No Tears for Sonya
Sonya Brown was getting ready to go out with her occasional boyfriend, Mickie Harris, when her cell phone rang. Her boss, Chester Guthrie, was on the line. They talked for about two minutes before he ended the call.
“Who was that?” Mickie asked.
“Chester, he wants me to come to the office tomorrow at ten o’clock. He says it’s an emergency.”
“That damn slave driver, what does he want that can’t wait until Monday?”
“You’re still bitter at him for firing you after that detective told him about you and Tanya.”
“That guy was lying.”
“Why did you have to go out with her when you know that she was Chester’s woman?”
“She begged me to go with her for a drink. We never went to any hotel.”
“I still want to know why you did it? I was calling you while you were with her and only getting your voicemail.”
“That was almost two years ago and we’ve gone over it many times since. We don’t know why Chester wants you down at the store tomorrow.”
“Maybe he’s doing some stock taking, but I worked until three o’clock today and he didn’t say anything to me.”
“You think he could have found out.”
Sonya bit her lips.
“The apartment and the three taxis you have on the road.”
“I don’t think it’s that. He can’t prove that I’ve ever stolen any money from his hardware store.”
“Still want to go out again?”
“No, I’m sorry. I want to know what he has up his sleeves.”
“I told you to leave from about four years ago, but you wouldn’t listen.”
“Leave and go where? You know that if I resigned, he would get suspicious. I’ve been with him, since leaving high school almost twelve years now.”
Mickie patted the gun at his waist, hidden by his sports shirt. Sonya also carried a gun in her handbag. It was a Smith and Wesson, Colt. 22. She had completed a firearms instruction course. She had been careful not to let any of her colleagues know about it.
“Do you want me to get Carlos to bump him off? We made him take care of Judy when she got too nosy.”
“Are you crazy? And as to what happened to Judy, you know that I had nothing to do with it.”
Judy Binns had been one of Chester’s assistants and she had begun to ask some awkward questions. One day she saw Sonya writing receipts for customers in an irregular receipt book. She had threatened to go to Chester.
Sonya had wanted to give the girl a good beating, but Mickie had suggested that they used Carlos to beat her up. God, she hated Judy. It was like Chester had set her to watch her. Sometimes she would burst into her office unannounced. She was still in shock when she heard that Judy had been killed in a hit and run accident. She had refused to give Mickie any money to give Carlos.
She remembered Alton West. They had been going around for a year before she ended the relationship. Alton kept turning up at her gate at all sorts of hours, begging her for another chance. He had lost his job, the bank had seized his car, in fact, he was almost bankrupt with credit card debts of over half a million dollars. True, she had helped him run up the credit card debts, but she didn’t want any broke pocket men around her. One night, she had called the police on him. He got into an altercation with them and was shot. He died the next day in hospital. His family and friends had blamed her for his death, but she felt blameless. Nothing came out of the case. The policeman who shot him claimed that he fired his gun in self defense after the man stabbed at him with a knife. She felt that after eight years, it was time to put the whole episode behind her.
“We don’t know what he’s up to. I think we should wait.”
“What if that detective is spying on us and reporting to Chester?”
“What could he report? The money from the apartment is sent straight to my bank account and remember that you manage my taxis.”
“Suppose he finds out about us?”
“He doesn’t know that I’ve stopped seeing Skippy.”
“I’m tired of this kind of life. We have to be hiding just because of one man.”
“You’ve just got to be patient. Things will work themselves out.”
“It’s like all his employees are slaves. He doesn’t trust any of them. That’s why he fast into their business so much. I’m glad I’m no longer working for him.”
Sonya came and hugged Mickie. She could feel his frustration. Maybe after tomorrow she would know what to do about Chester.
“Let’s go down to Randy Chin’s bar and have a few drinks. It might make you feel better.”
“Okay, but I just feel like going with you tomorrow and let him know about us.”
She wondered what Mickie was talking about. They had too many break ups over the five years they had known each other. She certainly didn’t want anymore relationships with him. She would soon tell him that they should let their relationship remain as employer and employee. That would put him down a peg or two, but she didn’t care.
