Stacks looked towards his mothers table. He absently wondered what she and the beautiful Candace were discussing, when he saw the sudden look of intense worry on Gloria’s face. It stirred within him, a mixture of concern and interest in what they were discussing. As he watched he saw Gloria, lean closer to Candace then look his direction. He tilted his head in question, but ever so subtly, Gloria shook her head and returned her gaze to Candace. Watching them out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that Candace looked as if she was about to run out of the room. “Now I know something is wrong,” he murmured under his breath.
When he saw Sheila bringing glasses back to the dishwasher, he stopped her before she hurried past.
“Sheila, something Candace is saying, has Mom worried. Why don’t you take them some more coffee and take a break. I want to know what is going on. I don’t like the way Mom was looking at me, as if she needed me, but then she shook her head as if she did not want me over there. Take a break and see what you can find out, ok?”
“Sure Stacks, my feet are simply killing me and it is so nice of you to worry and give me another coffee break,” Sheila said with a grin on her face.
“Yeah-yeah,” Stacks said laughing, “But do what you can to find out what’s going on. I will have Lisa take over for you.”
“No Candace, I don’t understand anything. I can see that you want to keep others from harm, but it makes no sense to me that you will not allow others to help you.”
“Stacks and his old unit are part of the élite black ops division, of the Navy Seals, a group, of six, that officially does not exist. He only goes out on missions when the President calls and it always deals with immanent attacks against America. When the élite force known as the ‘Blinder Meister’s,’ are called, someone evil dies, they never have the chance to escape, because the team moves in an adroitly, synchronized way, and the bad guys never have the chance to escape, not for long that is, so let him help you,” Gloria whispered to Candace.
Seeing the twinkle in Gloria’s eyes, Candace started smiling. Candace played along with her and said, “And of course he saves damsels in distress, I would imagine.”
“Well there is that too, but in this case, it sounds to me as though you are that Damsel in distress.”
“No Gloria, I really think that Mr. Sanders made a mistake when he said someone messed with my car. I am no one of importance and I have nothing anyone would want. Thank you for the offer, but I will be fine.”
Candace’s off-handed way of dismissing her problem, worried Gloria. She knew that to continue trying to talk Candace into asking her son for help, was useless. From what she knew about Ed Sanders, she knew he was not wrong. She decided that she would call her husband’s old friend Ed, the first thing in the morning, and then make her decision to tell Stacks or not, based on what she learned. First, she was going to speak with Sheila, and she knew the best way to do that.
“I need more coffee, how about you?”
“I probably shouldn’t, but I do love my coffee and this is great coffee. What brand of coffee does Stacks use here?”
Motioning for Sheila to come over, Gloria answered Candace, “Stacks prefers an Italian coffee and his favorite is Milano, from the Coffee Grinder, a small espresso bar in Granbury Texas. In fact, that is what he has used in his home for quite a few years. Heck, he has even got me hooked on it, and now I find that I don’t like any other brand.”
Sheila brought three coffees and sat down at the table.
“That was quick. What were you doing standing with the coffee pot in your hand, when Gloria motioned for you,” Candace asked her.
“Actually I was already pouring the coffee, when she got my attention. It is time for another break, my feet are aching and I need to sit for a while. Now, will one of you give me the five-minute rundown and catch me up on Candace’s week? I only have a ten-minute break, and I need to go outside for a smoke,” Sheila laughingly told them.
“Sure, I can do that,” Gloria told her.
Candace excused herself from the table saying she needed to make another trip to the restroom. Gloria waited until she was out of hearing distance and then she started explaining why she had given them their covert signal of possible trouble.
“It seems that when Ed Sanders went to repair Candace’s car, he found that someone has intentionally messed with it. When Ed ” removed the oil pan, he found that someone had deliberately punctured a hole in it, with what he thought had to have been a knife, and had cut almost all the way through the brake lines and damaged quite a few other things as well.”
“Does Candace have any idea who would want to harm her?”
“No Sheila, from what she says there is no one or reason, as far as she knows, who would have any reason to do so. She also asked me to say nothing of this to Stacks. However, I am worried about her and I think she may be in danger here. She may know something that she is unaware of or that seems unimportant. However, there must be something someone is willing to kill her for, and it is important. I want you to talk with Stacks about this. Make sure Candace does not suspect either of you knows anything about it, at least not for now.”
Looking towards the bathroom, Sheila laughed, as if Gloria had said something funny and said, “Here she comes, tell me something that she told you.”
Gloria went into her rendition of the restaurant scene, with Candace’s ex-boyfriend and his new wife. By the time Candace sat back down to the table, Sheila knew enough about it to discuss this with her.
“Wow Candace, I wish I could have seen your ex-boyfriends face when you plastered him with all that Italian food. What a creep, he deserved that and more,” Sheila told her.
Candace was glad she had hurried back before Gloria had time to mention anything about her car. She was upset that she had told Gloria and she did not want to get her new friends involved.
“That is so true, but I felt sorry for Jillian, she has no idea what she has gotten into marrying David.”
