Bradley isn’t rich. But his four friends are. What has happened to them?
Bradley Vincent stares at his hand handcuffed to the table as Detective Karen Payne paces on the other side of Bradley. Suddenly, Karen stops and leans over the table right in front of Bradley. She slams her fists inches from him. “We all know you did it. It’s in your best interest if you tell us why you killed them.”
“We don’t know who killed anyone.” Bradly slowly looks up at Karen. “In fact, we don’t even know if they are dead yet.”
“If they aren’t dead, then where are they?” Karen slides a picture in front of Bradley. He follows it until she stops moving it. “That’s you in that picture, isn’t it?”
Bradley slowly returns his gaze to the picture he’s in. He looks up at Karen. “You know that’s me. And before you ask for the millionth time, those are my four friends in that boat with me.”
Karen sighed. “That’s the problem. When you were caught stealing that boat, you were the only one on it. If you didn’t steal it like you have been saying, then you are the only one who can tell us what happened to your friends.”
Staggering out of a bar, Bradley suddenly stops. His friends Thomas Gray, and James Anderson are a few steps behind him. They bump into Bradley as he looks up and down that street. Bradley starts laughing. Patrice Younger and Monica Owen stop just outside that bar entrance.
Bradley and his friends start to stagger down that street. When they get to the end of it, they stop. There are only three cars in that parking lot. “Where is my car?” James asks.
“We are two hundred miles from home,” says Monica. “Why did we come so far to celebrate our graduation?”
“It’s all Bradley’s fault,” says Thomas. “He said that this was the best bar within five hundred miles.”
Patrice looks at Thomas. “He’s right about that. But how are we going to get home now?”
They start looking around. Monica stops when she sees water between two small buildings. “I know how we can get home. My parents keep a boat at all the ports along this river.”
Thomas gets on the boat first. He helps Patrice and Monica come aboard next. Monica staggers toward the wheel while Bradley and James tumble into it. “Are you sure you can drive this thing? Thomas asks as he joins Monica.
“Of course, I can.” Monica starts her boat and begins to pull away from that dock. “I have been doing it since I was ten.”
Monica steers her family boat for the next half hour. Zigging and zagging most of the time. Some are small zigs and zags. But most of them are big ones. While she is doing that they are sprayed with water as the boat sails briefly above the water only to come down on it hard.
Suddenly, the boat starts making strange sounds and begins slowing down. “What happened?” James asks.
“How should I know?” Monica responds angrily. “I’m not a mechanic.”
Thomas, James, Patrice, and Monica turn to face Bradley. “Don’t look at me. I don’t know anything about how to fix a boat.”
After a few seconds of staring Bradley sighs. “Aim the boat as close as you can at the beach over there. I can’t guarantee I can find out what’s going on. But I’ll look at it.”
“Is this the beach you are talking about?” Karen asks as she points at the picture in front of Bradley.
Bradley slowly looks up at it. “That’s the same one.”
“You obviously did fix the boat after all. How long did it take you to do that?”
“It wasn’t as bad as it looked and sounded. A few wires came loose because of all the bouncing. I didn’t tell them that, though.”
Karen leans forward in a chair she’s now sitting on. “Why did you do that?”
“Because I didn’t think it was safe being out there at night. Especially, the way that Monica was driving. So, I told them it was going to take all night to fix it. We left just after sunrise.”
Karen looks at the picture. Then she puts it back down in front of Bradley. “This picture must have been taken right after you left that beach. Any idea who took it and why they did it.”
“I don’t know who it is. But I might know why it was taken. The other’s parents are very overprotective of them. Especially, Patrice and Monica because of me. One of them probably hired someone to follow them.”
It’s a lot smoother sailing now that Thomas is driving that boat. They are still going very fast. But they are no longer getting sprayed by water. It’s still a little bit choppy, but not as bad as last night. They aren’t zigging and zagging anymore either.
Bradley looks behind him. “It looks like we are being followed.”
James cups his hands beside his eyes. “It appears that Bradley is right. I can’t see if it’s a male or a female. But there is someone behind us.”
Suddenly, a bean bag shoots past Bradley’s head to hit James in the chest. Monica gets one to her left shoulder. Like James, she falls to the deck of that boat. Patrice is hit next with a bean back to the back of her neck. The next one is Bradley who gets it to his back as he turns to see what is going on around him. Thomas is the last one to get hit to the back of his neck too. That causes him to fall on the controls. Now that boat is speeding very fast. And it’s getting faster by the second.