“I’ll lock up the house and we can go.”
That morning, Sonya left for her work place at nine o’clock. Being a Sunday there was hardly any traffic on the roads. As she drove down, she thought of calling Mickie. He had dropped her home last night before leaving for his flat. As she neared the entrance to the store on Barnes Avenue in Constant Spring Gardens, she was shocked to see yellow tape and policemen.
A car had crashed into the gate! It was Chester’s BMW! The front doors were open and police photographers were snapping away. A
small crowd had gathered. She stopped her car on the other side of the road, flung open the car door and rushed out. She dashed across the road. Other police vehicles with their sirens flashing were coming on to the scene.
“Miss, move away from the yellow tape, you’re disturbing our work,” a young policewoman shouted at her.
Police photographers were all over, taking photos of the scene.
“It’s my boss’ car. What happened to him? Is he injured? Was he shot? I saw blood in his car.”
“Miss, move away from the tape,” an inspector growled at her.
Sonya did as the inspector ordered.
She saw a security guard and called him over. She couldn’t remember his name, their employer changed them so often.
“Just as I came on duty, Miss and Mister Chester drove up, I heard the gunshots. By the time I turned around, the car sped around the corner and disappeared.”
“How long ago it happened? Is Chester badly injured?”
“About a hour ago, Miss. It’s in his head he got most of the bullets. He looked dead to me.”
“You know what colour car it was?”
“It was a white car. Everything happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to see what kind of car it was.”
Mickey drove a silver colored Nissan Tida. She drove a Suzuki Swift Hatchback.
The guard left and went to stand with a group of onlookers.
Sonya took out her cell phone and called Mickie again, but all she got was his voice mail. She decided to wait around and see what was happening. Within a half hour most of the staff members were there. Chester’s wife, Delta and other family members were also there. Some of them, including Delta and some employees were crying. Watching them Sonya had to hold herself, not to join them in shedding tears too. She got on her cell phone to other staffers whose numbers she had and let them know what had happened. Some of them lived far away.
Everybody left after the police finished what they were doing. Sonya returned home and tried to call Mickie but all she got was his voice mail. She wondered if she had mislaid her gun, but she searched all the places she would have put it, but to no avail.
Two hours later Delta, called her, Chester had been pronounced dead at hospital.
A few mintes later, her cell phone rang again. She picked it up and pressed the call button.
It was Kirk Palmer one of Mickie’s friends.
“Sonya, I have to talk to you. We can’t do it over the phone. Can I come up and see you?”
“What for, Kirk?”
“It’s about Mickie.”
“What about him?”
“I can’t talk now.”
“Okay, so come up then.”
Sonya was in tears.
“I can’t believe it. Saturday night we were down at Randy Chin’s sports bar. Now you’re
telling me that you dropped him at the airport this morning and he’s bound for Montego Bay.”
“I heard that Chester was shot dead this morning. Do you think he had something to do with it?” Kirk asked.
Kirk was a former employee of Chester’s Hardware, but he had left three years ago.
Sonya started drying her tears.
She didn’t know what Mickie running away to Montego Bay meant. She went for her laptop.
Mickie had cleaned out one of the bank accounts! That was the one on which she had made him a signing officer. How he had managed to get into the account without her permission was a mystery to her. He must have used one of his tech savvy friends to do it. Nevertheless, the bank had a lot of explaining to do, she thought. She checked her investment accounts, these were intact and so was her main bank account. She looked at Kirk.
“At least he hasn’t left the island,” Kirk remarked.
“He must be planning to do that, or why would he go down there?”
“What should I do? I can’t go to the police.”
“Why not? All you have to do is to come clean to them.”
“Kirk, you wouldn’t understand. I have to find Mickie or else I’ll be be in big trouble.”
The next day Sonya went to work. The whole office was in turmoil over Chester’s death. Delta came in and took control of everything. Sonya was petrified lest any fingers got pointed at her for causing Chester’s death when she didn’t know a thing about it. She was gravely worried about Mickie and the loss of her gun. As she sat at her desk in the accounting office that morning she wondered what could have happened to it. She should report the loss to the police.
