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Beneath The Bricks of New York
Dawson Lee lived in a gleaming penthouse on Fifth Avenue in New York. He was an upstanding citizen, and fit the part perfectly with salt-and-pepper hair, and a business suit that was completely wrinkle resistant. He stood tall, well over six feet, and his piercing blue eyes seemed to see through everyone. He was soft-spoken, rarely initiating conversation, but his voice was deep enough to carry across a crowded room.
His business sense was rarely wrong. Dawson had made his fortune in the stock market, operating with a sixth sense that could predict trends like nobody’s business. Yes, Dawson Lee was a respectable citizen. On the outside at least.
Nobody knew about Dawson’s adventures on the shady side of the law, and he would kill to keep it that way. He trusted no one, and conducted his ventures wearing a black wig and a false name. His cohorts knew him as Wade Noles, the man who would do anything for money. Of course, with his newfound riches, he made sure to stay in the tightest circles of trustworthy businessmen. He went to fundraisers for new companies, dined with the old families of New York, and helped everyone with his donations to the city.
He made every attempt to keep his secret by hiring men to professionally wipe his private computer of all incriminating evidence, and only choosing the best agents to fabricate his fortune.
But what Dawson Lee didn’t know was that there was somebody he never expected living out on the streets of he city he conned. Somebody who was a truly honest person, who had never lied in her life, and who had stumbled on Dawson’s secret purely by mistake.
Alina Ray didn’t live in a penthouse. She didn’t live in an apartment, or a studio, or a townhouse. She didn’t even really live in a house. Her home was, by coincidence, right below Dawson’s penthouse, in an abandoned subway station. It had been forgotten after the big remodeling craze of the nineties. Newer and fancier stations were built, and the old ones were abandoned. It was more of an alcove than a station, if you wanted to split hairs. She wasn’t sure if it was a really old station or an old repair stop, but whatever it was, it fit her pretty well. Her house was much nicer than the living arrangements of some of the other homeless people who were living under a ratty piece of old cardboard.
She had it set up real nice too, with bits of old newspaper lining the floors and a few pretty things she had found on the street. The walls were crumbling cement, and even though bits and pieces crumbled off every now and again, Alina considered it a fair price for shelter from the vicious weather. The newspaper that served as her carpet was also piled up in a corner to make a nice, soft bed. Even though Alina sometimes awoke with lines of print tattooed on her cheek, she was grateful to have somewhere soft to rest her head.
Alina herself didn’t look much better than her makeshift house. Her hair was mousy brown, but it looked more gray because the last time she washed it in the fountain the patrolman had yelled at her, and she had to leave when her hair was still wet. She had run through a street sweeper’s wake of grimy dust and it had stuck. Her clothes were bits and pieces stolen from the garbage cans, and the occasional street sale.
A mismatched woman, her clothes went along with her forgetfulness. A holey purple sweater clung to her thin frame, bagging like a tent. An ill-fitting skirt with so many darns in it, it could have been a quilt, and shoes that looked like they were nice in the fifties completed her contrasting appearance. She was a kaleidoscope of color.
Alina Ray couldn’t remember her childhood. She couldn’t remember growing up with parents or friends. For all she knew, she could have appeared out of nowhere. Alina also suffered from short-term memory loss. This meant that she couldn’t remember whom she met, what he or she looked like, or even where she lived sometimes. Because of this, she often stayed holed up in her alcove, watching the pigeons hop in and out. She was a woman of simple pleasures, and was perfectly content to sit and watch.
In her home there was a pipe that must have connected the apartments above to Alina’s alcove. Nothing usually came down, but occasionally a few strips of paper fluttered like birds. Alina always looked at the papers, deciphering the words. It was something to do, and she often used the papers to add to her bed.
She didn’t know that those papers would become invaluable to her, when Dawson Lee moved into the penthouse with the pipe, which he thought led to the incinerator.
Dawson had moved into the penthouse when one of his endeavors had “cashed in”. The penthouse suited his tastes exactly, with chrome and glass everywhere. It also included a pipe that led down to the incinerator, a lead lock box, a highly secure wireless Internet line, and most importantly, an entire room that locked up with deadbolts, along with a fifteen-digit password for entry.
