Cathy finished a call, hit the logout button, and took off her headset. Ten o'clock. Break time at last. Cathy had only been working as a telemarketer for a week and she hated it already. She stretched and walked over to the cubicle where her friend Jolene was working a call. Jolene scribbled a note and passed it to Cathy.
Cathy read, 'Please move my car'. She asked, "Are you parked in the two-hour lot?"
Jolene nodded yes. Cathy went to the window that overlooked the parking lot located behind the row of shops. The telemarketing office was on the second floor, above a travel agency that faced busy Lankershim Boulevard in the Universal City section of Los Angeles.
"Damn!" Cathy exclaimed. "Here comes the meter maid. Give me your car keys, quick!" As she ran towards the door Jolene took her purse from the bottom drawer of her desk and tossed it to Cathy, who made a one-handed catch and ran down the stairs.
Cathy ran across the parking lot towards Jolene's car. She had no trouble locating the six year old Toyota. Jolene had bought it only a week ago, but some previous owner had painted it a vivid electric blue that made it stand out from the other cars like a sapphire among pebbles.
When Cathy reached the car she dug though Jolene's purse until she found the keys. She unlocked the door and only then noticed the white Ford Econoline van that had coasted to a stop behind the Toyota and blocked it in. The driver of the van was a young woman with a haircut and glasses that made her look a lot like the Doonsbury character 'Honey'.
Cathy called, "Please move the van. I have to move my car before the meter maid gets here."
"I'm sorry, the engine just quit and I can't get it started. Can you push me out of your way?"
Cathy realized that this was the only option she had and went to the back of the van. Just as she started to push a man walked up next to her.
He asked, "Can I help?"
Cathy looked over the speaker, who appeared to be about fifty. He looked seedy, even though he was wearing a jacket and tie. His jacket and trousers were rumpled, and a beer belly covered by a dirty yellow shirt slopped over his belt. Cathy decided his looks didn't matter if he could push, so she nodded and turned to face the back of the van. Suddenly the man was behind her and her left arm was held in an excruciatingly painful armlock. The man's other hand was across her mouth.
He growled, "Get in the van or I'll break your arm."
The door in the side of the van rolled open and Cathy was propelled inside. The man let go of her mouth and locked a handcuff around her left wrist. He increased the pressure of the armlock and Cathy groaned. The man ordered, "Put your hands together."
The pain in her arm increased; Cathy quickly brought her right hand behind her back and the man locked a cuff around that wrist. He pushed Cathy to the floor and slammed the door shut. He shouted, "Move it, Lara! Head for the freeway."
The woman started the van and drove out of the parking lot. The man tightened the handcuffs and double-locked them; Cathy's hands were fastened palms-out, and she couldn't rotate her wrists in the tight cuffs. She felt the man lock leg irons on her ankles, and then he moved her to a sitting position with her back against the side of the van. He padlocked the leg iron chain to a ring set in the floor.
Cathy cried, "Who are you? Why are you doing this to me?"
"That's Lara, and I'm Bishop of BBB Bail Bonds." Bishop paused, and a sour look crossed his face. "Correction. I'm Bishop of the BBB Bail Bonds division of the Certitude Surety Corporation." Bishop brooded for a few minutes. He had recently been forced to sell his company to get money to pay off his bookmaker, and he didn't like being an employee instead of an independent businessman.
Bishop continued, "We've got 20,000 reasons for doing this, Jolene. You remember, that's the amount of the bail you jumped, and after we let you have it without collateral, too. That betrayal of trust really hurt me, and I hope to make you see the error of your ways before we get back to El Paso."
Cathy shouted, "I'm not Jolene! My name is Cathy Smith. You've got the wrong person!"
Bishop took the wallet out of Jolene's purse and extracted a Texas driver's license. "You match the description on this license, and the picture looks like you, too."
Cathy realized that this was true. She and Jolene were close to the same age, height, and weight, and they were both blonde, although Jolene's hair color was natural and her's wasn't. There was also a close enough facial resemblance that people occasionally mistook them for sisters. She pleaded, "I know we look alike, but I'm not Jolene! You must believe me!"
Bishop scoffed, "Yeah, I suppose you carry her purse and drive her car all the time. By the way, the next time you're a fugitive don't register a car in your own name. The internet makes it easy to check state records."
Bishop pulled a ball gag out of his pocket. "I'm tired of your yammering. Open your mouth."