At lunch time she drove up to Manor
Park and had lunch at Oscar Chin’s restaurant. When she returned, she saw two police cars parked in the customer’s parking lot. She became petrified and wondered what they wanted.
One of the security guards pointed to the
two police cars and told her that detectives were inside questioning the staff. As she went to her office, she wondered what they were going to ask her.
Surprisingly the detectives only talked to Delta. They were locked up in the board room with her for about half hour. They then left. Sonya heaved a sigh of relief. It would give her enough time to find out where Mickie was.
She left work that evening still in a trance.
She drove up to her sister, Marsha’s house in Barbican. Her eldest and youngest sisters were in the United States. Marsha was the one she followed. She had a half brother but he was dead. Her parents were both dead. Her father, in a drunken stupor, fell down a gully in Red Hills, one night and broke his neck. Her mother never recovered from his tragic passing and died two years later.
“My God, so what are you going to do, Sonya?” Marsha asked.
They were in her living room talking.
Marsha was married to a senior banker. He was employed to one of the biggest banks on the island. They had two children, a boy and a girl.
“What I fear is that he could have used my gun to kill Chester,” she told her sister.
“I always told you that I never liked that guy.”
“I never knew that he would behave that way,” Sonya remarked. She knew that she wasn’t telling Marsha the truth.
“Does Mickie’s parents know about him?”
“I think that all they know is that he went down to Montego Bay to do some business.”
Sonya left Marsha’s house that evening feeling as if the whole world was closing in on her. It had begun to rain so she took her time on the road.
When she reached home, she tried calling Mickie again. All she got was his voice mail. She began to wonder if he had skipped the island. It was raining even heavier now. She was glad that there were no leaks in the roof of her small flat in Molynes Gardens.
She went to the office that morning, still petrified at what the police and Delta might find out about her.
Delta appointed her sister’s husband as the new manager. Sonya thought that he looked to be in his mid forties. Delta said that he previously worked as a security manager at a hotel on the North Coast. His name was Norman Minott. He held a staff meeting that morning where Delta introduced him to the staff. After that it was back to work.
By the end of the week the staff was beginning to settle down. She heard nothing about the funeral arrangements for Chester. She knew that it was early and the autopsy hadn’t been performed as yet. On Sunday she was feeling more relaxed. She still hadn’t heard from Mickie. She suspected that his parents were worried about him too.
On Monday a brash young detective
visited the office. He and Mister Minott were in the board room for about forty five minutes before the latter told her that the policeman wanted to talk to her.
She felt that this young policeman couldn’t be more than twenty five years of age. She was surprised that such a young man could be a corporal already. It showed that he was smart, so she had better not underestimate him.
He introduced himself as Corporal Dwayne Duggan. She gave him her name and address. She told him that she was a senior accounting clerk with the organization.
“How long have you been working at Chester’s hardware?”
“Over ten years.”
“Do you have any idea why he wanted you to come to the office on a Sunday morning?”
Sonya hesitated before replying. If she told him that she didn’t know he might feel that she was lying.
“Some new stocks had come in and he wanted me to help him to check them off.”
“He and you alone?”
“No, Hal Johnson and Merris Dehaney were going to be there.”
Hal and Merris both worked as cashiers at the hardware.
“Do you own a gun, Miss Brown?”
It was like a bomb had been dropped on her. She felt her pulse racing.
She looked him squarely in the eyes before she denied owning a gun.
He left but told her that he would be back with some further questions.
Over lunch with her colleagues, Layne Howard and Nina Holmes, she refrained from saying anything about her interview with the policeman.
They were at Joyce’s restaurant, a short distance from where they worked. Layne was a cashier while Nina was a counter clerk.
“I heard that Chester will be buried next month,” Nina told them.
“And up to now the police haven’t found out who killed him,” Layne remarked.
“Well, I’m sure it wasn’t I,” Nina declared.
“Chester, as all of us knew, had a lot of enemies,”Sonya stated.
She was of course referring to the threats
she knew he had received from at least three other hardware merchants. They had warned him about undercutting their prices. Adapted from a collection of short stories: Better Days are Coming.
Austin's blog: stredwick.blogspot.com