Immediately after arriving in his new home, Dawson began to unlock his secure briefcase, remove his papers from the Thompson-Lee venture, and toss them down the pipe to the incinerator.
When he finished disposing of the evidence he ordered Chinese takeout, and settled down to watch NASDAQ on his personal computer.
Alina was startled by the swoosh of papers as they flew down the pipe. She blinked as they landed smack on her face, obliterating all traces of light.
Alina sat up, causing the papers to flutter to the floor. She grabbed one mid-flight, and stared at the business-like layout.
“Oh no,” she muttered to herself. “This is not good.”
The paper was a letter to a Mr. Noles, informing him that his attempt to infiltrate the New York Stock Exchange had succeeded, and he would receive monthly payments. His agent was in a position of power in the Stock Exchange, and Noles’s stock would continue to rise, regardless of the market.
Poor Alina had never encountered anything like this before. At least, she didn’t think so. As she sat and debated over what to do, Dawson Lee, aka Mr. Noles was enjoying the view from his new high-rise.
Dawson sat on his brand-new leather sofa with a Daily Dawson, his personal patented drink.
“Aaah,” he sighed. This was the life. He felt a small twinge of remorse for the people he had cheated, but that was quickly extinguished with contentment. Surely it was worth cheating a few people to live in this kind of luxury.
Suddenly he jumped up, remembering a few more papers that needed to be disposed of. He shuffled through his stack of papers to find his sheet that held all the information regarding his faux persona. He glanced this way and that, a reflex reaction after so many years of secrecy.
Hurriedly, he strode over to the incinerator. He glanced over the paper one last time, then sent it on its journey.
Meanwhile, Alina was busy scanning the sheaf of papers to find anything important. As her hands busily made piles of evidence, her eyes would widen every once in a while when she would find something particularly incriminating.
Alina was so absorbed that she almost didn’t notice the single sheet of paper plummet out of the pipe. Luckily it landed on her bed, upsetting all her neatly organized piles.
Nothing but a subtle tightening of her lips indicated that Alina minded the disruption of her papers. She plucked the offending page from the wreckage, and scanned it quickly.
“Well that changes things,” she muttered. “I never expected-- well, this certainly changes things.”
The document was written in a simple, traditional typewriter font, and contained a list of columns. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Wade Noles was really Dawson Lee, public figure, and respectable citizen.
Name: Wade Noles
Short Resume: Stock Market break-ins (4), Internet hacks (7), Casino hacks (3), Irreversible computer wipes (3)
Weight: 183 lbs.
Name: Dawson Lee
Short Resume: Successful Investments (13), Unsuccessful Investments (3)
Weight: 183 lbs.
Hair: Dk. Brown
Alina didn’t know what to make of the information. Could it be true? Could the eminent Dawson Lee really be a crook? Alina never knew any of the news; it was an occupational hazard of living underground, but even she had heard of Dawson Lee. He was the handsome stock broker and a personal investor. He had made his fortune investing in things nobody believed could ever come to fruition.
The more Alina thought about it, the more she realized how much it would explain if Mr. Lee were a criminal. How else could he know that those tiny companies would become so big?
Hour after hour Alina spent carefully reading through the papers that somebody had mistakenly tossed down her chute. Her eyes grew wider and wider as she gathered more and more information.
That night she fell asleep with the sheaf of papers in her hands.
Something was bothering Dawson. He couldn’t put his finger on what it was though. He paced his rooms, one by one, looking for anything he had forgotten. He stared out each of the plentiful windows, looking for all the world like an irked salesman.
Dawson looked up at the pinkish-orange sky, then down at the trashcans. The incinerator caught his eye. It was on the other side as his chute. That was odd. He wandered over to the pipe, and pulled back the little wooden door covering it.
The chute appeared to go straight down. Of course, it could have twisted around to the other side of the building, but for some reason Dawson didn’t think so. He could see movement at the bottom of the chute. Maybe it was his imagination.