“Don’t feel too bad about that Candace. Jillian should not have jumped into a marriage so quickly with a man she did not take the time to get to know. I would imagine his high paying job had something to do with her marrying him so quick. Money will do that to greedy people. Also, David does not know any more about Jillian than she knows about him,” Sheila told her.
“Ok ladies, I need to step out back and have a cigarette, would you two like to go outside with me for a few minutes?”
Gloria looked at Candace, who stretched and said that she would not mind standing for a while. Gloria agreed and all three women headed for the back door. They had to go through the storeroom so they passed Stacks on their way out.
“Please tell me you ladies are not deserting me now, so close to closing time?” Stacks directed the question towards Candace.
Smiling at Stacks, Candace said, “We are just going outside with Sheila for a moment. After all, I did promise you I would stay and visit with you after ‘The Bar ‘ closed tonight.” Then they went into the back room of the bar.
Stacks smiled at Candace and dipped his head in answer to her statement. Turning back to tend to his customers, Stacks was thinking of how strange it was that he felt so attracted to Candace even though he had only met her tonight.
“Well now my boy, I may be an old man, but I still remember what I felt like when I met my Irene, God rest her soul. And I would have to say that I believe you have been bitten, and bitten bad by that old love bug tonight,” Larry Austin said, as he laughed at the incredulous look Stacks gave him.
“Shaking his head in wonder, Stacks said, “I am afraid you just may be right Larry, but I will be damned if I know how it happened.”
Stacks was busy for around half an hour, before he finally had time to think about his mother, Candace and Sheila. Sheila should have come back to work by now, he thought. Realizing that he had not seen any of them for quite some time, he asked one of the other bar tenders to take over, and went to search for them.
He had one of the other waitresses look in the restroom, just in case they had come back in without him noticing. She returned saying that they were not there. As he started walking back to the bar, he heard Larry yell and saw him run towards the back room. Soon the place was in chaos. Everyone was either on their feet trying to see, or yelling for someone to call an ambulance. Stacks took off in a run. His heart had sped up and terror overwhelmed him when he saw his mother, the right half her head and face smeared with blood, standing, leaning against the door jamb, holding her head with her hand.
Tenderly picking her up, he took her to a table and set her in a chair. Stacks yelled orders as fast as any drill sergeant could hope to ever issue orders. Soon Gloria had a towel filled with ice and the ambulance was on its way.
“Mom, where is Candace and Sheila?”
“Hurry Stacks, get Sheila, she is out back. Someone jumped us and Sheila tried to fight them off. Now go,” Gloria said as she pointed her finger towards the back room.
Stacks took off running to the back exit. As he passed the bar, he yelled for Justin to follow him. Shoving open the back door, he saw Sheila on the ground looking as if she was just waking up. Helping her to sit up, Stacks said, “Are you alright. How bad are you hurt?”
“I guess I am ok, but they took Candace. The largest man attacked me and someone hit Gloria over the head. Candace jumped on the person who hit your mom and was pulling his hair and tearing at his face with her fingernails. The next thing I remember is when I started coming too, then you and Justin showed up. I am so sorry Stacks, but they took Candace, I could not stop them. Is your mom alright?”
“She will be fine. She may have to have a few stitches, but other than that, she is all right. If you can get up, Justin and I will get you inside. We need to get the bar closed down as soon as possible, and we need to talk. I want to know what was going on earlier, and we have to find Candace.”
The police were there within five minutes and within another two minutes, the ambulance arrived. After checking the cut on her head, they said Gloria would not need stitches. They told Gloria and Sheila that they should go to the hospital and have a doctor check, just to make sure they did not have concussions or broken bones. Both women said that they would go see a doctor, but later and they refused to go in the ambulance.
The police took down both womens statements and said they would look into it. After talking to everyone, they soon decided that no one there had been outside when the attack occurred and therefore knew nothing.
As the officers started back to their car, Stacks ran to catch up with them.
“Ed, I know you and Sherri have a lot to do, but I wanted to ask if you found anything in the alley that would help find Candace.”
“You know we are not supposed to discuss our findings with civilians Stacks, but I will tell you that there was nothing other than some blood, which we took samples of, and signs of a struggle. At this point, we know nothing more than you do. We will do everything we can to find Candace, but with the information we have, it will be like looking for one special grain of rice in a rice granary. I’m sorry Stacks, but you know the odds,” Ed said as he and Sherri got into the squad car.
Everyone left and the bar closed for the night. Everyone except for Stacks, Gloria, Sheila, Justin Mead, Tommy Collins and Danny Jamerson, nicknamed Blaster by his friends and Edward Rothman. Other than Gloria, everyone worked at The Bar, and had once been in the military, together.
“Now Mom, I need you to tell us everything Candace told you tonight. Try to remember even the smallest details. If we are to find her, it may be that she told you something, she did not even realize, that will help us.”
“I will do my best to remember Stacks. We have to find her and as soon as possible. I am scared, that these men will kill her as soon as they get what they want,” Gloria said as tears trailed down her cheeks.
To be continued…