“That’s why I wanted to talk to you,” said Police Chief Wohnacker.
“All right,” said the illusionist known as “S.” “What’s her name?
“No name. Not even a face. Just a girl. A murderer. She’s been sentenced to imprisonment.” A breeze ruffled the limbs of the great oak in front of the police station. Next door, children scuttled about a playground with no cares in the world. The chief snapped the finished cigar out of his hand and curled the tip of his mustache. He was so anxious the illusionist thought he might light up another cigar.
S. wiped the sweat off his face with his sleeve; that day’s morning sun was a bright fire, kindled calm but hoisted with all the ignition of a three o’clock heat stroke. Even so, the chief didn’t speak like he normally did. He couldn’t get the words out. S. would have to push the conversation forward, save the chief from the fearful silence. “Where?”
The chief smiled with a false brightness, the luster of which carried sarcasm as much as fear.
The illusionist grimaced. “No.” He shook his head. “No. No way. Not going to happen. No.”
“One of the sergeants will have her handcuffed and taken to your abode.”
“Shit, Wohnacker. I told you guys that I can’t handle stuff like this. Not anymore.”
The police chief shrugged his shoulders. “’He’s on payroll, and the precinct jail is full.’ That’s what the commissioner says. It’s out of my hands, S.”
The illusionist had never hit a woman before in his life. But a person whose life is in jeopardy from an angry panther might do anything.
As soon as the policeman drove away from the house, the girl ran off, broke the cuffs off her wrists and headed for the back door of his little rural cottage. He tackled her over the living room carpet; she turned to take a whack at him. He wouldn’t have hit her, wouldn’t have even thought about it, but there was wild rage in her eyes. She wasn’t human; she couldn’t have been. She was a wild animal, a lion accustomed to free roam over the entire countryside. He would be her next victim if he didn’t act.
So, he hit her in the face, several times, with his fist. She was phased for a moment, but the blows didn’t injure her. It wasn’t that he pulled his punches, because he didn’t pull them at all. It was that her face was damn tough. She was no ordinary woman. She was no human.
He wrestled with her; she was strong, stronger than any human he knew, but somehow he subdued her. “Help,” he yelled into the bowels of the house, once he had her wrapped in a double arm lock.
Hard steps rummaged from the back rooms. His assistant, the honorable Sir Crogan, charged to his aid. “What’s this?”
“Open the cell door; my hands are full. Hurry, I can’t hold her.” Crogan flung himself at the cage with the same desperation that the illusionist owned as he held back the wild human tidal wave in his arms.
As soon as the door was open, he tossed her into the prison cell that was cut into a wall of his living room, and he clanged the door shut.
He sought to lock it, but found that the locking mechanism, which he had not inspected or used in many years, was difficult to close. As he fidgeted with the lock, she wiggled her hands through the bars of the cage and sought to snap his neck. He grabbed her arm and pulled himself free from the lion’s grasp.
“Whatever am I going to do with you?” he sighed. He met her gaze. “You are dangerous, deadly and desire complete freedom.”
She at once raked the dirty contents of her cage for any item which might suffice her next scheme. She found a small metal pin and put it to the lock he had just fastened. “And cunning?” He grabbed the pin, unlocked and opened the door, pushed her to the back and swept clean the dangerous portion of the cage contents with his arm. They fell to the floor, dust and grime pluming upward.
“There.” He locked the door back, and made a mental note where to tell the police chief to stick his murderous women next time.
The following morning, he entered the living room with coffee in hand. After his first sip of the black liquid, the cage door swung open by some unseen wind; S. took note that its contents were empty.
In his subconscious and as soon as his eyes had opened, he had known the cell would be empty—the slight air pressure change in the house was to blame. Still, it didn’t stop his favorite coffee mug as it slipped from his hand onto the ceramic tile floor.
“Oh shit. Fucking shit balls.” Was he mad at the fact that his prisoner was gone? Or, was he mad that the pieces of his favorite coffee mug that lay shattered around the floor? Or, was he mad that he had a giant mess to clean up first thing in the morning? Or, was he mad that he would have to brew his coffee all over again?
He was mad at all of them.
As he re-brewed his coffee and brewed off the hostility of his joyful morning, he thought about things. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized that he did pull a punch, without meaning to: he had not made the cell as secure it could have been. But then, he argued, he knew also that she would have escaped no matter if he had welded a cage of iron around her.
Later, after he had thought about it much, he realized that if he could find her, he wanted to tell her something. He knew she wouldn’t understand, though. She was feral. She couldn’t process human communication. She was a lit fire desperate to engulf any and all fuel within sight, a lion desperate for the freedom to travel the earth unadulterated, a desperado longing for the freedom of open borders. That was all her mind could process—the desire to be unfettered.
She couldn’t process that he was not against her, that he was on her side, that he would spend every moment of every day figuring things out for her, figuring out how to set her free, but she didn’t have the capacity to understand his sentiments. She was wild. She was the wilderness itself.
Now she had taken her freedom again, and he would have to search for her, hunt her down and wrestle with her, risk his life in her jaws to bring her back to her cage. It wasn’t to take her freedom away from her that he would seek her out, no. He would do it because she was too dangerous to roam about on her own, too feral. She needed someone to wrestle with her and keep her in place. Even so, he swore that he was not her enemy. He thought he might even be able to, in good conscious, call himself her protector. He was not against her. He would be her friend.
“Crogan, I’m going out. Might be gone for a few days. Mind the monkies, will you? And make sure my life insurance policy has been paid up to date.”
“Yes, sir. No problem, sir. Have a good day, sir.”