Cathy shook her head. Bishop squeezed her right breast and when she opened her mouth to scream he jammed in the gag and tightly buckled the strap. He pulled Cathy away from the side of the van and attached a chain to the handcuffs with a padlock. He put the other end of the chain through a ring about halfway up the side of the van and then looped it down and locked the padlock. The chain pulled up Cathy's arms and she was forced to bend over to relieve the strain on her shoulders. Bishop patted her on the head and climbed into the front seat of the van.
Lara asked, "Aren't we supposed to let the police know when we apprehend a fugitive, sir?"
"Only if we had to shoot somebody. We don't need extra paperwork." He looked out the window. "Where are we now?"
"Glendale, sir. We'll be on Interstate 210 soon."
"OK, just follow it to I-10. We'll stay on that until we get to El Paso."
Traffic was bad, even for Los Angeles. An accident near Fontana caused Interstate 10 to back up for miles. It took them over three hours to reach Banning, the eastern-most city of the Los Angeles megaplex, and this part of the journey could usually be driven in less than two hours.
Lara squirmed in her seat. "I've got to stop at the next rest area, sir."
"OK, I could use a break myself. Our prisoner will want one too, but she may not get it."
"Why not, sir?"
"The only way to handle the kind of scum we deal with is to treat them rough right from the start, so they know who's in charge. They become much more cooperative once they realize that you are the one who decides if they're comfortable or miserable."
"That seems awfully harsh, sir."
"Maybe, but I'm the boss here and that's how I do things."
Lara guided the van into the Whitewater Rest Area and parked. She looked into the back of the van and was shocked by Cathy's condition. Cathy's head was bowed and a puddle of drool and tears had formed in her lap. Her hands were dark red. Lara started to go into the back of the van but Bishop blocked her.
"You go pee. I'll take care of Jolene." Bishop watched Lara until she reached the rest room, and then he moved into the back of the van.
Cathy was in agony. Her jaw felt like it was going to fall off, and the handcuffs were cutting into her wrists. These pains drowned out the ache in her shoulders and the cramp in her leg. She looked up when Bishop sat down next to her.
He removed Cathy's gag. "I bet you'd like me to take off the handcuffs and let you go pee."
Cathy still couldn't talk so she just nodded.
"That can happen if you do as I tell you. If you don't, you stay as you are until we stop for gas two hours from now. Are you going to cooperate?"
Cathy nodded yes.
"That's smart." Bishop released the chain that held Cathy's wrists to the side of the van and unlocked the leg irons from the ring in the floor. She moaned as the pressure on her wrists eased. He lay on his back, unzipped his fly, and ordered, "Get your mouth over here."
Cathy pleaded, "No, please don't make me do that."
Bishop pointed to a ring attached to the ceiling of the van. "I can lock your cuffs to that ring, and you can ride the rest of the way standing up. Your choice."
Cathy had to decide between pain and humiliation. She had had enough pain, so she crawled over to Bishop and used her teeth to pull down his shorts. She took his erection in her mouth and licked and sucked until he came.
Bishop sat up and was zipping his fly when Lara returned. She knew at once what had happened. "Mr. Bishop! Having sex with a prisoner is against company policy!"
"Can it, Lara. Jolene was just voluntarily expressing her appreciation. Take her to the toilet. You can cuff her hands in front, but use a transport chain." He got out of the van and headed for the rest room.
Lara apologized, "I'm really sorry. I shouldn't have left you alone with him. Are you all right?"
"It was disgusting, but better than being hurt. Please take off the handcuffs. My hands are numb."
Lara freed Cathy's hands and massaged them until their color was almost normal. "We'd better get moving. I have to hook you up again." Lara wrapped the transport chain around Cathy's waist and put a cuff through the keeper link to hold it in place. She double locked the cuffs around Cathy's wrists and helped her out the side door of the van. When they were outside Lara used a padlock and the excess length of the transport chain to pull up the leg iron chain and keep it from dragging on the ground.
Cathy looked around the rest area. There seemed to be a lull in the traffic, because there were only a few cars and trucks in the parking lot. She was glad, because this meant that fewer people would see her in chains. Lara held her right arm above the elbow and they slowly walked to the rest room, accompanied by the chain's unmusical jingling.
Lara commented, "I'm glad we're making this trip in April. In the summer the temperature here is always over 100 degrees."
Lara guided Cathy into the rest room and went into a toilet stall with her. Cathy was wearing a dark blue, knee-length skirt and a white blouse. Lara lifted the skirt and pulled down Cathy's pantyhose and panties and helped her sit on the toilet.
