Dinner had ended on an awkward note, but yet pleasant. Alex was on the road to Manhattan, taking Gina back to her apartment for some shuteye. She listened in on a traffic report and heard that the Southbound I-95 was an outdoor parking lot due to an exploding truck. Therefore, Alex cruised through the local streets and planned to take the Bruckner Expressway at Castle Hill Avenue. Gina blankly stared out the window. Thoughts and emotions ran through her mind like wildfire, sucking out the energy she had left. Whatever Pastor Goode did at the hospital appeared to have spooked her mother.
“So, how did it go with Mom?” Alex curiously asked.
“I...can’t say,” Gina answered. “Honestly, I thought I’d feel better by now. Thinking we’d be acting like a couple of college girls on a sleepover, ya know? Sharing laughs about tonight, deciding what to watch On-demand and pigging out on ice cream. But now, all I’m feeling is more confused. Every answer I get leads to more questions needing to be asked.”
“What does that mean?”
“She told me I can find the pastor at the Inner Life of Holy Worship
“That’s great! One less item on your list, right? So what’s the confusing part?”
As Gina attempted to unscramble the puzzling conversation she had with her mother, large headlights blindly flashed from Alex’s window. “ALLIE, LOOK OUT!!” she shouted.
A faded brown Ford Taurus zoomed passed the red light and t-boned into
Alex’s Civic. Banging metal echoed in their ears. Broken glass swiped their
faces as the car swerved in circles, making donuts the middle of the intersection.
The colliding Taurus had then crashed grill first into a lamppost.
With no sense of balance, Alex stumbled out of the car first. It felt as if
the world around her moved in slow motion as she rubbed on her ears to shake out the ringing sound. Except for a few cuts on her cheek and glass caught in her hair, she was fine. Gina, astonishingly at full strength, without a scratch on her, ran around the car to help Alex regain balance. “Are you okay, Allie?” she asked.
“I’m good,” groaned Alex. “I’m gonna check that other car. Can you divert
the oncoming traffic in the meantime? Be back in a jiffy.”
“Maybe you should sit down a bit. Let me check the other car.”
“It’s not your jurisdiction, Gi. Besides, if a dangerous situation was to jump off and a civilian - which is you - should get hurt while a government agent - which is me - is on the scene, then I’d be in some deep trouble. Now don’t worry about me. I’ll be right back.”
As Alex trotted off, the best Gina could do was flash her sheriff badge and redirect traffic away from the intersection. Frustrated drivers made sour faces while making broken u-turns and driving down unknown neighborhood streets. Residents got on their Smartphones and recorded live videos for their social media accounts.
Just then, the surrounding chaos fell silent around her. “Danger!” She could hear nothing except her inner voice, whispering to her that something terrible
was about to happen. Her heartbeat escalated. Overcome by heat. Where was
the danger coming from? Did somebody die in the crash? Or about to? She then looked toward Alex. Oh no!
Through a thick mass of smoke, Alex crept closer to the crashed car. She couldn’t tell if the passengers were alive inside. The driver laid unconscious against the airbag. Broken glass crinkled underneath her shoes. However, she
noticed other pieces glistening in a yellow-brownish light. She kneeled down and fanned away some glassy chunks. And to her shock, she picked up a gold coin. Hundreds more were then seen underneath the car. Moreover, shiny artifacts spilled out from a few duffel bags inside the busted trunk. “Gold?” she gasped. “How is that possible?”
From out of nowhere, a man wearing a ski mask appeared from the shadows holding a double-barrel shotgun. Alex never saw him coming. Just as he opened fire, Gina flashed over instantly and tackled her sister to the ground. The driver then sat up and got out of the car, followed by two more men who crawled out from the side doors, armed with semi-automatics.
“Stay down!” Gina yelled out to the bystanders as she grabbed Alex and raced behind her damaged Civic. Bullets rattled from across the intersection, banging against their car as if they were launching crowbars with a slingshot. Oncoming cars swerved out of the way, rear-ending each other and leaving skid marks on the road. Trails of exhaust polluted the night air.
“Ha – how - how’d - how you get – so fast – how you know - what the?”
“I don’t know, Al!” Gina stammered.
Just then, a black Suburban jeep bulldozed through the traffic and screeched next to the busted Taurus. As the shooters ran toward the vehicle, Alex unholstered her Glock 36 and fired back. One assailant got struck in the arm as he jumped inside. The other three ran back behind their vehicle for cover. Not wanting to get caught, the big wheels of the Suburban peeled off the blacktop, abandoning their teammates while hauling ass down the street.
Gina looked at Alex and signaled she was going after the jeep. Obeying jurisdictional boundaries was pointless. Besides, Alex had to know about the origin of those gold coins, now appearing to have been stolen. She couldn’t let them get away. “Go!” she said. “I got this!”
No stutters in Gina’s step as she ran through the brigade of flying bullets and commandeered a vehicle abandoned on the side of the street, battered from the gunfire. The keys stayed hanging from the ignition, just begging to be used. She twisted the key, but the engine didn’t kick over. Twisting and twisting,
nearly breaking the key in half, and still nothing happened. “Work, dammit!” she shouted while punching the dashboard. And just like that, the throttle percolated.
Gina slammed on the gas pedal and screeched toward the direction of fresh skidmarks.
Meanwhile, Alex continued trading bullets with the assailants, running low on ammunition. What’s worse, these guys showed no signs of surrender. They needed to be put down. But, how? As glass particles sprinkled by her feet, she came up with a brilliant idea. When the crew stopped to reload, Alex crawled underneath her car. Like target practice, she squeezed the trigger and let the bullets fly. Blood splashed out from their ankles as all three dropped to the ground, wallowing in pain.
She raced toward the group and kicked their weapons to the side. But now, a new dilemma surfaced: three shooters, but one pair of handcuffs. “How to do this?” she thought. “Got it!” Two shooters got shackled together as she slipped the cuffs between the car door handle and locked one wrist each. The third shooter made a pathetic attempt to crawl away, but he screamed in pain as she drove the heel of her shoe into his spine. “Uh-Uhn,” she said. “Stay right there.”
Alex drew her gun on him while pulling out her phone to call the police. She ordered them to send some EMT’s and plenty of traffic cops to sustain fluidity among the streets. She then contacted a member of her team, Kristen Cho, perimeter statistician. “Sorry to call at this hour, Kris,” she said. “But I need your help and I need it fast.”
“Comes with the job,” said Kristen. “Besides, you’re the boss. What do you
“I need you to cross-reference all records of artifacts arriving into the country with any synagogues or religious communities in New York, specifically within the vicinity of the Bronx.”
After a few minutes of typing and clicking, Kristen shouted, “Got one! According to our friends in Customs, a shipment of rare religious artifacts arrived in the States a couple of days ago, marked as a gift from The Vatican. Made of pure gold.”
“That’s right. The recipient came from a church in the Bronx, somewhere in West Fordham Road. Name of the church is…give me a second…Ah! The Inner Life of Holy Worship Church.”
“You got to be kidding me?”
“And the name of the pastor who signed for them is –” “Matthew Goode, right?”
“Exactly. How’d you know?”
“Long story. Get back to you.”
Alex hung up the phone and rubbed the migraine forming on the right side of her head. How is it possible for this robbery to be intertwined with the very same church that Gina’s supposed to visit tomorrow? Looking back at the collision, she thought to herself, “What the hell is going on here?”