Whatever it was, something made Dawson stroll down to the incinerator, and look at the pipes that emptied into it. They were each labeled with a rusty number, one for each floor of the building. Of course, Dawson had the whole floor to himself, so he looked for number 47. It wasn’t there. After so many years preparing for his debut to New York, there had been many close calls regarding lost information. After so long in secrecy, Dawson was very familiar with the feeling of panic. He felt it now. Stomach plunging down to his toes, throat closing up, Dawson knew there was only one thing to do.
Over and over he searched the incinerator, looking for any sign that number 47 existed. Finally he was forced to face the horrible truth that the chute he had assumed led to the incinerator, led to somewhere else.
He rushed into the front lobby, past the faux potted plants, and the marble staircase, and up to the concierge.
“Hello,” he said breathlessly, “My name is Dawson Lee, I live in penthouse 47, and I was wondering where the apparent incinerator chute in my apartment goes. I couldn’t find it at the incinerator.”
“Yes sir, I think that chute was removed last month because the previous owner never used it. If you would like it replaced we can certainly get a crew up there to re-attach the pipe.”
“Thank you but that won’t be necessary right now,” Dawson calmly replied. His demeanor revealed no inner turmoil, but small hurricanes were currently ravaging Dawson’s organs.
He plodded over to the staircase and up to the elevator, where he was the only passenger. As the elevator climbed up the building, Dawson felt as though there was a great weight pressing down on his shoulders. He slid down the wall, eventually coming to a stop when he hit the floor.
Suddenly he shot up. All he had to do was find where the chute led to, and then he could recover his papers. Feeling considerably better, he exited the elevator with a swagger.
The thought never even occurred to him that when he found where the chute led, his papers wouldn’t be there
Alina carefully gathered the incriminating papers, and shuffled them together. She now knew the true reasons behind Dawson Lee’s miraculous gain of wealth.
Alina had been up all night trying to figure out what to do about the papers. She finally came to a conclusion. If she notified the police, the worst they could do was not believe her. It wasn’t like they could put her in jail for telling the truth.
Unfortunately, Alina had no experience with law enforcement. She made no effort to clean herself up; she simply grabbed the papers, shoved them in a bag, and strode off to the police station.
The station was old, but well kept, fashioned with bricks and wooden planks. Carefully manicured shrubs and bushes surrounded the single-story edifice.
Alina looked completely out of place as she stepped up to the building. Her mismatched outfit, and overall patchwork appearance detracted from the information she brought.
Alina hesitated at the simple double doors. She wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do. After a few moments of indecision, Alina squared her shoulders and pushed open the door.
If you had seen Alina walk into the station, you wouldn’t know what she was doing there. A small woman, she shrunk down even more so next to the bustling city of law enforcement. Men in blue strolled past her, never noticing the slight lady looking completely lost.
Finally, Alina broke out of her stupor, and glanced around to find the main desk. Spying a large mahogany table surrounded by a glass partition, she hurried over.
“Excuse me,” she mumbled. The man behind the glass didn’t hear her. “Excuse me,” she said louder.
“Yeah?” answered the officer.
“I want to report something I found please,” she muttered.
“Lady, if you’re not gonna do it right, don’t come in here at all. You should know you hafta go over there to report a crime.”
“Thank you sir,” Alina murmured, abashed.
She wandered in the direction the policeman had pointed, eventually finding a kind looking officer.
“Sir,” she asked, tapping on his shoulder, “Is this where I would go to report a crime?”
“Actually it’s over at the reporting booth, but you go ahead and tell me, and I’ll make sure it gets reported, honey,” he replied.
“Oh thank you so much!” she blurted. “I live in an abandoned subway station, and there’s a pipe that goes down from the ceiling, and one day these papers fell out that said Dawson Lee was a criminal, and I didn’t know what to do, and I have the papers, and I thought you should see them so you can arrest Mr. Lee and-”
“That will be enough to be getting on with,” the policeman said with a small smile. “I’ll write up a report, and you can be sure we’ll look into it.”
“Thank you so much,” said Alina, trying to figure out whether the policeman was serious. She hoped he would arrest Dawson Lee.
“All right, come with me now and I’ll walk you out,” offered the officer, clasping a hand on Alina’s shoulder.
