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Lemon Pie

Ruth Ann Hixson | Stephanie Matos

An email you received in error should be deleted immediately. DO NOT OPEN IT! Jill stared at the monitor wondering what was in that email. She wanted to do what was required the first day on her new job. But that wouldn’t help her find her missing friend who had sat in that very chair a week ago.

She called up the email but didn’t open the link. Instead she sent it to her home computer. Then she deleted it along with the one instructing her to delete it.

She began going through Karen’s files trying to find a clue of Karen’s disappearance. She found a file titled, Odds and Ends, but she needed a password. She puzzled over what Karen might have used for a password. Lemonpie. That was Karen’s favorite food. Looking around to make sure no one was watching, Jill typed it in. She was shocked at what came up. Working quickly before anyone could see, she emailed the file to her home computer. Then she deleted it from the workplace computer.

Jill was anxious to get home to read what was on those files so she didn’t go back to work af-ter lunch. Karen had told her that something illegal was going on in the company where she worked and had taken it upon herself to find out what. Now Karen was missing.

Jill went straight to her computer and called up the file she was ordered to delete. “On, my!” It was a list of illegal weaponry. She called up Karen’s file and found dates of deliveries, money paid and much more. Were they selling the guns or laundering the money? She didn’t have time to find out.

She called her cop boyfriend and left a message on his voice mail, “Come over. Now! I need your help.”

She decided to try to find Karen on her own. She had an address. She left a note on her desk along with two CD’s unto which she’d burned the files.

She hailed a cab and told the driver where she wanted to go. She looked up at the imposing brick building. All the lower windows were painted black. As she approached the door cautious-ly, she could hear male voices raised in disagreement.

She ran around the building and found a back door but it was locked. A dumpster sat up against the wall. Using a packing crate for a step stool, she climbed onto the dumpster. A piece of wood served to break one of the large panes and knock away the sharp shards that could cut her. She crawled through to a work table on the inside.

Seeing a door she thought might be an office, she laid her ear against it and listened. No sound came from within. She ramped up her courage and slowly turned the doorknob. It wasn’t locked. She eased inside to find Karen sitting on a chair bound with duct tape.

Karen’s eyes widened as Jill pulled away the tape from her mouth. “Why are you here?”

“They might hear us,” Jill whispered. “I’m going to get you out of here before…”

The door opened and there stood a man with a gun. “What are you two up to?”

“I know what’s going on here. You won’t get away with it. I already called the police,” Jill lied.

“How did you get in here?” he asked.

“I broke a window.”

“You’d better leave the same way. Go. Get out of here.”

He didn’t have to tell them twice. They heard a gunshot behind them as they scrambled up on the worktable and crawled out the window. Karen cut her arm on a shard of glass. When they jumped off the dumpster, Jill turned her ankle.

“Go get help!” Jill cried as the man came through the window after them.

Then Ryan was there pointing his gun at the man. “NYPD! Put down your gun.”

The man didn’t drop his gun but he put his hands up. “ATF Special Agent Alan Day. You’d better get these ladies out of here.”

“You don’t think I was stupid enough to come alone, do you?” Ryan helped Jill stand.

Jill could hear the sirens as a police cruiser drove back the alley toward them.

“How did you know?” Karen asked Jill when they were seated in the police car on their way to the hospital.

Jill explained about the emails. “I deleted them like I was instructed. But I emailed them to my home computer along with your Odds and Ends file.”

“That required a password. How did you guess?”

Jill chuckled. “Lemon pie. When we’re through at the hospital we need to go to Paula’s Pies for pie and coffee.”

About Ruth Ann Hixson

Ruth Ann Hixson is a retired newspaper journalist who writes novels, short stories, poems and book reviews. She was born, raised and still lives in Central Pennsylvania.

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