Tonight's chapter is brief, but it contains the promised cliff-hanger. You'll just have to wait until I get back next Friday to find out what happens.
I Didn't Do Nothing!
In a way, I was glad that the store was closed on Sunday. It meant that I lost a few hours' pay, but at least I didn't have to deal with the boss, who was showing signs of complete nervous breakdown by late Friday afternoon. On the other hand, I was afraid that the loss of revenue for the store might mean that they'd have to let some of us go, and I really didn't want to lose the job, crappy as it was. Business majors worry about those sorts of things, even if they're not accounting majors.
The one drawback to not having to go to work on Sunday was that I no longer had a convenient excuse for leaving home and going back to the dorm. Every time I would get ready to leave, Mom would come up with something that she wanted to do, or would want to talk about something, or would have a suggestion for something to do to keep me there. Finally, at about three, I said, "I'd really like to get back to the dorm, Mom. I think I'll take off."
"You could stay here tonight, honey," she argued.
"I know. I'd just like to get back into a routine. Everyone else is going to be back this evening, and usually we all have dinner together on Sunday night."
"You can have dinner with them tomorrow night," she insisted. "Please, can't you stay just one more night? I really miss having you at home, Tony."
I wasn't about to argue with her. I was too tired, and worried that I might have contracted Legionnaire's disease while I was at work on Friday, or on the weekend before, and if I was going to be that sick, I wanted to be home with Mom. It took about twice as long to get to school from home as it did from the dorm, but I was willing to make the sacrifice to keep peace with my mother. "OK, Mom, I'll stay. I should give Eddie a call and let him know that I'm going to be here tonight, so he and the other guys aren't waiting for me."
I called Eddie's number in the room, and he didn't answer. I hung up and called the switchboard at Mertz Hall and asked for the suite. Will answered the phone and told me that Eddie hadn't gotten back from his parents' yet, and that he'd give Eddie the message. I hung up and figured that would be the end of it.
At about eight, the phone rang. I answered. "Reardon residence, this is Tony."
"Hey, mo, it's me." Eddie didn't sound like his usual jocular self.
"Uh, I just got back, and someone tossed the room."
"Someone tossed the room. Someone was in here while we were gone, opened all the drawers, tossed all of our clothes and stuff out onto the floor, turned the beds over. Place is a fucking mess. I told the RA, he told the house managers, they called the cops."
"Did they take anything?"
"I don't know, man. I haven't had time to go through all my shit, and I wouldn't have any idea about yours."
"Geez. Aw man, I don't believe this."
Mom came into the kitchen. "Is everything all right?"
I covered the receiver. "No. Someone broke into our room while we were gone and ransacked the place. Eddie came back a little while ago and all of our stuff was all over the floor. I'm going to have to go home."
Mom gave me a look. "Tony..."
"I know, Mom. I mean, I have to go back to the dorm."
"That's not the problem. The problem is that it's late and I'm worried about you taking the train at this hour."
"I'll take the bus."
"Honey, the Cicero bus doesn't run as often at night."
"Well, then, I'll take my chances with the train. Mom, someone broke into my room. I have to go back and find out if anything's missing or destroyed, because the police are going to want to know."
Mom shook her head and turned to leave. "All right, do what you want, Tony."
I went back to the phone. "Eddie, I'll be there as soon as I can be."
The ride to the North Side was a little spooky. I was pretty much the only person on any of the buses or trains that I took, and when I was joined by other passengers, they did little more than to stare at me. They didn't scare me nearly as much as what was waiting for me at Mertz Hall when I got there. Someone had actually broken into our room and gone through all of our stuff. That, combined with everything else that had happened to me in the last month, had me really scared. I tried to convince myself that whoever had broken in was interested in Eddie's porno and my cigarettes, but the more I tried, the less I believed it. Something was going on, and it involved me, and now it involved Eddie and Kate. Where was it coming from? why was it happening? What had I done to piss someone off so badly that they were after me?
The subway pulled into the station at Chicago and State. The station where I got off the train to go to school in the morning, the station where I got off the train to go to work, and the station that I got on the train to go back to the dorm after work, or school, or visiting Rosalie. Suddenly, it occurred to me that all of my problems seemed to start happening when I started seeing her. As the train pulled out of the station, I looked, and could swear that I saw her just coming onto the platform. She seemed to disappear the more I looked for her.
I calmed down a little bit when the train came out of the subway and stopped at Fullerton. My surroundings were a little more familiar now, the faces of my fellow passengers a little more friendly. By the time we got to Belmont, I was feeling much better. Everything was going to be all right. I'd be home within the next half hour, I'd be able to see what the damage was, and I'd be able to calm Eddie down. I settled back into my seat and watched the back porches of Chicago go past as we headed to Loyola.
I got off of the train at Loyola, and left through the exit on the east side of Sheridan Road. As I came through the revolving gate, two men dressed in dark overcoats over suits, white shirts and ties came up to me and stood on either side of me, forcing me to stop.
"Tony Reardon, right?" the taller of the men said.
"Y-yeah," I said.
"Come with us. We need to talk." Each man took one of my arms.
"Where are you taking me?" I demanded.
"Don't worry, we'll bring you back," the other man said. "We just have a few questions."
I was put in the back seat of a white Galaxie 500 between the two men who had accosted me. There were two men in the front seat, the driver and another man. Once the doors were closed, we drove north toward Evanston.