The atmosphere inside an after hours bar can become very nauseous, very quickly. The lingering smell of cigarette smoke, stale beer, and spilt whiskey, only adds to the lack of ambience.

Megan Pace, her band mates long gone for the night, waited in a booth at the back of the bar. She spotted Charlie Hume coming in the back way of Our Mutual Friend Bar and Grill. She immediately ran into his arms crying.

“Okay, girl rocker,” Charlie replied, as he soothingly stroked her hair, “lets go back to your booth and you can fill me in on the details, okay?”

Megan nodded, as they slid into the booth.

“Okay, what’s up?” Charlie asked.

Megan wiped the tears from her eyes, “I don’t know where to start!”

“First rule,” Charlie smiled, “start from the beginning.”

“Okay. Char didn’t show up for our gig tonight,” she began.

“Is that unusual?” Charlie wondered.

“Yeah,” Megan replied, “she’s never missed a gig or has ever even been late before. When it come to music stuff, she’s all real serious like!”

Charlie nodded, “Okay, she’s missed a gig. What was she doing earlier tonight, before the gig?”

Megan deeply sighed. Charlie noticed she was visibly upset and really nervous.

“Well,” Megan continued, “she was supposed to meet this guy she liked at the university library earlier this evening. He was teaching her music comp. Then she said they’d come on over to the bar. I tried to get her on her cell and I didn’t have her friend’s number but then some strange guy showed up and said Char had been kidnapped. Had me talk to her over the phone. Char told me to do what this dude said, or she’d be killed!”

“Had the guy, who Char was supposed to meet with earlier, ever show up at the bar looking for her?” Charlie wondered.

“No,” Megan replied, “not that I know of.”

“How did Char sound over the phone?” Charlie asked.

“Sounded scared and like she was drunk or something,” Megan replied.

“Drugged, I’d guess,” Charlie said.

“Anyway,” Megan continued, “the guy gave me that.”

She pointed to an envelope laying between them on the booth’s table.

“He tells me to go see my father and give that envelope to him,” Megan continued to explain, “there’s supposed to be further instructions in it. He said that only dad could open it. If anyone else even tried, Char would be dead! There’s supposed to be a number for my dad to call to “give his answer”!”

“And you don’t know who this guy was?” Charlie inquired, “you’d never seen him before and you don’t have the slightest idea what this could all be about?”

“He said his name was Bakunin,” Megan replied,” said he worked for someone and was just a messenger. I’d never seen him before. Charlie, this jerk threatened to kill me, my dad, and even my band, if I went to the police!”

“Well,” Charlie began, “it always comes down to money.”

“Money?!” Megan replied, incredulously, “what money? Char and I both scrounge for the few bucks these gigs get us! Her and I have to pick up extra cash by working as servers every Monday night here!”

“Maybe they’ve misunderstood your financial situation”, Charlie supposed, “or have mistook you guys for someone else, but either way, it still has to do with money! Your dad has money, right?”

“Well, he HAD money,” Megan replied, “at least back in the days when he and my Uncle Charlie were self-described rock gods. But that was so long ago.”

“Well, maybe they think your dad still has money or at least access to some,” Charlie replied.

“So what do I do, Charlie?!” Megan once again began to tear up, “since I couldn’t call the police, I called you!”

Charlie nodded, “Okay, first thing you do is do what these guys, whoever they are, want. Go ahead and take the envelope to your dad. Have him read it. Maybe he can shed some light as to what’s going on!”

“Will you go with me to see him?” Megan asked. Charlie noticed she was giving him those helpless “puppy dog eyes” she was always good at giving.

“Of course I’ll go with you, babe!” Charlie replied, “call me old fashioned, but I don’t like it when friends of mine get death threats!”

Next: Chap. Six “Unleashing the Sumo”

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