After Cathy had urinated she asked, "Can you take off the pantyhose? Unless you have a dress code, of course."
"No problem." Lara took off Cathy's shoes and leg irons and removed the pantyhose.
"Can you wait until we get back to the van before you chain my feet?"
"No, we better not." She locked the leg irons on Cathy's ankles. Cathy stepped into her shoes and they left the stall.
Just before Lara and Cathy got to the rest room door it opened and a woman and a little girl entered. The little girl said, "Mommy, why does that lady have chains?"
The woman was embarrassed. She gave Lara a look that said she would let Lara answer the question.
Lara knelt so that she was eye-to-eye with the little girl. "She was a bad girl. She did things her mommy told her not to do."
The little girl's eyes opened wide. She turned and buried her face in her mother's skirt.
When they were outside Cathy asked, "Can we stop at the drinking fountain? I want to wash out my mouth."
When the journey resumed Cathy was sitting in the same place as before, but her hands were still cuffed in front. She was surprised to find that right now she wasn't in any real pain, but she knew that this would change as the hours went by and the metal floor pounded her unprotected bottom.
After about a half hour Cathy felt the van leave the freeway. Bishop moved into the back of the van and sat next to her. "We're stopping in Indio to get some food. I don't want any noise from you, so open up." Cathy obediently opened her mouth and Bishop inserted the ball gag. He sat next to her until the van left the McDonald's drive-up window, and when the van was back on the freeway he removed the gag and gave her a Big Mac. The chain around her waist was loose enough to allow her to feed herself.
For the next two hours Cathy dozed. She couldn't see anything, but she had been this way before and she knew that they were traveling through a desert, with a gas pipeline pumping station the only memorable landmark in a hundred miles.
Cathy woke up when Bishop sat beside her again. "We just entered Arizona and we're going to stop for gas. Open up."
Once again Cathy obediently opened her mouth and Bishop inserted the ball gag.
A few minutes after the van left the truck stop Lara drove into the Ehrenberg Rest Area. Bishop ordered, "You go pee, Lara. I'll watch Jolene until you get back."
"No, sir. I'll take her with me."
Bishop started to say something, but then he got out of the van and walked away. Lara took out the gag, and then unlocked the leg irons from the floor ring and helped Cathy out of the side door. Cathy walked to the sidewalk and waited while Lara locked the van.
A young woman walked up to her and exclaimed, "Wow! I never had the nerve to appear in public chained like that."
Lara walked up to Cathy and took her arm. The young woman said, "Oh, you're a real prisoner!"
On the road again, the next 250 miles were a blur to Cathy. Her bottom was hurting and she really wanted to stretch her arms and legs. All she could see through the windshield were the overhead signs that crossed the highway, but this let her know when the van drove through Phoenix and Tucson.
It had been dark for several hours when the van left the Interstate and drove into a cheap motel outside of Benson, Arizona. Lara stopped the van outside the motel office and Bishop went inside; a few minutes later he came out again with two room keys. He opened the door on the driver's side and gave one key to Lara. "Move over. You can watch Jolene while I try to find us something to eat."
Bishop drove the van to the room and waited until Lara helped Cathy out of the side door, and then he drove off. A man looked out of the window of the room next door and his eyes widened when he saw Cathy in chains. She looked at him and mouthed 'help'.
Lara was struggling with a stuck door; when the door finally opened Lara pulled Cathy inside the room and locked the door. Then she ran into the bathroom and used the toilet. When she finished she helped Cathy pee.
A few minutes later there was a pounding on the door. Lara jumped off the bed and yelled, "Who is it?"
"Police! Open the door!"
When Lara opened the door two deputy sheriffs rushed into the room. One pushed Lara against the wall and frisked her and the other pointed his pistol at Cathy, who was still chained and sitting in a chair.
The first deputy handcuffed Lara. He asked Cathy, "Are you being kidnapped?"
"Yes, in a way."
Lara interrupted, "That woman is a fugitive. I'm a bail agent and I have a warrant for her."
"Oh, yeah? Let's see it."
"My partner has it in our van. He went to get some food and should be back in a few minutes."
The first deputy said to the other deputy, "You move our car out of sight and wait outside. I'll stay here with the women." He asked Lara, "What is your partner driving?"
"A white Ford van."
