci. If you find this upon me, please help me find them and likewise they find me.

Diffused scandals in this industry included an added bonus as hush money, and this piece of paper was as good as a check written by AC Records founder and CEO Alex Corwynn himself. Certain she had just found her way to pay for college, Linda moved away from where Martin could see her and started snapping pictures of the letter, the birth certificate and the article on the back of it with her Iphone.

While Martin rushed through the maze of crates and shoved some wheeled tour crates on out of the way to create a path for the paramedics, Linda set the paper down on a crate and quickly took a couple pictures of it and the article on the backside of it. If Corwynn wouldn’t pay up, she’s certain that any tabloids would pay good money to eat Paul Lenci alive.

As the intensity of blaring sirens swelled, its cacophonous horn bounced off buildings in the confusion of bottleneck lunch hour traffic. Martin left her alone with Maia while he went to meet the paramedics at the door and Linda took a quick video of Maia and a few pictures, especially of her face.

Linda took a quick video of the crate where she found Maia, pushing aside some of the stacks to show the urine stained t-shirts and where Maia had laid for 3 days. She went into Maia’s backpack and searched for clues and souvenirs from Paul Lenci’s little sister.

Hearing the booming male voices as they entered the warehouse, Linda quickly hid her phone in her hoodie pocket beneath the oversized sweatshirt. and the paramedics snaked through the maze of crates with their gear in hand as Martin recalled how they found her in a tour crate. Linda quickly folded the piece of paper and dropped it back inside the tour crate where she found Maia. Upon reaching Maia, the pair of EMT’s jumped into action accessing the unconscious homeless girl.

The burly E.M.T. with the peppered red hair attached the stethoscope to his ears as the other laid Maia upon her back instead of the fetal position that Martin had left her in.

“Is this some homeless kid from the street?” asked one, unzipping Maia’s coat, finding another coat and three shirts beneath it, all of which smelled like mildew and body odor. Martin ogled at the revelation of the girls’ body as the paramedic used his scissors to cut through the grimy sweatshirt as well as each of the other two shirts, leaving the spaghetti strapped tank shirt intact. Seeing where the chubby man’s gaze had fallen, the EMT snorted and used his stethoscope to listen to her heart and the obvious congestion that filled her lungs.

“We don’t know, we just found her in a tour crate,” replied Martin.

“A tour crate? How long had she been held up in there?” asked the younger one with the clipboard.

“A few days, since it left Chicago on Wednesday night.”

“She’s lucky to be alive. Any idea why she got in there?” asked the older EMT, using his penlight upon her eyes to check for responsiveness.

“Probably cold…who knows, maybe she’s in trouble with the law.”

“Could be. She’s pretty young though. Any I.D.?”

“No, just a backpack but I haven’t looked at it yet. I was making a path for you all.”

Linda acted as if she had just discovered the paper for the first time.

"Hey, what’s this?” asked Linda, picking up the paper and opening it. This says that her name is Maia and she’s looking for her family,” said Linda.

“Does Maia have a last name?” asked the younger one with the clipboard.

“Yeah, it’s Lenci,” repliedLinda. Martin grabbed the paper from her, flipping it over to see the article with Paul’s quote underlined in blue ink then back to the front.

The younger paramedic looked around and saw the Paul Lenci Concert Tour T-shirts and nodded. “Well, then, that makes sense.” He watched how Linda still rifled through the backpack.

“Miss, is that her backpack?”

“Yes, I was looking for clues--”

Martin walked over and took it from her and zipped it shut. The paramedic put out his hand for it. “That probably ought to stay with her, regardless of whose brother she is." Martin took it from her and handed it to the paramedic.

“Where’s that paper you just had?” he asked Martin

“I need to contact my superiors and I need that,” he said.

“Go make a copy and send that original with Maia. That’s hers, not yours or your company’s property.”

Martin motioned to Linda. “Get your coat and purse and clock out. We’re on lockdown for the day.”

“I’m going to use the bathroom real quick,” she said, then left him in the office at the copier. Linda locked herself inside the bathroom and emailed herself the pictures and videos of Maia and then deleted them off her phone in case it was searched. Before she left the bathroom, she had put the phone back inside the hoodie beneath the sweatshirt.

The older paramedic took her pulse as he stared at his watch. By the time they spoke to the triage nurse at Queens Medical, via the walkie-talkie upon his shoulder, another team had shown up and brought in a board to transfer her to a gurney near the warehouse door. Martin handed the younger paramedic the paper from Maia. He put it under the clamp of his clipboard.

"I’d be contacting her family, whoever they are. I’m sure you have ways of having the home office locate them. She’s lucky to be alive. How long she stays that way is up to God. Tell whomever necessary to get her family to Queens Medical ASAP.”

“Her O-Sat level is still at an 82, we need to up that O2 on her stat,” said the older paramedic into his walkie-talkie. Another EMT ran inside with a case and within a minute they had an oxygen mask on her. They strapped her onto the stretcher and together carried her out to the gurney where they strapped it down again and wheeled her out of there as quickly as they could.

Linda followed them out, phone in hand as she took video of them loading Maia into the ambulance. As soon as they left, she walked to the subway, googling the phone numbers for the editor’s desk of news networks.

“Do you pay for the news?” She asked an editor.

“Depends, what do you got?”

“A fan in tour cargo. Claims to be a rock star’s long-lost sister. I got pictures, video, and the birth certificate."

“Oh yeah, we’d pay for that.”

“How much?”

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