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On 231 at 2:31
The light drizzle streaked diagonally across the window, dripped off the black benches, and covered the multitude of cars in the parking lot. Jack glanced out at the lovely view. He loved rain. It was fortunate then that he lived in a city in England: Enfield, to be exact. He was sitting in a café, at a window-side table; he’d already finished a warm bowl of soup, and was now enjoying a cup of coffee.
As he peered out into the light rain, he heard a shaky voice behind him,
“Mr. Mason?” He turned and saw a young lady, around late twenties, walking up. She showed a look of terror and urgency. Her eyes were red and moist from crying. In her hand she held a small note.
“You’re Jack Mason, the detective?”
“Uh, yes. What can I do for you? Please have a seat.” She sat down shakily, and began,
“I went to Inspector, um, Burr-, Burrown, Burrad-”
“Yes! Inspector Burrow. And I showed him this note from my boyfriend, and he sent me to you.” She handed him the note. It was the torn-off corner of a sheet of notebook paper, and the black ink read,
Meet me at 231 at 2:31 with the £ or he dies.
“He left it on the table this morning and took Ethan with him and,” she could barely speak through her reborn tears. “And I think he’s going to kill Ethan if I don’t bring the money!” She lost it.
Jack breathed, a little taken back. He looked at the note and then his watch.
“Alright, try to calm down,” he said quietly. She breathed deeply to try to do so.
“Who is Ethan? Your son?” Jack began, and she nodded.
“And what money is your boyfriend talking about?”
“He-“ Jack motioned for her to keep it down and not draw attention. “He knows that I got a check recently for a good bit of money, but I need it all to make house payments and buy food, and… And I guess after the argument we had last night he’s mad and is going to leave me, but he wants the money.”
“Ok…” Jack thought for a moment.
“I guess he wants me to meet him somewhere and give him the money, but I don’t know where! I guess 2:30 for the time, but where!” she said desperately.
After thinking a moment longer, and eventually giving himself a confirming look, Jack sat forward and said,
“What street do you live on?” She gave him a weird look and said slowly,
“Ok,” Jack got out his phone and brought up Google. After a moment he exclaimed,
“Michael & Sons! 231 Mainstreet is Michael & Sons Communications!”
“Ohh… Oh!” the young lady said, a new light and slight hope in her eyes.
Jack again looked at his watch and said sadly,
“Well it’s 2:00. We’ve only got half an hour. I’ll get Inspector Burrow to bring some men, and if we at all can,” he tried to offer some comfort, “we’ll get your son back without you having to give up your money.” The lady breathed easier and smiled, nodding.
Jack drove toward the Michael & Sons building. His phone buzzed. It was Inspector Burrow.
“Hey. You almost there?”
“Just left the station.”
“Great. Thanks for agreeing to come.”
“Ehh, it’s my job.”
Jack laughed. “Well thanks anyway.”
But what was actually at Michael & Sons, Jack wasn’t really prepared for. Ok, on top of the building there was a decorative tower at each of the four corners, each consisting of eight pillars supporting a small, pyramid-shaped roof, with an open area underneath it; each tower was around three meters wide and five meters tall. Well a man, who Jack presumed to be the lady’s boyfriend, was climbing up to one of these towers with a grappling hook, with a little baby on his back!
Stepping out of his car, Jack peered up to where the man was nearly to the roof. Jack could barely see his face, but he looked outraged.
“Sir, would you mind telling me what you’re doing!” Jack yelled up, touching the grip of the conceal-carry handgun at his waist. He had an idea what the man was planning on doing, but he didn’t want to believe it.
“Yes, I would!” the man screamed. He had suddenly pulled out a pistol, and was now pointing it down at Jack, holding the rope with only the other hand. The baby on his back began crying, frightened.
“Just shut up, and don’t try anything!” The man continued.
“Hold on, take it easy, just tell me what you’re doing.” Jack cautiously held his hands up a little.
“If you don’t stop asking questions, I might just lighten my load one bullet!”
Jack let out a breath.
“Wait a minute…” the man said, squinting at Jack with a smirk. “Ha! It’s Jack Mason! The detective! Fancy that: Jack Mason at my mercy!” He laughed darkly.