Bradley moans and slowly shakes his head sadly as he wakes up on the boat. He blinks several times until he’s fully awake. As he starts to get up, Bradley glances around an empty boat. “What happened? Where is everyone?”
After Bradley gets up, he bumps a picture laying on the deck next to him as he staggers to the front of the boat. Bradley looks down at the controls. But his vision is still very blurry. He blinks several times to get it back. “We have stopped? Where are we? How did we get here?”
“I can’t remember what happened to us?” Bradley tries to start that boat and it starts right up. “There is nothing wrong with it. So, that’s not the reason why we stopped?”
Bradley slowly starts looking around him. “I don’t recognize where I’m at.”
Suddenly, Bradley stops his looking when his left foot hits something on the deck. Bradley picks up a bean bag. “Now I remember.” He points his finger at the other four bean bags as he counts them.
“We were attacked by someone. Whoever it was, hit us with bean bags to knock us out. I must have been hit in the head by one of them.”
“I don’t understand. Why didn’t they call for help instead of taking that boat?”
Bradley looks up at Karen. “I don’t know why they didn’t do that. When we started looking around, I noticed them talking. They even discussed bringing in a helicopter to get us. But I can’t remember why they didn’t do it.”
Karen gets up from the chair. She starts pacing the length of the table again. Suddenly, she stops. She leans over the table and slams her fists on it. “I don’t believe you can’t remember. You don’t have amnesia. Tell me what you did with them.”
Bradley gets up and leans forward until he’s an inch from Karen’s face. “I didn’t do anything to anyone.”
“I thought you had amnesia. If so, how come you suddenly think you didn’t do something to them”
Karen sits back down smiling. Bradley remains standing. “I never said that I had amnesia. All I have been saying is that I can’t remember what happened to my friends.”
“What do you think happened to them? If they aren’t dead, then where are they?”
Bradley sits back down. “I think that they have been kidnapped.”
“If that’s true, why didn’t that happen to you?” Karen asks.
“For the same reason, I’m here. It’s because I’m not rich like they are.”
Looking at the bean bags again, Bradley notices the picture. He picks it up and looks at it. “I’m being set-up?”
Sirens behind him cause Bradley to look in that direction at the two boats head his way. He can see their red lights flashing. And their sirens getting louder as they get closer to him. “Now I know I am being framed.”
Bradley glances over his shoulder. That boat is still humming with life. He runs up and sits behind the wheel. Bradley slams on the gas pedal and that boat take off. The water around him splashes onto him and the boat as he bumps the water under him.
A large rock suddenly appears in front of Bradley. He swerves around it easily only to have two more rock to get past. Bradley goes between them with an inch to spare on both sides. Then he starts to slow down until he comes to a complete stop. He looks up to see several hundred large rocks jetting just above the surface.
“Whoever has done this to me has done a very good job. It’s not going to be easy getting past all these rocks”
Bradley turns with his hands up in as the two police boats pull up on both sides of him. The sirens are silent. But the red lights are still flashing. A police officer from both boats gets on board and pushes Bradley to the deck hard as other officers get aboard it too.
“You are under arrest for stealing this boat.” The officer sitting on his back slams Bradley’s shoulders to the deck twice before he starts putting the handcuffs on him.
“I didn’t steal anything. One of my friend’s family owns this boat.”
The second first officer onboard helps the other one lift Bradley up to his knees. “That’s not what we were told.”
Another officer notices the picture and picks it up. She looks at it. “He’s right about one thing. There were four others on this boat.”
The first officer looks up at the third one before he takes the picture from her. Anger appears on his face as he looks at it. “I know them. One of them does own this boat with his family.”
“Where are they?” The first officer slams him down to the deck again. “What have you done with them?”
“Why did you try to run if you didn’t have anything to do with what happened to your friends?” Karen asks.
“We both know the answer to that question. I surrendered peacefully. Most of my cuts and bruises didn’t happen after I got here.”
Just then there’s a knock at the door. Another female officer enters and gives a piece of paper to Karen. “There is a new development in this case. We have gotten four ransom demands from those missing.”
“I suppose that I’m going to be blamed for that too. which is a good trick since I have been in here for the last thirty-three hours. It must have been my partner in all of this.”
About an hour later Karen is uncuffing Bradley. “You are free to go for now. But stay in town. We may still have a few questions for you.”
A little bit later Bradley walks into an apartment and hugs a waiting Sarah Graceland. “We did it. True, we are going to have to be careful for the next few days because I am being watched. But soon we are going to be twenty million dollars richer.”
Word Count – 1,973