The alarm clock on the nightstand read 3am when the quiet of Al and Rachael’s bedroom was shattered by Ozzy Osborne. The chorus of “Crazy Train” was playing repeatedly, waking Al from a less than deep sleep. After nearly knocking over the lamp and a glass of water found his cell phone. He knew it was Rachael calling. He had carefully selected that particular song for her ring tone when they had started dating and he had discovered she was the daughter of a railroad tycoon, who had passed sometime before they had met. Of course there were other songs that might have been more flattering for the beautiful heiress, but none that would have done her justice. She was after all, not the most stable woman he had ever been with. But she was definitely the most exciting. Their relationship had been a whirlwind and quickly escalated from casual dating to moving in together and finally engagement in about seven months.
When Al answered the phone, he had expected to hear a drunk Rachael, telling him that her girlfriends had decided to keep the party going from their girls night out at some after hours club and telling him how much she loved him. The voice he initially heard was not her’s however, rather that of a man who identified himself as Officer Roberts.
Officer Roberts explained to Al that he had pulled Rachael and that she was in no condition to drive. Instead of arresting her for driving under the influence, he offered to let her call someone to come and pick her up. Lacking the coordination to dial the number herself, she handed him the phone and just said Al.
After getting directions and thanking the officer, Al hung up the phone and quickly got dressed. He was was thankful that the police had stopped her before she had hurt someone, but he was confused as to why she was alone and driving. Being that they lived outside city limits, it wasn’t unusual for her to ride home with a friend, and retrieve her car the next morning. Rachael would refuse to drive even after one glass of wine with dinner so he found it hard to believe that she would drive after a night out with friends. And he couldn’t even begin to imagine why those friends where not with her now.
Al’s old pickup groaned to life with the turn of his key. As much as Rachael loved Al, she hated this truck. She had taken him to several car dealerships throughout the city, offered to buy him anything on the lot, but he would just not part with it. He just didn’t trust any vehicle that he felt was smarter than he was or required a team of specialists just to change the oil.
Al pulled out of the drive and headed for the city. It was only about ten minutes as the crow flies, but took twice as long by road. Despite all of the old money in the area, there hasn’t been much of cry to make access to the city any easier. The locals seem to be content with the lack of a major highway and tend to throw their considerable weight around whenever a local politician proposes any kind of development. This suits Al just fine. It makes for a nice quiet drive although deer and other woodland creatures tend to make things exciting from time to time.
After about 15 minutes or so, the stars start to give way to the lights of the city and it’s not long before he approaches the warehouse district. Al knows this area well. When he was a teenager, he worked in the warehouse his father owned on this side of town cataloging deliveries and driving the forklifts like they were his own personal go-carts. Like so many other family owned businesses, Al’s father couldn’t compete with the larger companies and was forced to sell. His mother died when he was three and the warehouse was the only thing that was keeping Al’s father going. He died shortly after the sale.
Al neared the address given to him by Officer Roberts, he saw a flickering orange glow and panic started to rise from his gut. As he rounded the corner he saw the only vehicle on the block engulfed in flames. Instinctively, Al sped towards the flaming car fearing the worst and hoping that he had misheard the address, taken a wrong turn or that this was some other poor soul’s stolen car and not his Rachael’s.
The old truck had barely come to a stop when Al jumped out and started running for the car. The heat from the blaze was intense, and he couldn’t get close enough to see if anyone was inside. He went for to call for help, but his phone was in the console of his truck about 100ft away. He raced back to retrieve it and managed to dial two of the three numbers required to bring the Calvary.
Al hit the pavement hard. He tasted blood and gravel. He could hear the crackling of the fire and footsteps behind him. A pair of snake skin boots with silver tips came to a rest in front of him. He tried to look up to see who they belonged to. A pop. Everything went black.
Al awoke in the hospital a week later. He had been shot twice in the back. The doctors had considered it a miracle that he had survived and the police considered him a prime suspect in the disappearance of his fiance. Her body wasn’t in the charred remains of the car in the warehouse district and none of her friends had even seen her leave the club that night. The police wanted to know who had helped plan the abduction, believing that he had betrayed Al and tried to kill him at the scene. All they just needed a confession and a name. Al didn’t know who was responsible or why they had done this, but he was going to find out. He would find Rachael and kill the man who shot him, even if he had to tear down the city to do it.