“We made it.” I smiled at her.
“Thanks.” Her mouth curved into a grin for the first time.
“You’re welcome, and good luck…?” I paused as I realized I hadn’t bothered to learn her name.
“Angel,” she said, closing the door behind her. I watched her plod away, and I wondered what would become of her. Just as my hand reached for the gear shift, the screech of tires caused my eyes to tear upwards.
A car with tinted windows was right beside her. She didn’t seem to notice as she meandered along with headphones in her ears. The windows of the car rolled down, revealing a group of masked men with guns drawn. A cry rose in my throat as the sound of gun shots led to her collapse.
The car sped away, and hot tears filled my eyes as I rushed out of the cab and took her limp body into my arms. There was no response as she bled out. My head dropped as I muttered.
“You were almost free.”
A breeze rippled my copper waves, and even with the bomber jacket I wore I shivered as the smell of burnt tires filled my nostrils. Sirens wailed with me as a swarm of police cars encircled the crime scene.
A soft hand enclosed around my broad shoulder and I lifted my head to see a female police officer dangling her badge in my face.
“Horus Isles, I’m officer Mays and you are under arrest for the murder of Angel Rogers.”
“What?” I shook my head, confused as tears streamed down my pudgy face.
“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 speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have read to you?”
“Yes,” I nodded as she handcuffed and ushered me to the back of a police car.
As I sat there, my eyes met the officer May’s hazel eyes. Her lips pressed into a tight line, and I tore my eyes away from hers.
* * *
When we arrived at the police station, I was taken in for questioning. They asked if I wanted to make a phone call, but I declined, figuring just like I had managed to talk myself out of trouble for rigging poker games with weighted dice, I could do so here.
I clasped my hands on the table as I sat across from officer Mays. Now that I directly faced her, I could see the bags under her eyes. Based on her sallow complexion and wild dark, hair, it looked like she hadn’t had a decent sleep in weeks. If I selected my words carefully could work to my advantage.
“Horus, what was your relation to Angel?” she said.
“I was her cab driver,” I answered.
“If you were only her cab driver then why were you clutching her corpse?”
“I panicked. The poor girl was alive one minute and dead the next. She just wanted to clean up her life, and these heartless thugs killed her.”
“Clean up her life?” She narrowed her eyes.
“She was a drug dealer”
“Is there more?”
“What more do you expect me to know?”
“How about her connection to Paradise Road?”
“What the hell is that?” I scratched my sweaty forehead.
“A drug ring stemming from the dark net,” she said. I leaned back in my chair, causing a creak and folded my droopy eyelids shut, as I pondered on what all she had spoken.
“She said she had been a drug dealer for five years, and wanted out.”
“Why now? Officer May’s voice dropped a few octaves.
“She was tired of the lifestyle”
“It’s strange Angel would tell a complete stranger so much information if she was on the run. Don’t you think Mr. Isles?” officer Mays folded her wide arms over her chest.
“I guess she had to get it off her chest somehow,” I sighed.
“What happened with the criminals that killed her?”
“When I dropped her off, a black car full of masked men pulled up, shot her and sped off.
“How many of them were there?” “I don’t know; I’d say about four.”
“What type of car were they driving?”
“A Ford Focus.”
“When you were driving Angel, were you under the impression she was being followed.” She leaned forward.
“She seemed paranoid when she got in the cab.”
“She kept glancing behind her as if she were waiting on someone.”
“Did she tell you someone was expecting her?” “No, she said she was supposed to deliver six pounds of cocaine”
“Very odd, there were no drugs on her when we searched her possessions”
“That’s what she told me, at least,” I rubbed neck.
“If she wanted out, why didn’t she go to the police?”
“A state trooper pulled me over for driving with my fuel door open, and I advised her to tell him about her situation, but she refused.” My voice cracked, as another whimper burst from my lips.
“Did she say why she refused to get help if she were in such danger?”
“She said something along the lines of “the less I talk the safer I am.” I brushed a tear from my lazy eye.
“That’s unfortunate. Well, Mr. Isles, I’m sorry you were caught in the middle of such a horrific event. You’re free to go,” officer Mays said, staring at me as I stood.
“Thank you officer Mays, and I hope you find whatever scumbag did that to that poor girl.”
“Likewise, have a good evening,” she grinned, then instructed another officer to escort me out. From a distance, I could overhear officer Mays speaking to another officer.
“You really think he’s innocent?” a male voice asked Mays.
“He seemed sincere enough, but the forensic evidence will tell the story.”
“I don’t trust the guy.” he said. Mays chuckled.
“Most cab drivers are oddballs.”
Their voices grew faint as I breathed in the evening autumn air and the pink sunset captured my eyes. Everything that occurred in the past couple of hours raced through my mind: Angel, her killers, and the police. In a matter of seconds, I had been thrust into the middle of a crime scene.
I smirked to myself, as I slipped my hand into my faded jean pocket, retrieving my keys. One of my old weighted dice rolled onto the dusty pavement. It was never my intent for Angel to die, but when she failed to deliver for Paradise Road-the website I founded. Her fate was sealed the minute she opened her mouth. The hit I ordered on her didn’t go according to plan. My henchmen acted faster than I anticipated leaving a trail I was unsure I’d be able to dodge. I would’ve been better driving away, but it was too late for regrets. For now, I’d enjoy my last days cruising the crowded streets as an unassuming cab driver.