Alina went with him to the door, where he held it open for her. As she walked out, the officer stayed there a moment longer than was necessary.
“Do I know you?” he asked, studying her face. “Because you seem really familiar.”
“I don’t think so,” she said, “but I might be mistaken.”
Dawson was, quite frankly, a mess. His hair hadn’t been washed in two days, his suit was rumpled, and stubble coated his face. He hadn’t slept in the past 48 hours, and dark circles looked permanently etched into his skin. He had searched everywhere looking for the bottom of the faulty pipe. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t found it by now.
Everywhere he looked was a dead end. He had searched all around the building, to no avail. He had asked the concierge, but there was a new one, a teenager, who was absolutely no help at all. His nametag read Tommy, and Dawson had a sneaking suspicion that they had found him on the street corner. The nerve of some people, openly begging for work and money. Dawson thought.
Yesterday he had gone to the dollar store and bought bags of brightly colored stones. He poured three whole bags down the incinerator chute, and listened for the sound. It sounded like it had landed on cement, but he couldn’t be positive. He bought a high-power flashlight, and tried to see down the tunnel. There was nothing. He saw a small twist, and a beam of light, but nothing else.
Dawson was beginning to wonder if he was going crazy. Where on earth could those documents be? Now he had wandered down the street to the coffee shop, which was solely responsible for his 48 hours of insomnia. He ordered two shots of espresso, chugged them down, and felt the buzz in the back of his skull. Dawson politely thanked the saleslady, who looked at him like he was crazy. He wasn’t surprised, given his haggard appearance, and the speed he had consumed his espresso. Dawson rushed out of the shop, and down the street.
Suddenly he had a flash of inspiration. He passed by a subway entrance, doubled back, and bounded down the stairs.
Down in the dark it seemed like anything could happen. Dawson stared down the long stretch of cement. He took a deep breath, then took the step that would take him into the inky blackness.
Alina had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. Already, she couldn’t remember all the details of her police visit, and the few remaining were fading fast. She couldn’t remember exactly what the policeman had told her, whether he said he would look into it, or simply walked her out. Alina had a niggling feeling that the officer hadn’t taken her report seriously. Did he write anything down, or give her a form to fill out? The details of her visit were disappearing. She grasped at them, but it was like trying to hold a handful of sand.
In the distance, Alina heard a stomping. It got closer and closer, and louder, as it approached. Alina huddled in the corner of her alcove, praying that the noise would just go away. As the sound came closer, Alina scrunched into a fetal position, and put her hands over her ears.
Dawson was making as much noise as he could. He figured if there was anyone down here, they would have heard him by now, and hopefully left. He stomped all the way down the dim corridor, peeking this way and that, looking for any sign of his papers.
The walls seemed to be closing in on him. Dawson did not like small spaces, never had. He wished with all his heart that the lights would suddenly brighten, and the walls expand. In short, he wished he were home.
He paused in his inspection, wanting desperately to go home. He wanted to go home, but he needed to find his papers. Dawson squared his shoulders, and prowled down the tracks with new resolve.
In a few moments though, something changed his mind utterly and completely.
Alina screamed bloody murder, hoping to scare away the noise. She keened and yowled; making sounds she didn’t know were possible. After several moments, she ran out of air, and her fervent cry petered out pitifully.
Dawson stopped in his tracks when he heard the scream. He couldn’t fathom what could make that kind of noise. He shuddered, then turned tail and ran. Dawson didn’t want to chance it. Whatever caused that type of noise could be dangerous.
He ran and ran. Dawson couldn’t breathe, and he felt like his legs were going to fall off.
Then, after a few more steps, he saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Literally. Dawson slowed to a walk, carefully checking behind him for anything unusual. He didn’t see anything, but that didn’t mean he was safe yet.
When Dawson finally made it out of the subway tunnel, he was hacking, and his suit was soaked through with sweat. He imagined his hair was completely unsightly. Dawson didn’t even want to look.
He spotted a street vendor and quickly bought a bottle of water. He chugged it down, all the while thinking it was the most wonderful water he had ever had.
