Heavens Alley - Chapter 8: Paper Trail

Eric flipped over to page 2. He leaned in to the left to focus on the newspaper placed on the table, while he buttered the toast on a plate in front of him. Mayor unveils statue.. yada yada yada... Youths run for cancer awareness.. He sighed. The news seemed to get more boring everyday. He thought of taking matters into his hands, create some news for them to post. The itch seemed to be coming back. It had been a week since his last kill. He turned to page 3. He scanned the headers as he sipped orange juice. Something caught his eye. It was a poem oddly placed in the news section.

You've been in the shadows for way too long,
What you've done to dem is just, plain wrong.
Not soon from now a rey will strike,
Revealing what real pain is like.
Inviting poets around Heavens Alley to submit their poems. Winners will be featured and awarded.

Eric read the poem again. The message was clear. He noticed the two typos. They were intentional, he knew. Dem instead of them pointed to the Dems family. Rey instead of ray indicated who was coming after him. He was Luci. He sat back. His mind told him it's a bait. Men are easy to provoke, and acting on provocation is when they make mistakes. Amora was smart. His narcissistic ego told him he was smarter. He closed his eyes. His thoughts raced back fourteen years.

He was in the 6th grade. Susan Delvaco was the smartest girl in class. Her beautiful golden locks also made her the most popular girl. Eric despised her. He stared at her hard from the last row as Miss Smith continued teaching profit and loss. Susan had just gotten herself 2 hours detention for talking to her bench-mate. No one else had detention that day. She would be alone. Eric blew out a loud whistle. Miss Smith stopped teaching and stared at her bunch of naughty kids. "Who was it!" she demanded. Eric raised his hand and feigned remorse. "I'll see you in detention Mr Luf", she said, and continued teaching. Eric smiled. The final bell rang at 4 and the class emptied in minutes, except for Susan, Eric and Miss Smith, who pulled out a plastic needle,a stitch holder and acrylic yarn from her bag and leaned back for two hours of knitting. Susan chewed gum and looked outside the window. Eric was deep in thought. He toyed with the circular pencil sharpener in his hand. It had a mirror lodged on one end. He took out a blade he had in his pocket and started gently pushing it into the edge, creating a fulcrum to pull out the mirror. With little effort, he had the mirror dislodged. He kept the sharpener and blade inside. "Miss Smith, I have some problem finishing my French homework. Can I take some help from Susan?" he asked in his most innocent tone. "Could I or May I would be more appropriate there Eric, and yes you may", she said and continued knitting. Susan scowled at not having a say in the matter. Who was this fellow anyway. As Eric walked closer she noticed him for the first time, despite having spent an entire year in the same class. He's actually cute. may not be the worst of Miss Smiths actions She thought. "Hi!", he said and sat next to Susan. "Could you help me with this?" he said and pointed at his notebook. She looked at it.

Miss Smiths nose looks like a giant spaceship no?

She giggled, took her pencil and wrote: The rest of her looks like an Alien boarding it!

They both giggled. This went on for an hour. Eric kept sliding closer with every note she wrote pretending he had to get closer to the notebook to see. She thought he was cute and found him extremely funny so she didn't stop him. With half an hour left to go, Miss Smith stood up, "I'll be right back kids", she said and left the classroom. It was now or never. "Susie, have you ever kissed a boy?" Eric quizzed. She blushed. She hadn't, not because of a lack of suitors, but because her mom said it was wrong. "Nope", she answered, not looking at him. "Me neither. Would you like to try?" he flirted with a wink. She blushed harder, and then to his satisfaction, nodded. He leaned in and pecked her on the lips. She closed her eyes and embraced it. She felt something cold slide from his mouth to hers. Maybe candy? How sexy, she thought. It slipped down her tongue and wedged itself at the back of her throat. She pulled back. She tried swallowing but couldn't. She panicked and gasped for breath, swaying her hands at Eric. Eric just stared. She was choking. Her eyes begged for help. Those eyes. He loved the plea for mercy in her eyes. Her face was going blue. Just then Miss Smith walked in, saw the girl thrashing in terror and ran to her. "What happened to her?" she asked Eric. He just shrugged. Susan, despite the lack of oxygen to the brain managed to think and point out to her throat. Miss Smith understood, lifted her up to her feet, gripped her from behind and in a sudden jerk squeezed her stomach. Susan hiccuped, and something fell out of her mouth to the ground.

It was a circular mirror. Eric just stood there. Susan was too distraught and in pain to talk. She was taken to the hospital. Later that week she blamed Eric for the incident but was too afraid to tell her mom how it happened, for she would have to admit she kissed a boy, so she simply said she couldn't remember. Eric was not punished as there was no evidence it was him.

He opened his eyes, coming back to the present. He now had a new miss popular to punish. The pretty Amora Rey.

Amora sat in her office. It was a hot day and the table fan on her desk was doing an excellent job of disturbing her thoughts with the humming sound but a terrible job at cooling the room. She had the letter Lucifer sent her in front of her. This was the only piece of item she had to start her investigation with. She had an idea.