“Well, Jack Mason,” he continued, and all laughter left him, “I would strongly warn you not to try following me up here.”
Heh. That’s exactly what we’re planning on doing, Jack thought.
“Do that, and I’ll drop the kid as soon as I get to the top!”
Jack’s blood ran cold. No. Not that. He swallowed and said,
“Sir, that won’t get you anywhere. Whyever you’re mad, doing that is not going to help a thing. It’ll only put you into a really deep hole that you probably won’t be able to get out of.”
“W-what are you talking abou-” He slipped a few inches on the rope and strained to hold on. He shoved the pistol back in his pocket and gripped the rope with both hands.
“I’m warning you.” The man pulled himself a hand higher. “You try anything, you’ll- will you shut up, kid!” The baby was screaming in fright about whatever was going on- the anger, the yelling, the height; and the man could barely speak over it. “You try anything and you’ll have this kid’s blood on your hands!”
Burrow pulled up, accompanied by two other police cars, just as the man reached the top. Jack waved for them back, and ran up to Burrow’s car.
“Get back, he threatens to drop the baby!” Jack cried.
Burrow’s face darkened as he realized exactly what this “Grant” fellow had in mind. He glared up coldly at the man as he but his car into reverse, and waved his hand at the other officers.
Once Burrow had engaged in negotiation with the man now on the roof, Jack quietly left the scene and made his way around to the other side of the building, like they had planned.
There was the fire truck. After greeting the sergeant, Jack utilized their ladder and climbed up to the roof.
Thankfully there were a number of HVAC units on the roof, so Jack used them as cover. He crept around these, coming closer to the corner where the man was, doing his best to stay out of view. Once he was close enough to hear the man and Burrow conversing, he knelt behind one of the units and pulled out his pistol.
“-And if any of you try sneaking up on me from behind,” Jack heard, “you are sure gonna wish you hadn’t!” Jack let out a quiet, but nervous breath.
“Sir, just calm down,” Burrow began, “and-”
“I know how much you like to talk, my dear Mr. Bobbie, but please, will you just shut up!” the man said sarcastically.
“Insolent man! I assure you, you won’t come out of this so smug!”
Jack heard a car door shut. Yes. She’s here.
“Ha! So you figured it out, eh, Katie? I sure hope you brought it.”
“Grant, I told you, if I give you that money I won’t have any left at all. And I need it to make the house payment, and buy food, and-”
“Which one is it? The money or Ethan?”
“No! Grant, we can talk about it!” the girlfriend screamed.
“Sir,” Burrow interjected, “you calm down and don’t do anything stupid! Already the easiest you could get it is 25 years!”
As they were talking- or shouting, rather- Jack slowly crept closer to the man from behind, staying under cover as much as he could.
Jack worked his way around a few more HVAC units, and along the short wall at the edge of the roof.
Finally, he had reached the tower. He knelt with his back against the corner pillar nearest the edge. He took a few moments to breath, but judging on the heat of the conversation at that point, he knew he didn’t have much time. He tried to calm himself and make ready.
“You listen to me!” the man was screaming. “Katie, you get out that money, and you Mr. Bobbie, you shut up!”
Jack spun around the corner, pistol raised. The man automatically turned and shot, and the bullet went through Jack’s leg. Simultaneously, the man’s right shoulder was shattered by another bullet and he flew to the ground.
The man Grant was sprawled out face-down, bleeding profusely. Jack was lying on his back, holding up his head; he was still aiming at the man, out of caution. But he hadn’t fired a shot. He looked around at the rooftops of nearby buildings. He smiled slightly. A sniper. Good show. After a few moments the man hadn’t moved, and Jack laid his head back.
Policemen filed onto the roof and secured the criminal, then returned the frightened baby to its mom. They discovered that the man wasn’t dead, but would have to be cared for immediately if he was going to live to be given a fair trial. However, this topic stirred some disputing among the policemen.
“Inspector, with respect, the man will probably be hung anyway,” one of the men said. “Why let him live just to kill him?”
“Sergeant, that’s not how we do things,” Burrow replied with edge. “The man will receive a fair trial, whatever we think the court will decide.”
The man Grant was put in an ambulance handcuffed, and the ambulance was escorted by two police cars.