Erkan didn’t completely break out of his routine. He still had to go to work, but there were also some habits he didn’t want to change. He still took any opportunities to go get coffee at Hot Beans when Savina was working, and he still went to George’s for any deli related needs, usually once per week.
The sign always said closed ever since his windows got smashed up… but he was still open. However, something told Erkan that this time it was for real. Both the yellow police tape and the officer standing behind it said things were more serious.
“What happened?” Erkan asked as he approached the officer.
“We’re investigating a crime scene here,” the officer stated flatly.
“Is Justin okay?”
“Details are still under investigation,” the officer kept his face neutral, “Please move along.”
Erkan took a few moments to look at the front of the deli, but couldn’t see anything. The windows were still boarded up, and the door was closed- the nice glass door had been smashed up with the windows, and he couldn’t see through. There wasn’t much else he could do without bugging the officer, so he turned to leave.
Savina had just gotten off work when she got a text. It was from Erkan.
|Just stopped by Georges. It’s all taped up as a crime scene… O_O
Didn’t want to pester the officer too much…
Are Justin and Rosa okay?
… Be careful, lots of crazy stuff has been happening lately
Erkan hadn’t replied after about a minute. That didn’t mean anything. Savina didn’t expect him to immediately reply to everything… but he usually did. If something was happening with Justin… well, Erkan had already been shot just a couple weeks before. She couldn’t help but worry.
It was only a few minutes of walking to George’s. That was a convenient addition to her other reasons for going there. She didn’t really need anything at the moment… but it wouldn’t hurt to check it out. She would at least be able to confirm if Justin was alright or not. She did have the number for the landline there. It probably wouldn’t hurt to call.
The phone rang. And rang. And rang. On the tenth ring, it picked up. “Hey, this is George’s Deli,”
“-can’t come to the phone right now. We’re pretty much always open so just drop by.”
It was an answering machine. Rosa would have done a better job with the message… but it was a bit late to think about that. There was beep, “Hey, Justin… it’s Savina. I was just wondering if you had any pork in stock? I’m on my way over…” After a few more seconds no one picked up, so Savina hung up. She sped up her walking pace.
She saw the officer and police tape at the door. Not that she expected differently- Erkan wasn’t the type to lie, and especially not without reason. Savina got close to the door and scrunched up her face, “What the hell happened in there?”
“This crime scene is currently under investigation,” the officer stated.
“Yeah yeah, I get it. Did Erkan just leave?”
“There was a man here a few minutes ago, but he only stayed for about a minute,” the officer answered.
“Thanks…” Savina turned and sniffed, “Dammit Erkan, I’d better be worrying for nothing.”
Detective Simmons stepped out the door, “Who was that? Another customer?”
“Could be…” the officer answered, “Quite a few of them for this time of night. Asked about an Erkan.”
“What?” Detective Simmons blinked, “Was Erkan here?”
“Dunno. There was a man here a few minutes before, might have been him. Sort of tan skin, dark hair. Anyway, after I mentioned he left she hurried off.”
“Which way did she go?”
“That way but-” the officer watched as Detective Simmons hurried off, “Don’t you have to finish investigating the crime scene?”
“Dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit…” Savina walked forward with large determined strides, not quite jogging. “Is he some sort of trouble magnet?” Savina stopped at a corner to sniff the air again, unconsciously licking her lips. “That way.” Savina started up her quick pace again, “This had better be a coincidence… because if it’s not I’ll… do… something.”
Simmons kicked his knee against a garbage container. He restrained his urge to curse louding, just in case his quarry hadn’t heard him the last time, or the time before. Somehow she didn’t seem to run into anything. Meanwhile, Simmons couldn’t help but stomp on glass bottles and run into garbage bins. He was usually better at tailing than this, but it was dark and he didn’t have the luxury to take his time.
Maybe she was just used to this route and he was following her home, but she didn’t seem to be following a familiar route. Instead, she was following some trail of some sort Simmons couldn’t pick out- possibly because it was so damn dark. Maybe it was a coincidence. The neighborhood was bad enough that two crimes occurring around a couple corners in the same month wasn’t that big of a deal. However, if it wasn’t a coincidence, Simmons needed to follow through, and his gut told him he had to do this. It wasn’t just because of all the blood that had been in the deli, either.
Erkan’s head hurt when he woke up. His torso too. All of his gunshot scars were aching. He didn’t really have time to take in his surroundings before the voice spoke. “What do you know about Justin?”
“Justin? Who- wha… why am I here?”
“Just answer the question.”
“Why should I?”
“Because of this!” the voice spoke emphatically.
“Because of… what?” Erkan tried to move, but couldn’t. He was lying on his back and… maybe tied down? He wasn’t trying to antagonize anyone but just couldn’t grasp what was happening.
Suddenly the light flickered on, and a sharp face came much too close to his, along with a knife. “This!”
“Oh. What was the question?” Erkan swallowed.
“What do you know about Justin? Of George’s Deli.”
“He’s a butcher? I don’t really know much-”
There was a sudden pain in his arm as the knife stabbed into his right bicep. “Try again. Tell me something useful.”
“But I really don’t-!” the same sort of stab happened on the other side, except the knife twisted. Erkan had never been stabbed before, but now he knew why ‘twisting the knife’ was an expression. It really made things hurt that much worse. He almost wished he knew something to make it stop… but he wasn’t sure if that would help, and Justin was his friend. Why would anyone hate him anyway?
As the man held up the bloody knife and licked it, Erkan wondered what he could do to make the pain stop.