“What the hell have I gotten myself into?” Natalie thought. She thought she’d feel vindicated after getting the truth out of Don. Wrong. She felt worse. An entire police force may have to be brought down to avenge Martha. Such an impossible feat can’t be accomplished alone. For his cooperation, Natalie kept her word and offered to help him hide. But, where? Going back the crack house would be a death trap. Stashing him at her place would be even worse. Use your head girl. Forget for a moment that your quest for revenge had become a suicide mission, swirling in controversy. Traffic moved smoothly, so she had time to explore the vicinity. If only there was a safe house where he can stay until she scraped up some extra cash. “Lord, please show me a sign,” she whispered in prayer.
Don lied across the back seat of Natalie’s vehicle. Distraught. Disgusted. The last days of life would be spent running and hiding like a fugitive. Money was his motivation to work with Hart, but now he can’t use that money during his time of need. To answer’s Natalie’s question from earlier: it wasn’t worth it.
Natalie made a right turn on Arthur Avenue and parked in front of a red- brick fortress that occupied most of the block, Don looked sheepishly at the subtle sign hanging over the front doors: Inner Life of Holy Worship Church. On the roof sat an 8-foot cross that cast a large shadow across the neighborhood on
a sunny day. “You expect me to stay in a church?” he hesitantly asked.
“Not exactly what I had in mind,” said Natalie. She then pointed across the street. There it is, the safe haven she prayed for. A homeless shelter named The Nest. Can there be a more perfect name?
Natalie got out of the car and felt confident she was doing the right thing.
“I take it you’re more comfortable with this place?” she asked. Don nodded. He seemed more at ease while looking over his new temporary place of residence. Nothing but old folks on the porch, immigrant families walking down the block and a couple of druggies coming in and out of the building. He should be safe for a few days as long as he kept out of sight.
“Cop activity around here is very low,” she mentioned. “I’d be shocked
if the mayor knew this neighborhood actually existed. I don’t know the Bronx well, but there’s something about this place that just feels right, like I was meant to bring you here.”
“You don’t mean I’m staying here permanently, do you?” he doubted. “Better than the crack house, isn’t it? Besides, I just need to keep you
hidden until I can think of a plan to get you out of town.”
“...You’d do that for me?”
“I’m a woman of my word Don. You gave me some valuable information,
so I’m going to help you, just like I promised. But once you leave the city,
you’re on your own. I can give you some places to check out in Jersey, but that’s just about it. My suggestion would be to go as far out west as possible. I doubt Hart has any stroke past the Tri-State area.”
“He doesn’t. But, the guys he works for do. The things they’ve put together in a short amount of time tell me that they have zero tolerance for failure. They got their stuff together Mercedes, tightly knit at the seams.”
“And that’s why I’m telling you to not even stick your head out of the window to stare at the sunshine. Hear me? I’ll be back in a few days and we’ll make your escape plan then.”
“Thank you, Mercedes. I mean that.” Natalie nodded and motioned for him to check-in. As Don opened the door, he made a stammering attempt to apologize for attacking her earlier. She waved him off and gave him a “yeah- yeah-yeah” until he stepped into the building.
Thanks to Don, Natalie now knows what kind of demented people are involved with this scandal. She had a lot of planning to do in a short amount of time. First, get Don out of town. And second, find Cat Strutter. No matter how
long it takes or how difficult it may seem, she swore to bring every last one of
them down. For Martha.