She called a colleague who called a friend and in thirty minutes she was seated in front of Mr Benedict, part owner of Benedict and Koff. They sold paper to printing presses and magazines all over the country. They even sold to Heavens Messenger. She had torn off and brought a piece of the paper on which the letter was written. She didn't want to terrify the old man with the contents of it. "Mr Benedict, I have this piece of paper and wanted to know what type it is and who sells it. It's quite different from the regular sheets I use, much richer I would say." He put on his spectacles and took the sheet from her. "Ah yes. This is indeed different from the regular sheets we use, which is simply called writing paper. This here is an MICR Bond paper. It is used for printing cheques. They don't usually sell this to the general public, you know out of fear of having fraudulent cheques being made. But...", He said and seemed to think for a while if he should continue. "Please Sir, I cannot stress how important this is." She said. He seemed to be in two minds. She had to tip him to the one on her side. "It may help catch the person involved in the Patriot park killing" She added. His eyes widened. "Very sad thing, that was. You didn't hear this from me. Rothman Inc. manufactures these sheets and sells them to banks in and around Heavens Alley. Within our circles there's a rumour that, for the right price, he will sell to non-official buyers. You might want to start you search there."

It took her eight minutes by cab to reach Rothmans. She stood outside the building and contemplating her next move. He would obviously not reveal his illegal dealings to her. She took out her Motorola and made a call, explaining to the recipient what she had just learnt. In twenty minutes, Captain Kami Jones joined her table at a cafe opposite Rothmans. He was in civilian clothes, on Amora's request. "You have a lot of explaining to do lady. Start from the top, from the article you put out. If I feel there's even the tiniest lie in there, or that you're hiding details from me I'm going to drag your ass to the station and charge you with obstruction charges. You hiding that letter from us will be enough to put you away." He was genuinely furious.

Jones was a good cop, and he never let his feelings get in the way of justice. Amora knew this and she knew, though they had a casual friendship between them, he would stay good to his word of arresting her. She needed his help so she wasn't planning on lying to him. A cup of coffee later, Jones was updated on the Lucifer case.

"Let's go and quiz this Rothman fellow", Jones said and stood up, placing four dollars on the table. Amora followed him inside the building. The front office had a high ceiling and was lavishly furnished. Rothman was at the counter near the entrance. He seemed a very stylish man. He must've been in his sixties, as indicated by his pepper grey hair and slightly wrinkled face, but he was fit as a forty year old. He was slim and stood tall, dressed in a grey pant and white shirt under a grey vest. "Hello there", he said warmly and smiled. He had a very fancy store, and the Mercedes outside was too expensive to be bought by a paper seller. At least this is what Amora thought, though she had no clue how much they really earn. He must definitely have illegal dealings, she hoped. "How may I help you?" Rothman continued. "We are looking for something under the table." Amora began. Jones and she had prepared a story before entering the store. "I'm sorry?" Rothman quizzed. "We're looking for MICR Bond paper and we heard you're the man to go to", Amora continued. "Yes of course I am. Which bank do you represent?" Rothman asked. "You see that's the catch. We're not with any bank. We want to buy it, under the table." Amora pressed. Jones was walking around the store, his trained eye taking in every detail of the store while his ears were on the conversation. "I'm sorry, I don't know what you've heard but if you don't have documents proving you're with a bank I cannot sell you bond paper", Rothman said firmly. Jones had been undercover before. He knew how to deal with this scumbag. He walked to the counter and took over. He was wearing a baseball cap and hid his eyes behind shades, lest he be recognize. "Look here Roth, may I call you Roth?" He waited until Rothman nodded. "Great, so we're not from here and all we want is some bond paper. What we do with it is not of your concern. We are ready to pay, pay big. He pulled out a brown envelope from his windcheater, opened it and pulled out twenty hundred dollar bills. "There's two grand in here and there's more where that came from", Jones said and looked at Amora, who removed four brown envelopes from her bag, equally thick as the one Jones held. They were filled with newspaper pieces but Rothman wouldn't check, they knew.

Rothman did a quick count. Five envelopes including the one in the man's hand, two grand each totalling up to ten grand. He could finally buy that red gown his wife wanted, and toys for his kids. He would even have enough left over to add a new music system for his Mercedes. Greed took over. "How do I know you're not the cops?" he asked. That was enough information for Jones. He took out his badge and gun and pointed it to a suddenly panicky Rothman. If he didn't sell illegally he wouldn't have asked that one question. "Busted, you piece of shit" howled Jones. Rothman froze staring at the muzzle of the Glock 26. His mind stopped working. "Please. Sir. I will do anything." He squeaked. Jones couldn't actually arrest him. He had no warrant and no recorded proof, but Rothman didn't know that. His demeanour revealed his lack of judicial knowledge. "Now look here. Ordinarily I would be arresting you and throwing your ass in jail. Today's your lucky day. I'm only here looking for information." Jones said and signalled to Amora, who took out the torn piece of paper and placed it on the counter in front of Rothman. "I want information on that paper." Jones continued. Rothman picked it up. "I have to go to the back of the store, if I have to analyse it." Rothman said. "We're going to the back together", Jones added. The three of them entered the large back office/storeroom. He placed the piece of paper under a microscope on the desk and peeked through it for a while. Tiny beads of sweat formed on his forehead. The air conditioner was working fine, so Jones knew they had their guy. Rothman looked up and sighed. "I sold this. I have a tiny insignia stamped on every paper, which repeats per ten square inch. It is invisible to the naked idea, but visible under a magnifying glass. My way of advertising."

Jones and Amora looked at each other. They had a lead on Lucifer.


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