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Classic Round Robin

Chapter 5

by Clairisant



After telling Catherine to avoid the basement entrance until further notice, Devin was unable to restrain his natural nosiness.  He headed back to the basement for another look.


Giving the area a thorough going over, he could find nothing out of the ordinary other than the bullet casings.  Sitting down near a large cardboard box, he closed his eyes, trying to absorb the atmosphere as well as picturing what might have happened.  He let the reports from Vincent, Catherine, and Brian play through his mind as if he were watching a movie.


Devin was deep in thought when a noise from the section of the basement where the tunnel entrance was startled him.  He placed his hand on the ground to brace himself as he scrambled to his feet.  Crouching behind the box he had been sitting next to, he watched the doorway as he realized he had something wet and sticky on his hand.


Just as Catherine’s young friend, Brian, came through the door Devin looked down at his hand and saw it was covered with blood!  “Damn!” he cursed, startling the young man who had been in a happy daze after spending the last hour with Alice.


“Wow!” he exclaimed.  “Way to almost give me a heart attack, Mr. Wells!”


“Sorry kid, but I nearly did that to myself when I saw this blood.”


“Blood?!  What blood?!”


Devin was looking at the spot on the floor where the blood in question was dripping from the corner of the large box.


“Help me with this,” Devin instructed as he tried to open the box.


With Brian’s help it came open, and out tumbled the body of an elderly man in a gray cardigan.


“Oh god!  That’s Mr. Hastings?” Brian gasped.


“You know him?” Devin demanded as he observed the two bullet holes to the man’s chest.


“Yeah, he lives on the ninth floor with his three cats, Eeeny, Meeny and Miney.”


They were so focused on the body they had just found that neither of them noticed two men entering the room until one of them spoke, “Well, it looks like we will have three bodies to dispose of rather than one!”

His companion answered, “Yeah, looks like you two are in the wrong place at the wrong time.”


Devin had quickly jumped in front of Brian trying to protect the boy.  He saw the first speaker reach into his pocket and start to pull out a gun - probably the same one he had used to kill poor old Mr. Hastings.  Drawing on his time as a karate instructor, Devin gave a flashing kick at the man’s gun hand then dove at him with a body blow that he intended to knock both of them into the second man.


Mr. Two was just a little faster than Devin had expected, however, and had already made a lunge toward Brian.  Unfortunately for the young man, all of his combat experience had been with miniature figures and dice.  He was quickly overpowered by the bigger, heavier man.  Brian tried to break his fall by putting his arm out, but he hadn’t counted on his foot slipping in Mr. Hastings blood.  Down he went, and there was a loud snap as his left arm broke.


Meanwhile, Devin had managed to quickly dispatch the first man with some well placed blows.  The guy lay on the floor unconscious as Devin turned to see what was happening with the other man.  Seeing him leaning menacingly over Brian, Devin delivered a swift karate chop to the back of the man’s neck and laid him out flat on the floor next to the boy.


Seeing the angle of Brian’s arm Devin knew at once that it was broken.  Helping the younger man to sit up, he looked him in the eye as his hands were busy positioning the arm for what he was about to do.  “Brian, did Catherine ever tell you that I posed as a doctor for almost a year?”


As Brian answered with a stunned, “No,” Devin gave the arm a sharp yank and put the bones back into their proper place.


“There you go,” he said as Brian gasped in pain.  “You’ll need a cast on that for a few weeks, but it should heal just fine.”


He quickly found the gunman’s dropped weapon and handed it to Brian.  “They should both be out for quite a while, but can you cover them while I go and call the cops?”


“Ummm, sure,” Brain replied a bit hesitantly as he took the gun from Devin.


“I won’t be long. I promise!” Devin assured him, and when he got a nod of agreement, he hurried from the basement.


Taking the elevator to the lobby, Devin instructed the night guard to call the police and Catherine Chandler.  He quickly briefed the man on what had happened and then headed back to Brian.


Both men were still out when he got there.  Since she lived just upstairs, it wasn’t surprising that Catherine got there before the police.  However, it was clear that she had either been in bed or about to be, since she had a trench coat thrown over a pair of pink satin lounging pajamas.


Devin explained what had taken place; and when she threw a worried glance at the next room where the tunnel entrance was, he assured her that it was closed and secured.  He had seen to that while he and Brain waited for the cavalry to arrive.


It was nearly dawn before the police finished questioning Devin.  After a brief statement from Brian, they had sent him to the hospital to have his arm seen to.  When he was finally free to leave, Devin left by the main door of the apartment building; and Catherine, who had seen him out, went upstairs to change into work clothes.  She would spend the day questioning the two men, trying to figure out why they had been in the basement and had killed Mr. Hastings.  Her best guess on the latter was that he had come down for something and interrupted them in the act of whatever it was.


