The hangers swayed above her. The sound was deafening to Nora’s ears. She grimaced and flipped her cell phone over plunging her into the dark. The man outside the door continued to talk.
“I know she put the policy in here somewhere.” A drawer opened and a rifling of papers. “That woman has no organizational skills.”
Another voice from afar. Wasn’t clear.
“Wait, just give me a second, will ya…Okay…I think I found it.”
A drawer shut; another opened. Nora took a deep breath. More talk.
“Will, give me a break. If Simone made the last few premiums, there won’t be any problem. We’ll split it down the middle.”
A muffled response from the living room, she thought, from the guy named Will…
Oh no, not a sneeze, Not now. Not now. She grabbed her nose and pinched. Mind over matter. Mind over matter. Nora’s eyes watered.
Then matter over mind.
Nora sneezed, or something… the noise the nose makes when it expels air while being pinched.
“Hold your horses, will you? Simone won’t be……what?”
Papers falling….footsteps…. the door knob turning…the click of the light switch.
Bright light. Nora squinted to block the light.
Nora crouched down as low as she could go, but not before reaching up to turn off the light. She kept her ear peeled to the closet door. Who were they? Was one of the men Simone’s husband? He had to be; otherwise, how would they have unlocked the door?
The conversation was not cordial, to be sure. She didn’t want to jump to conclusions. Paying half before the job was done and the other half once the job was completed didn’t necessarily mean a crime was afoot. After all, her client’s husband might be getting the apartment painted. No, the tone of the conversation was cold, threatening. A shiver radiated down Nora’s spine. Time to call the police. She had considered calling 911 before but changed her mind. How could she explain her presence to the police? Legally, she was within her rights to be there. After all, she was just trying to get her purse and coat back.
More shouting and a fist hit the table. She fumbled for her cell phone in the dark, but it was hard to tap the right numbers when her hand was shaking so much.
“911. Is this a medical, fire, or police emergency?”
Nora whispered as loud as she could. “Police, I think I’m in danger. I’m hiding in the closet, and I can hear two men planning a crime.”
The operator’s nasal voice interrupted. “I can’t hear you. What did you say? You’ll have to speak louder.”
“I can’t or they’ll hear me. Please send an officer. I think they’re going to kill someone.” She whispered the apartment address.
The operator’s voice was louder than her own; Nora covered the phone with her hand. “Who is this? Do you live in the apartment? Is your life in danger?”
Just then, the bedroom door opened. A male voice said, “Give me a second. I just need to get something out of…” Nora turned off her phone and moved back into the shadows of the hanging clothes.
Nora tapped her fingers on the seat next to her. She’d tired of watching the cars whiz by. Why didn’t the cab driver step it up? Hadn’t she made it clear that her flight left in an hour? Didn’t he understand that she still had to make it through security? Oh, this was all her fault. If she hadn’t lent her raincoat to her shivering client the night before, she wouldn’t have been in this mess. Instead it wasn’t until the earlier cab ride this morning, when she still had plenty of time to get to the airport and leaf through the magazines, that she noticed she didn’t have her coat, or her passport, or her clutch purse containing her ID and credit cards. It wasn’t until she rummaged through her briefcase for her ticket that she remembered that she had stuffed her purse into her raincoat pocket to keep it from getting rained upon.
Well, it was pointless to go to the airport, at least not until she retrieved the coat and her purse. She called Simone praying that she would answer. No such luck. A voice mail and a text message were the best she could do. Luckily she had Simone’s address. Maybe she was at home. “Please driver, I’ve changed my mind. Would you be able to take me to the address on this card?” She dropped it over his shoulder. He nodded without saying a word. Nora had no idea if Simone lived ten minutes or an hour away, but it didn’t matter. She needed her purse.
Thirty minutes later, after she begged the driver to wait for her, promising him an extra big tip, she hurried into the apartment lobby, hoping there wasn’t a code needed to open the door. The elevator took her to the sixth floor. Oh, how she hoped Simone was home and had her coat. And why hadn’t Simone called her? Maybe she hadn’t noticed the purse tucked in the pocket. Last night’s meeting was her first face-to-face with Simone. They had only talked on the phone about the visa case she was handling for her prior to last night.
Knocking a dozen times didn’t make a person who wasn’t home come to the door. What could she do? She tried the phone one more time, with no luck. Nora bent down slowly and felt under the welcome mat for a key. She couldn’t believe she was doing this. But desperate times. She let her fingers feel over the top of the door. Bingo. A key fell into her hands. She opened the door quickly and slipped in before any neighbors noticed.
Her eyes took in the spacious living room. No coat draped over a chair. She opened the hall closet. Nothing. Next, she hurried into the master bedroom and opened the closet door. There it was hanging as if it belonged there. She grabbed it off the hanger and checked the pocket just to make sure that her purse was still there, with nothing missing, when she heard the front door open. Two voices arguing about something. Two male voices. Something about paying half now and the rest when the job was done. Nora backed into the closet.