Water bottle still in hand, Dawson hailed a taxi, and gave the driver directions to his apartment building. As he settled back on the comfortable leather, he found himself mentally searching the city for his papers.
Alina was still huddled in the corner of her home, shivering with fright. Whatever that thing was, she never wanted to hear it again. She was simply relieved that The Noise had gone.
Suddenly her eyes opened wide. What if the thing had been here for her papers? It would be a good idea to hide them, in case anyone came in and saw them.
Alina quickly grabbed the sheaf of documents, and hid them under the stack of newspaper she slept on. She didn’t notice the few papers she had missed, in the corner of the room, sitting on top of the bed.
Dawson knew there was something in the subway. Either someone was trying to keep him from finding the records, or there was something truly dangerous under the city. Whichever it was, Dawson knew it was his job to find out.
There was something important in the tunnel, and if it happened to be his documents, Dawson would never trust anybody but himself to find them. He would need some equipment first, though.
Dawson reached into his fresh suit, pulled out his brand-new, restricted number cell phone, and started to make some calls.
The next day, Alina found herself at the police station again. Instead of risking the metropolis inside, she would simply wait until a nice looking policeman came out of the building, and ask him if she could show him something.
Alina stood outside the station until the sun was in the top of the sky. She touched her cheek gingerly; feeling the burn the sun had left on her skin.
“Excuse me, miss?” asked a young officer. “Did you need anything?”
Alina considered for a half-second. This young man seemed perfect.
“Please, can I show you something? It’s important, and I need someone else to see it,” Alina replied.
The policeman deliberated. The woman looked harmless, but she very well might be leading him into a trap. He studied her face, and, upon seeing the obvious pleading, acquiesced.
As they walked across the mismatched bricks, there was no conversation. Alina was so unused to being around people, that she was perfectly comfortable with silence. The officer however was not used to tranquility. He was more suited to the rapid-fire action his job called for.
Every once in a while, the officer, whose name was Mark Jones, would clear his throat, hoping for a conversation starter to pop into his head. It didn’t work. Finally, Officer Jones accepted the fact that there would be no friendly banter.
When they finally reached the entrance to the subway, Officer Jones balked.
“What’s down there? Do you live there?” he asked.
“Yes,” Alina replied.
The walk down the tunnel seemed to take forever. Their footsteps echoed, and the sliver of light that marked the entrance grew steadily smaller and smaller.
At long last the pair arrived at the alcove. Alina wasted no time with welcomes, going quickly to the stack of newspapers. She dug around under them, completely absorbed in her task. She pulled a sheaf of papers out, and silently handed them to Officer Jones.
He quickly scanned over them, realizing in the first few sentences that these documents would be reason to arrest Dawson Lee.
“Where did you find these?” Officer Jones asked, knowing for certain that Alina couldn’t have made them herself. She didn’t even have access to a computer.
Alina stared at him, seeming to look inside Mark Jones, then she began to speak in a rasping, unused voice.
Officer Jones’ eyes grew wider and wider as he listened to Alina tell about the day the papers had fallen down the chute, about how she was so confused about what she should do, and lastly about how the policeman had pretended to listen to her at the station last week. Without doubt, Officer Jones believed her.
He couldn’t be certain that someone else had not created the papers though. Someone with better resources could certainly type up a document like this.
“I will go directly back to the station and file a report,” Officer Jones assured her. “I need one of the papers to have a fingerprint scan done, and I need to figure out where that pipe comes from. I should be able to get back to you in about three days.”
“Oh thank you so much,” she said, paling in relief. “You don’t know how much I’ve worried about this.”
“No problem,” he said. “Hey, have we met before? You seem awfully familiar.”
“Not that I know of,” she said, with a puzzled expression on her face. “But I can’t remember anything before, oh, about a month ago.”
Something about Alina seemed so familiar to Mark Jones. He made a mental note to check on all the old cases back at the station to see if she had anything to do with something important.
Several minutes later he left the smiling Alina, and headed back to the station, watching the square of light shrink in reverse order this time. He didn’t pay any attention as he reflexively made his way back to the station. His mind was back in the abandoned subway repair stop. He knew he had seen Alina before.
