Chapter 4 : “I’m Not Crazy”
“Look, laugh all you want. I am not crazy.”
Erica composed herself.
“I’m sorry girl. You sound like you believe it and if you believe I do too but…”
“Then you don’t believe me.”
Tina got up from the sofa and walked over to the window of Erica’s downtown office. Downtown Chicago was one of the most beautiful places in the country.
Erica put her notepad to the side.
“Okay. Let’s entertain this for a moment. You gotta think about how this is going to sound. Your nephew died in a drug deal…”
“…it wasn’t a drug deal,” interrupted Tina turning around. It pissed her off that people were still saying that.
“Hold on, let me finish. Far as they know it, your nephew dies in a drug deal and everyone else flees the scene. You take leave from work to raise Keisha’s kids, your remaining nieces, and nephew who by the way aren’t really your nieces and nephew…”
“No, no, let me finish. You take them in after winning a custody battle with their Dad after he couldn’t prove stable residency and their drug addict mom gave you permission to have them. And now everyone involved in the case are connected to you in some way. Top this all off with the death of another black man by Lord knows who and your claim that Aliens killed Ronnie and abducted everyone at the Warehouse.”
Tina nodded. It did sound phony when you said it out loud. She sat on the sofa, resting her head on the pillow behind her.
“I’m not saying I don’t believe you but you a detective girl. You should know this ain’t gonna stick.”
“So, what am I to do then? I can’t keep taking these pills. It’s driving me crazy.”
“Listen, you need these pills so you can do your job without seeing little blue men walking around.”
“That’s not funny E.”
“Seriously, here’s what I think. Here’s my professional opinion…”
Tina smirked. “Now you wanna be professional?”
“Don’t be in my office judging me,” laughed Erica, “I’m the one with the pen.”
“In my professional opinion, I think you should see if you can find a connection between those who were abducted and people who may be working with these Aliens or whatever around here killing folk. They gotta be working with somebody or they wouldn’t be able to do anything without being seen.”
Tina sat up.
“They look like men though. That’s how they can move about without notice. It’s not like in the movies. The only way to tell is their eyes and sometimes not even then.”
“Still, they gotta be working with normal, everyday people too. Find those people.”
Tina looked at Erica and bit her lip. It was a start.
“Meanwhile,” Erica stood and walked over to her desk and tore off a piece of paper. She walked back to the sofa and handed it to Tina.
“Get it together.”
Tina rolled her eyes and took the prescription, “I don’t need it.”
“Yes, you do. Even if it’s just in case.”
Tina thought deeply about Erica’s words on the drive home. She did have her wheels turning. Who could be involved in something like this? Az did say it was a government cover-up. Tina laughed. This some conspiracy theory shit. Reaching for the folders, Tina scanned the names again: Antonio, Brandon, Chareese, Sidney, the two officers, Emmanuel.
Someone is missing. Tina tapped her fingers against the steering wheel, thinking back to the days they used to hang out. Her close ties to everyone abducted did make her look suspicious so she had to be careful. They were all so close at one time and she blamed herself for Ronnie’s death before meeting Erica and getting her mind right.
Tina went to High School with a girl named Ja’mella back in the day who had started talking to some cat from the hood named Antonio, who everyone called Tony. Ja’mella came back into Tina’s life when she filed a rape charge against Tony and his best friend Brandon who was in a committed relationship with Tina’s friend Chareese at the time. Chareese was also pregnant with Brandon’s baby. The case centered around ties to Big Sam, the largest drug Kingpin in Chicago. Big Sam sparked something with Tina’s sisterfriend Keisha and got her strung out. Keisha couldn’t pay her debt to Sam and that’s how her son Ronnie got involved. Sam recruited him to work off his mama’s debt. They were all connected in a “six degrees of separation” kind of way.
Tina searched her thoughts, remembering their card games and get-togethers. They had all been tight at some point or another. Though she knew them all personally, she wasn’t real tight with the men and the women had gone their separate ways until the case united them.
Tina pressed the button on her dashboard to connect her Bluetooth to the speaker and waited as it rang, gripping the steering wheel. There was only one person missing from the crew. A click sounded and Freddie answered the phone.
“Hey Freddie? What did you say the name of that Insurance Guy was?”
Tina’s face froze as Freddy gave her the name.
“Tina? T, you there?” Freddy asked.
“Yea, yea I’m here. Thanks bro.”
Tina pressed the button to hang up, still in shock. She had forgotten all about Black.
Black was another one of Antonio’s friends, known for his complexion. He had a big crush on her back in the day, but she was talking to his friend at the time. Eventually, she went to school and he joined the military. She hadn’t seen him since then. His real name was Byron and now he was, dead.