Jessica Morgan paced back and forth in the room avoiding the limp body that lay in the floor. All the movies she had seen made her believe that the thing to do at this point was check for a pulse. At seventeen years old, she did not know how to check for a pulse. She did not know how to do much of anything except protect herself. That is just what she did. She protected herself from Joe Spencer. Joe was somebody she thought she could trust. She should have known better. Nobody could be trusted. In her short years on and off the street, she had learned that time and time again. Yet, it was still the easiest thing to forget.
Should she call the police? That would be the right thing to do. Jessica knew that calling the police would only get her thrown back into the juvenile detention center again. Sometimes it took weeks before she had an opportunity to run again. No. She would not call the police.
She sat in the chair, still keeping her distance from Joe. She needed to figure out what to do and she needed to figure it out fast. In and out of foster homes since she was eleven, she had finally decided not to be a victim anymore. She ran from her last foster home to get away from an abusive man. Staying, in her young mind, meant the fault would lie on her own shoulders. She took control of her situation. She would occasionally get caught and hauled back to the group home for juvenile delinquents. As soon as the opportunity would arise, she would take off again.
Living on the streets taught her a lot. First and foremost, it taught her that she could not depend on anyone except herself. That is why she felt so stupid for trusting Joe. He seemed like a genuinely good guy with a good heart who had wanted nothing more than to help her. He had given her a job as a cocktail waitress in his club even though she did not have all of the proper papers to work. When he found out she was on the run from the group home, he tried to blackmail her for sexual favors. He failed. Now he was on the floor, unconscious or dead, Jessica did not know which.
She raised her head and stood, looking around the room. Wiping her tears away, she made another decision. She would take control of this situation just as she had to in every other situation that came her way. She saw the safe and realization hit her like a bolt of lightning. She knew the combination. She had only needed to see him punch in the code once and she never forgot it. She saw the duffle bag on the floor full of what she thought were his gym clothes. She quickly went over to empty the bag to find it half full of cocaine. She opened the safe and began emptying the contents into the bag. Jessica had never even dreamed of that much money. She had heard rumors that he dealt drugs out of the club, but she had not believed them. Stuffing the bundles of money into the bag, she knew it was true. Under the money, she found a gun and a box of ammo. She threw them in the bag for safe measure.
Keeping herself safe was now a priority.
Jessica knew that she had to get as far away as fast as possible. She left the club and headed straight for the train tracks. She thought about catching a bus, but she did not want to leave any trails. She hopped on the first open car she could find. It was dark and smelly, and had a few guys sleeping in what seemed to be their own urine. She found an empty corner and curled up in a ball, using her new fortune as her pillow. She had no idea where the train was going or when it would even start moving again. She had no idea if she would be okay. If he was the man she had heard that he was, then she knew he would come looking for her. How could he possibly know where to begin looking if she did not even know where she was going?
The train came to a halt, and Jessica woke up from a restless sleep. She stretched and yawned and took in the scene. Her head was still spinning the events that had taken place over the two days prior. She knew she couldn’t slow down, not quite yet. She had to keep going until she felt safe. She jumped off the train and pulled the long strap of the bag over her neck, leaving the back bouncing against her backside. She would give almost anything for a long hot shower and some clean clothes. She would not slow down long enough to get those things, though. “There will be time for that later,” she thought.
As she walked towards what she assumed was the city, she realized that this place was not much different from Detroit. There were barrels with fires going and homeless people all around them. There were boxes set up for people to sleep in, and the smell was pretty much the same. Jessica had spent many nights sleeping among her peers in the same kind of environment, just a different location. Her heart cried out for each one of them, because she knew their stories. Some had once had it all and lost it. Some were running from abusive homes. Some had chosen the life in order to adhere to their addictions. Whatever their stories, they were all repeats to her. Nothing she had not heard already from her time with them as people. She shook them out of her head. She had to worry about herself now. She had to focus on getting herself together and becoming somebody that nobody could find. Joe’s men were the only ones that would ever come looking for her. Nobody else cared.
Entering the city, she was able to conclude that she was in New York. She asked random people on the street until someone who would actually answer her helped her find a library. She had to research. She had to figure out the best way to disappear. At her age, she had no idea.
Her research taught her that the best way to disappear was to do it legally. That way, no matter what life brought her way, she did not have to change who she was. She needed to contact a lawyer, but she could not go as she was. She would have to present herself like she was older and knew a little about what she was doing. She went into several shops and purchased herself some clothing, shoes, hygiene items, and a few accessories. She checked into the nearest hotel, nothing fancy, but not one of the run down sleaze motels, either. She ordered room service and started running a hot bath. The smells of the soaps teased her nosed. They were so different than the smells she had experienced all day.
While she waited for her meal, she organized her new belongings. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to start with. She opened the duffle bag and stared at the contents. She was overwhelmed by the money that was in there. She pulled out the weapon, loaded it, and stuck it in a newly purchased hand bag. She would have to find a place to learn to shoot. Having a gun did her no good if she did not know how to use it. She pulled out a bundle of money and stuffed it into her purse as well. She judged each bundle at ten thousand dollars. Emptying the bag, she shoved the contents in the safe that was in the closet.
A full stomach and a hot bath made Jessica feel so much better. She no longer felt like a woman on the run, but instead like a young woman ready to conquer the world. After spending a sufficient amount of time primping if front of the mirror, enjoying what she saw, she sat at the desk. She found a lawyer when she was at the library. She had not wanted a big time lawyer that would draw any unnecessary attention to her. She had not wanted a small time ambulance chaser, either. She found somebody who seemed like a nice in-between. Robert Mitchell. His online biography told her he had been a lawyer for a less than five years. She had stared at his eyes in his photo for a long time before deciding he was the one she would go to. She picked up the phone and made the appointment. The next morning, she would meet with him.
She went to the safe and pulled out the drugs. She evenly dispersed one of the packages of cocaine into some smaller baggies she had purchased while she was shopping. She put a several into her purse and the rest back into the safe. She slid on her shoes and was ready to head out and see what she could do about getting rid of the unwanted substance. It would be best just to discard the whole thing, but Jessica could not just throw it away. To her it was an opportunity to make more, to have more. More money meant more security. Money would come in handy when building a new life. Although, she still had not decided what kind of life to build. She had her next few steps in front of her, but beyond that, she had no clue what life would bring. Whatever it was, it had to be better than the life she left behind.