Catherine spent the entire morning at the police station interrogating the two men that Devin and Brian had discovered last night.  She had placed a call to her boss, Joe Maxwell, the moment she figured he would be in the office, telling him where she was and what she was doing.


She was just leaving after a grueling morning and was on her way back to the DA’s offices to report her progress when Benny, the bike messenger, rode up to her with a note to deliver.


Benny was cheerful and smiling as always, chomping on gum as he handed her the message.  Catherine grinned as she took, it thinking that it would be from Vincent, but Benny shook his finger at her teasingly once he saw the look on her face.  He had clearly assumed he knew who she was expecting the note to be from.  “Nope, not from the big guy today, Chandler, sorry.  It seems the girls want to see you for a reason.”  And with that cryptic comment he rode off just as fast as he had come.


Bewildered, Catherine opened the note in her hand and found out that Benny was right; it wasn’t from Vincent, but instead, from Olivia and Rebecca.  They were asking her to have a picnic lunch in the park, today!  She had been intending to go right back to the office to report to Joe about her morning’s findings, but a lunch break in the park sounded infinitely more appealing.  Even though she was dressed for work, she just couldn’t resist this unique invitation from the two tunnel women.


Catching a cab, she had the cabbie drive around until she spotted Olivia and Rebecca.  Telling him to stop, she quickly got out, paid her fare, and hurried over to the two women.  They were busy setting out a wonderful looking feast made for them, no doubt, by William, the tunnels amazing cook.


They greeted her cheerfully with hugs and invited her to sit down with them.  Catherine carefully lowered herself to the blanket they had set out.  Olivia handed her a plate and she began to load it with the goodies before her.  She told them how surprised and pleased she was with their invitation.


Both ladies said they wanted to spend some time getting to know her now that she was a part of Vincent’s life.  Catherine blushed lightly and thanked them for that.


“You do know that every woman in the tunnels has had a crush on Vincent at one time or another, don’t you, Catherine?” Olivia asked.


Catherine was shaking her head, indicating that she didn’t know that, when Rebecca chimed in, “Yes, but Father put a quick stop to that anytime any one of us showed any interest at all!”


“Why would that be?” Catherine asked.


“To protect him for some reason, I guess.  We were allowed to be only sisters to Vincent.  Father made that very clear to each and every one of us,” Olivia reported.


Rebecca giggled, “I remember how livid Father was when our dear sweet Vincent started seeing you!  You were someone he couldn’t control like he could us girls in the tunnels.  I thought he would blow a gasket when eight months after you had returned Above Vincent told him he was going to see you again.”


“I am glad that he and I seem to have gotten on better footing these days,” Catherine sighed.


“Oh I think he finally realized that you weren’t going anywhere, and then saving his and Vincent’s lives didn’t hurt any either!” Olivia encouraged.


“But the one great thing about growing up in the tunnels,” Rebecca said, trying to get Catherine onto the subject that was the reason for the picnic, “was that you were surrounded by other children that were just like your brothers and sisters.  I can’t imagine how it would be to grow up as an only child like you did.”


“I never really knew what I was missing until I got in school and heard the other kids talking about their families.  But I did have good friends that became almost like sisters to me as well.  In fact I still keep in pretty close touch with two of them,” Catherine told them.


“Oh that’s wonderful!” Olivia exclaimed.  


“What are their names?” Rebecca wanted to know, trying not to appear too eager.


“Jenny Aronson and Nancy Tucker.”

“Have you ever told them about you and Vincent?” Olivia asked.


“No, it wasn’t my secret to share…well I did tell Nancy a little bit, not about the tunnels or anything, just that I was involved with someone, and that it was complicated.”


“Which one did you tell?” Rebecca wanted to know.


“Nancy.  You see, of the two I had felt more in tune with Jenny.  We were both single, successful career women who were happy, focused and had our eyes on the prize.  But, since meeting Vincent and the rest of the community, I guess I am more like Nancy than I had first thought.  She is an amazing photographer and was all set to go and study in Paris after college; but she met a great guy, and that changed everything for her.  She chose a different life for herself and became a wife and mother.  She was willing to sacrifice one dream for a different, better one.  I know how that feels and how worthwhile that choice can be.”


“Wow,” Olivia and Rebecca said in unison.


Shortly after that Catherine reluctantly told them she had to get back to the office.  She added that she had a wonderful time and hoped the three of them could do it again soon.


Olivia and Rebecca cleaned up the picnic mess and discussed what they had learned.  They would tell Pascal and Devin what they’d found out and ask their opinion on which of Catherine’s two friends should be let in on her secret life.  Both the ladies already knew who they would vote for.


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