As Eli spoke with Airport security, I looked around at the cameras all over the building, covering every inch of the open space.
He knew. He knew the cameras were here, and he knew we would check them.
Eli nodded to say the security was ready to search the airport and we made our way to the bathrooms we saw in Gail’s office.
I went in, looking around the long stalls, and the large silver urinal on the wall.
One of the officers came over to me, “There is only one way in or out of this bathroom. No windows, no utility closets, nothing. Just the main door in and out.”
“He came in and didn’t come back out. He’s not here, so where did he go?” I asked. Eli opened all the stalls, checking each one for anything unusual.
I left the bathroom and looked up at the camera that saw him yesterday. It was fixed on the door, didn’t move. I turned around, looking at the roof, and spotted another one, facing the lady’s bathroom door, just next to the men’s. It too was fixed, looking at the door.
Where did you go?
Eli and the officer came out, shaking their heads. “Paul, I don’t know how the hell he got out-”
My phone rang.
I dug it out of my back pocket, and my lips pulled at the corners at the sight of “GAIL DF” on my screen, “Hey, you got something?”
“He just left! Five minutes ago!” She shouted over the phone.
My mind instantly focused, and I spun around to Eli, “He just left. Shut this airport down, get all your guys on the doors!”
I put the phone back to my ear, “Gail, where did he go?”
“Towards the doors, you guys came in through. You would have walked right past him.” She said.
I turned to the entrance, my hands shaking that he was so close. I looked at each face in the terminal, hoping to spot him from a distance.
“Gail, follow him, where is he?”
“Outside! He got into a blue cab. I’m getting the cabs number and a drop off location for you now.”
I hung up the phone and ran for the doors, showing my badge to the officers posted there, and outside onto the street. I looked down the road, first to the left, then to the right, but he was gone.
“FUCK!” I shouted into the air.
Eli came running out, and my phone rang again. Thinking it was Gail, I answered it without looking. “Gail, what you got?”
“So close, Paul,” the snake-like voice said, “And yet so far. You almost had me there.”
I looked at Eli, “I’m gonna find you. And when I do, you’re gonna wish I killed you five years ago.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Paul. You had your chance. You won’t get this close to me again.”
Eli’s phone rang, and he showed me Gail’s number on the screen before stepping away and answering it.
“You getting scared, ha, you son of a bitch. You know I’m going to find you. I will hunt you down no matter what hole you crawl into.” I said, hoping to keep him talking so Gail could do what she does best.
“Don’t threaten me, Paul. It’s rude and upsets me. You don’t want me upset. I do terrible things when I get upset.”
“Then come and get me. I’m right here. Bring it on.” I looked over at Eli, and he motioned for me to keep him talking.
“Are you challenging me, Paul? Shall we make a wager then? Who will get to who first? Will you get to me before I get to Lilly? I know she’s on her way back to me. Thank you for that, by the way.”
“Lilly has nothing to do with this. This is between you and me, not her.”
“Ok, Paul,” He dragged his words out again, “Then you and me. Let’s see who can get to who first. And remember this, Paul, the more people you care about, the easier you make it for me.” He said and hung up.
I went over to Eli and grabbed the phone from him, “Gail, please tell me you got him?”
“I got him! He’s on War Veterans Memorial Freeway, heading North over Government Island. Units en route.” She said.
Eli and I ran for my car, spinning the tires as we took off towards the freeway. I flicked on the Police lights and siren, and pushed the gas, ducking between cars and around trucks and busses. We climbed on the freeway, narrowly missing a minivan and gunned it towards Government Island.
Eli called Gail again, and put the call on loudspeaker, “Where is he?” I called out, swerving around a bus.
“Still on the freeway, about three miles ahead of you. I got the cab on traffic cams.”
The cars ahead started to back up, the afternoon traffic getting dense, and as I weaved around them, I had no choice but to slow down, and eventually stop.
“Gail?” I called out.
“He’s up ahead, about four hundred yards, in a blue cab, license number SYR 77 Z.”
I jumped out of the car and looked at the string of traffic ahead of us. We weren’t going anywhere, and neither was the cab. I shut the door, pulled my gun and ran. Eli followed closely behind me, and I could hear the sirens of the units heading our way.
I slowed when I spotted the blue cab ahead, in front of a pricy Jaguar, and motioned for Eli to take the other side. I lifted my gun, and as my chest heaved from the running and the two packs of cigarettes a day, I edged closer to the car.
I tried to look through the window at anyone in the back seat, but the glare from the sun reflected, blinding me. I glanced over at Eli, his gun raised, and his eyes squinting at the sunlight.
We both crept closer, and when we were out of our vantage point of the cars around us, I swung the door open and pointed the end of my gun into the car.
The scream of a young woman sitting in the back had my itchy finger spring off the trigger. I pulled my gun out of her face and looked up at Eli.
He shrugged and looked around. I went to the back of the car, to check the plate, but it was a match.
I stomped to the driver, pulling my badge out, and opening the door, “Get out of the car!” I said, pulling him out by the arm.
“Hey, what have I done?” He asked with surprise.
“Where did you pick this fair up?” I asked, holstering my gun.
“Under the bridge, by the airport.” He said, lifting his hands in surrender.
“Did you drop anyone off there?”
“Some guy I picked up at the airport. He didn’t go far.” The driver said.
My phone rang in my pocket again. This time I looked at the unknown number displayed on my screen. I waved Eli over and showed him the screen before swiping it to answer.
His laugh echoed over the line, “Oh Paul. That’s twice today you went right past me. Still think you can catch me?”
I ground my teeth, “Think you're clever, do you? Don’t use up all your tricks.” I said.
“There is plenty more where that came from. See you soon, Paul.” The call ended, and Eli came over to me, holstering his gun.
“Don’t let him suck you into his madness. He’s pushing you, so you snap. Don’t let him get in your head.”
“Easy for you to say, he’s not after your family!” I snapped in his face and walked away before it got out of hand.
I got back in the car, slamming the door and pounded the steering wheel with my fist. Eli was speaking to the cabs fair again.
I rubbed my face, feeling like a dick for snapping at him. All he’s done all day is help me, and I have acted like a jerk. Pull yourself together, man.
My phone buzzed again, vibrating in my pocket, and I let out a relieved sigh at the sight of Gail’s name on my screen.
I slid it open, “Hey you.”
“Paul, you need to get back here, now.” Her voice serious.
My smile quickly fell, and I hit the horn to let Eli know it was time to go.
“What’s going on?”
“Forensics is finished sweeping your house. Get down here as quick as you can.” She said and hung up.
Shit, what now?
I hit the horn again at Eli.
He waved to me and came running over a moment later. He shut the door, and I weaved us out of the traffic on the bridge.
“The fare in the cab found this in her handbag. She has no idea how it got there.” He held up a plastic evidence bag with a small device, the green light flashing.
“What is that?”
“No idea. Maybe Gail can tell us.” He said, tossing it on the dash, and reaching for his seatbelt, as I hit the pedal and we raced towards 2nd avenue.