Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Girl Sleuth-Chapter 18

(To read from the beginning go Here.)

The brick and concrete canyon of the street ricocheted the sound of their pounding feet back at them. Anne stumbled, too busy trying to glance over her shoulder. At the most they had two or three minutes head start.

Steadying herself with a snatch at a stoop railing, she managed to stay on her feet. They needed people, light, noise, some sort of shield against recapture. Were there no nightowls in East Orange? Not a single light shone in any of the windows that lined the street. Should they try to rouse someone? How long would it take them to get to the door? Screaming might draw all the wrong kinds of attention and no help.

In front of her, Jilly staggered and sprawled. The heel of her shoe stayed planted in a crack in the sidewalk.

Anne knelt beside her. “Are you okay?”

Jilly winced and sat up, one hand rubbing her ankle. Anne truned as she caught the wash of light down the street as a door opened. Their time was up.

“Come on, kiddo. We’ve got to get going.” With Jilly’s arm around her neck she hauled her friend up.

Her frantic gaze found not so much as an alley between the block of row houses. They weren’t far from the corner. If they could just get out of sight they might have a chance to hide. There was no chance they could outrun Van Dyke and his minions now.

She was stupid, stupid, stupid. She should never have ditched Erik. What she wouldn’t give to see him right now. IF they got out of this mess, she would go straight to him.

They skittered around the corner. Poor Jilly was hobbling as quickly as she could, her face set in a grim mask of pained determination. Anne scanned the street. There had to be someplace to hide.

A dark narrow alley bordered the back row of the houses. They could dive in there, maybe even double-back the way they had come. Unless of course VanDyke had sent one of his goombas out the back to make sure they hadn’t gone that way.

A narrow stairwell leading to the basement of a butcher’s shop, and half hidden by a conglomeration of trashcans showed itself on the other side of the street.

Behind her heavy feet thumped in big band rhythm, nearer, faster.

She couldn’t waste time dithering. The stairwell would have to do.

“C’mon, Jilly. Just over there.” Anne nodded with a thrust of her chin.

Jilly nodded agreement sweat beading on her forehead. Together they scrambled for the scant cover.

Jilly collapsed on the bottom step, bending until her head touched her knees. Fingers kneading her ankle as her shoulder shuddered with silent sobs.

Anne stood and peered through a gap between trashcans. The Guide and Handsome stood at the corner, heads swiveling in either direction.

The mutter of a car engine up the road hit Anne’s ears. The beam of a pair of headlights sliced a gulf between her and the goons. She craned to see the approaching vehicle.

A squad car!

Handsome and The Guide pulled back into the alley opposite.

Anne licked her lips. They could stay put and risk being found and shot, or risk getting shot sooner as they tried to flag down help. Could nothing ever be easy?

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