Nothing but the truth, 1
We drove north on Sheridan for a few blocks, then made a quick right turn and headed toward the lake, which was at the end of the street. None of the guys in the car with me said anything, and I was in no position to say anything, either. I figured that I would find out what was going on soon enough.
When we got to the cul-de-sac at the end of the block, two men got out of a dark sedan. One of them was carrying a folder under his arm. When they came closer, the guy on my right opened the door on his side and helped me out.
"This is Tony Reardon," he told the two men from the other car.
"Tony, it's nice to make your acquaintance," the man with the folder under his arm said. "I"m going to show you a picture, and I want you to tell me if you recognize the person in it." He opened the folder and handed me an 8x10 portrait of a blonde, blue eyed woman.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I don't recognize her." I was being honest. She could have been anyone.
"Take a closer look, Tony, and answer the question again. Do you recognize the woman in this picture?"
When I took a closer look at her face, I realized that the woman was Rosalie. A blonde, blue-eyed Rosalie, but Rosalie nonetheless. "Um...she kind of looks like someone I know, but I can't be sure. The woman I know has brown hair and eyes, and this woman is a blonde with blue eyes."
"OK, then." The man smiled innocently. "Say, just for shits and giggles here, that this woman had brown hair and brown eyes. Would you then say that you know her?"
"Well, then, yeah, I'd have to say that I did. What's this all about?"
"What's the woman's name?" he asked, ignoring me.
"You tell me why you want to know it, and I'll tell you."
The other guy who had gotten out of the car stepped forward. "The lake's gotta be pretty cold this time of the year, if you catch my drift," he said.
I sucked in some air, afraid that I was going to be thrown into Lake Michigan. I was ready to tell them anything that they wanted to know at this point, but before I could open my mouth, the first man turned to his friend and said, "I don't think that'll be necessary." He turned back to me. "The name she used wouldn't happen to be Rosalie, would it?"
"Uh, yeah. How did you know that?"
"Did she send you this?" The man pulled Rosalie's letter to me out of his folder and held it up.
"Hey! That's mine!" I tried to reach for it, but the two guys guarding me held me back. "You're the guys that tossed my room, aren't you?"
"Well, you got us there, Tony," the man said. "You can have this back. Sorry about making a mess of your room." He gave me the letter back, then pulled a roll of bills out of his pocket, peeled off two hundreds, and handed them to me. "This ought to help you and your roommate get your room back together."
I snatched the money from him and put it in my pocket. "You know, the cops are back there dusting my room for fingerprints," I snorted.
"I'm glad to hear that they're doing their job," he said. "Now, understand, if anyone asks about this, you know nothing, right?"
I looked at the four guys surrounding me and the two guys back in the car, and sighed. "I guess so. But I want to know why you're so interested in her."
"That's really none of your business, Tony, and you'd probably be better off not knowing. That's the kind of information that gets people killed." He and his bodyguard went back to their car, and the guys who had taken me to him got into theirs. "Listen kid, if you see her again, tell her to call me," the man shouted to me before climbing in. The two cars sped away, leaving me there, freezing my ass off, to walk home by myself.
When I got back to my room, Eddie was sitting in the middle of what appeared to be the aftermath of a tornado. There was stuff all over the room, mostly his porno magazines.
"So, now you show up," he complained.
"I was unavoidably detained," I said in reply.
"By the guys who tossed the room on us." I pulled the hundreds out of my pocket and handed him one. "They said that they were sorry about what happened."
Eddie's eyes sparkled when he saw the money. He grabbed the bill from me and stuffed it into his shirt pocket. "Apology accepted. So what were they looking for?"
"This," I said, pulling Rosalie's letter out of my pocket. "They found it and then wanted to know where she was and when was the last time I saw her."
"Who were they? Mafia? FBI?"
"I don't konw. They didn't show me any badges, if that's what you're asking. They met me as I was getting off the L and took me down by the lake. They showed me this picture of Rosalie, or someone who looked like her except with blonde hair and blue eyes, and asked if I knew her, and where was she and all that. Then they got in their cars and left me there to walk home."
"Must have been the government. The Mafia would have brought you home," Eddie said. "Well, guess we should get this shit cleaned up."
I looked around and felt exhausted. "At least get the beds back together. I'm whipped just looking at this stuff."
"Yeah, you're right. The cops left you something to fill out, though. Said to give it to the RA when you're done with it."
"I'll deal with it in the morning." I hefted my mattress back onto the bed frame, adjusted the sheets and tossed the blanket over it. I set the alarm for six, got undressed and climbed into bed. I was asleep before Eddie could turn out the light.