Everyone waited for fifteen tense minutes until Bishop knocked on the door. The deputy greeted him with a pistol pointed at his face. The other deputy blocked the van with his car and pointed his pistol at Bishop's back. Wisely, Bishop didn't move as he was handcuffed and searched.
The deputy demanded, "Do you have a warrant for the blonde?"
"Yes, it's in the briefcase behind the front seat."
The second deputy got the briefcase and everyone moved into the motel room.
The first deputy examined the paperwork. "This looks OK to me. What do you say?"
"That may be a good warrant, but I'm not Jolene; my name is Cathy Smith. These people grabbed me by mistake."
Bishop interrupted, "That wallet has the ID she was carrying when we found her."
The deputy exclaimed, "This is too complicated for me! We can sort it out at the substation."
The deputies loaded Bishop and Lara into the police car and Cathy into the van. They drove to the substation and herded everyone inside. A young woman in a business suit was sitting at a desk looking through some papers. The deputy was relieved to see her. "Sheriff Brady! I'm glad you're here. We have a problem."
The sheriff listened while everyone repeated their explanations. She looked at the warrant and at Jolene's ID. She was comparing the driver's license picture to Cathy when Lara shouted, "Jolene!"
Cathy looked at her and said "Wha..."
The sheriff made up her mind. She said to Bishop, "I believe you. We'll hold Jolene overnight." She told the deputies to remove the cuffs from Bishop and Lara.
"Do you want us to take Jolene to the jail in Bisbee?"
"No, keep her in a holding cell here."
Cathy cried, "Please, Sheriff! You're making a mistake."
Everyone ignored her. While Bishop was filling out some paperwork a deputy took Cathy out of the room, removed the handcuffs and leg irons, and put her in a small cage-like cell. The cell had a narrow metal bench instead of a real bunk, but Cathy was so exhausted she had no trouble sleeping until morning.
Lara and Bishop retrieved Cathy early the next morning and they were in El Paso before noon. When Bishop delivered Cathy to the jail she made one last try to convince someone that she wasn't Jolene. She said to the deputy sheriff who was checking her in, "If Jolene was jailed here you must have her records. Take my fingerprints and compare them to her prints."
Normally her plea would have been ignored, but the deputy had been involved in another mistaken identity case a year earlier and he still smarted from the reprimand. He took Cathy's prints, and he decided to personally compare them to Jolene's prints.
In the meantime Cathy had been processed into the jail. She had been stripped, searched, showered, and issued an orange jumpsuit.
Cathy had been in a cell for several hours before she was released. Now she found herself standing in the same place where she had been checked in that morning. She was wearing her own clothes but she had no money or identification. She said to the deputy who had checked her fingerprints, "Thank you for all you've done. I could have been here for days if it hadn't been for you."
"Glad I could help." He gave her twenty dollars. "Consider this a loan until you get home."
"Thank you. You're really kind."
"Do you know anybody in El Paso?"
"Just one person. She's a lawyer."
* * *
Nine months later...
Cathy was sitting at her kitchen table drinking tea. It was a beautiful summer day in Melbourne, and she was planning to go to the beach later. She looked the same as she did when she lived in Los Angeles, except that her hair was now it's natural brown color.
There was a knock on her front door; she opened it and greeted Lara with a hug. Lara looked a lot different now that contact lenses replaced the dark-rimmed glasses and a mass of curls replaced the pudding bowl haircut. They went into the kitchen and Cathy gave Lara a cup of tea.
Cathy asked, "What's the latest news from home?"
"The voters in Cochise county were so pissed at the size of the settlement you got that they had a recall election and got rid of Sheriff Brady."
Cathy chuckled, "That money was peanuts compared to what Certitude Surety paid out. Of course, Certitude didn't have many options when your deposition backed up every charge I made. Isn't it lucky that they bought Bishop's business? We couldn't have gotten a dime out of him."
"That's true. Oh, Bishop is now back in the bail bond business. There are rumors that mob money is backing him."
"Is Jolene still a fugitive from that embezzlement charge?"
"No, when she got her share of the settlement money she was able to hire a competent lawyer and he worked out a deal. She paid restitution and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Her sentence was 100 hours of community service."
Cathy smiled. "I'm glad. She's a nice person, but she's not very bright."
"Nobody can say that about you. This was a brilliant scheme. I can't believe how much money we made; just my share was over $600,000."
"Not bad pay for two day's work, even if they were uncomfortable days."
Copyright© 2001, 2002 by Zack. All rights reserved. 022111
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