Dawson sat on the patent leather couch, staring at his cell phone, willing it to ring. As soon as it rang, he would answer with the faux British accent that Wade Noles used, and arrange a team to go down into the subway to investigate. Just the thought of the subway had made Dawson balk, and he decided the safest course of action would be to hire someone else to do it.
If somebody was down in the subway, the team would capture whoever, or whatever it was, and bring them up to the apartment for questioning. Dawson would take care of them from there. Nobody who had his papers would escape with their lives.
Mark Jones sorted through the old case files with a quick, rhythmic pattern of grabbing the paper, scanning it, and placing it in the discard pile. He had gone through at least a hundred cases in the past hour, but none of them rang a bell. He searched partly out of pity for the honest, bag lady, and partly out of curiosity, for he knew that he had seen the woman before.
File after file was thrown into the discard box, in an increasingly sloppy pile. Officer Jones knew there was some connection in the police files to Alina.
Several moments later, Mark picked up a file that had a familiar picture on it. Eyes growing wide, he scanned the common format, and realized that there was something about Alina that even she didn’t know.
Alina paced the small alcove, for the first time feeling restless and bored. She couldn’t wait to find out what the policeman would do, and when he would arrest Mr. Lee. Her mind wandered out, past the bricks of New York, past the grimy subway stations, up to the penthouse of Dawson Lee.
Dawson paced his penthouse, not realizing that far below him, a woman mirrored his movements exactly, pacing the same small square.
The team Dawson had hired came at a steep price, but Dawson would have paid everything he had to protect his secret. The MASA, Milestone Association of Secret Action was the best-known criminal team of the underworld. They had left the meeting place about forty-five minutes ago, promising the job would be done in three hours. Dawson had directed them to the hideous subway tunnel, being careful not to step off the stairs.
The leader of the group of thugs was a huge mountain of a man, taller even than Dawson. He gave a snaggle-toothed grin, as he reassured Dawson that the operation would be impossible to trace back to him.
Officer Jones made an executive decision not to tell Alina about the case he had discovered. He would wrap up the Dawson Lee/Wade Noles case, then take her out to lunch to reveal all.
Speaking of the Lee/Noles case, he figured there was easily enough evidence to have Dawson Lee arrested on the spot. He had informed his superiors, quickly prepping a team to confront Lee. They were ready to go at a moment’s notice; as soon as Mark finished the “personal business” he said he had to attend to.
Standing at the filing cabinet of old cases, he plucked out the Ray case, folded it inside his pocket, and strode out the door.
“All right people!” he announced, “Let’s go capture this criminal.”
The group of five officers headed out to their cars. They took two squad cars, speeding down the street with sirens blaring.
Alina checked and rechecked to make sure the documents were hidden. They blended nicely with her newsprint bed, and nobody would think to dig through the whole mound of paper. At least, Alina hoped so.
She heard distant footsteps, and hoped The Noise hadn’t come back. As the footsteps formed a steady rhythm, she spared a last glance around the room, then fled in the opposite direction as The Noise.
Alina ended up in front of the towering building that housed Dawson Lee. She wanted to see the show.
Officer Jones pulled up in front of the apartment to see Alina standing a little to the side. She waved shyly at him, and he smiled back. The other squad car pulled up beside his, and the three officers climbed out.
“All right, let’s do this,” Mark said.
The team walked up the staircase, and into the gilded lobby. The concierge didn’t give them a second glance. The kid probably thought they were the new security guards. The elevator operator politely asked them what floor they needed, and pressed the appropriate button, marked with a shining P.
The elevator shot up, faster than any elevator Mark had been in before.
Sooner than he thought possible, the elevator stopped, and a cool, female voice announced, “You have arrived at the Penthouse.”
The team exited the elevator, and strode to the only door in the hallway. Rapping sharply, Mark waited for the door to swing open.
Dawson jumped as someone knocked on the door. He calmed as he remembered the room service he had ordered. He turned and walked to the door, his stomach rumbling.
He opened the mahogany door, expecting to see the familiar face of the busboy, who always delivered his meals. Instead he was face to face with five NYPD officers.
Mark Jones wasn’t frozen for long. It was a good thing he recovered his senses before Lee.
“I’m Officer Mark Jones of the NYPD, and you’re under arrest,” he reached behind him for the set of cuffs, snapped them around Dawson’s wrists, and quickly spouted Miranda.
“You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?”
Dawson nodded numbly, seeming to not understand what was happening to him. The team led the suspect into the elevator and down through the lobby, where everyone paid attention this time. The concierge, Tommy, was slack-jawed and drooling. After all, it’s not every day the most influential man in the city is arrested.
Dawson was paralyzed. All he could think was that as long as the MASA team finished the job before they could warrant a search, there would be no reason for them to keep him in custody. He hoped and prayed that the MASA team wouldn’t try to contact him.
Mark shoved the crook into the back of the cruiser, then strode over to where Alina was waiting with wide eyes.
“That was amazing,” she said in awe. “I’m so glad that you caught him. I should probably tell you, this morning, there was somebody down in the subway station. I left before they could see me, but do you think you could send somebody down there?”
Mark thought for a moment, deciding whether it would be safe to send Lee down to the station by himself. He mentally split up the team, then told Alina, “Sure, I’ll go down with a couple of officers right now. Don’t worry about it.”
He left Alina by the building and told half of his team to escort Dawson down to the station, then walked over to the subway entrance with the other half of his team.
Down in the dark of the tunnel they couldn’t see anything for the first moments. Suddenly, one of the officers switched on his floodlight, swamping the subway with yellow light.
In sync, they all started walking down the tunnel, passing drips of water and old graffiti as they went.
“Turn off that lamp,” whispered Officer Jones, “I think I see something.”
It was clear as soon as the light was switched off that there was another lamp bobbing about a hundred yards ahead. They approached Alina’s alcove, and scrunched up against the wall. There was movement inside.
Officer Jones carefully rounded the corner, and peeked into the niche, only to see four burly men digging through the pile of newspapers. He motioned to the other officers, pulled out his gun, and upon hearing the others do the same, stepped into plain sight.
“Freeze!” he shouted, “You’re all under arrest!”
The men started, then turned around with their hands in the air. The rest of the NYPD team came into the recess, and handcuffed the men. Mark took careful notice of the insignias on their jackets. MASA. He wondered what that could stand for.
When all the men were securely handcuffed, they escorted the thugs to the surface, and shoved them into the car after a quick search.
There was no evidence that the men had found any of the papers. Mark Jones slammed the door of the cruiser and sped off towards the station.
Two Months Later
Alina was so happy she felt like she could fly. Dawson’s trial had taken priority, and he had been convicted easily. The MASA thugs had been immediately put in jail without trial, because they were wanted for skipping out of jail after many previous convictions.
Mark and Alina had become good friends, often meeting for lunch or coffee. Alina was staying in a hotel paid for by the NYPD instead of her niche now. But there was still one thing Mark had not told her…
“Alina, I’m so grateful that you helped me solve this case, and that you now have a place to live and regular meals. But do you remember how you seemed so familiar that one day?”
“Vaguely,” she answered, “but why is it important?”
“Well, when I got back to the station to report the crime, I did a little research on my own. I found a file about you.”
“About me? What did it say?”
“It was a missing person’s file for Alina Ray of Chicago. Turns out you were a big city prosecutor in Chicago. You disappeared and were never heard from again.”
“Me? I’m a lawyer? I don’t believe it.”
Mark pulled out the case file and spent the next two hours explaining to Alina how the justice system worked, and witnessed a spectacular phenomenon as Alina slowly began to remember her previous life. Soon, she was teaching Mark about the courts.
Over the next few months, Alina re-contacted her family in Chicago, did several press conferences, and opened a law office in New York. Occasionally she still goes down to the tiny alcove that she once lived in. It’s hard to remember the past, especially for Alina, who can’t imagine making her home in the abandoned subway station.
Dawson Lee was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison, and sits in the corner of his high security jail cell, trying to figure out where his plans went wrong.
Alina still suffers from mild short-term memory loss, but nothing could make her forget how she saved the city from beneath the bricks of New York.