Megan Pace knew only two things for certain. She was riding in a car and she had just been kidnapped. In which direction she was headed was an unknown, since she had a burlap bag tied over her head in addition to having her hands bound. She only knew that her kidnappers were driving at a high rate of speed. She figured they were on an interstate headed somewhere not good, especially for her!

Only twenty minutes ago she had been standing in front of the Rock Island Recordings Studio, waiting to hand over an envelope containing documents her Father had signed which, in turn, would grant all of her Father’s and her late Uncle Charlie’s legal recording rights to some mystery guy, who had kidnapped her cousin, Charlene.

She had been slightly startled, as the black sedan pulled up in front of the studio and three creepy guys got out. She immediately recognized one as the guy who had come into Our Mutual Friend bar to inform her that Charlene had been kidnapped.

“Good evening, Ms. Pace,” Mischa Bakunin had greeted her with the same crooked smile that could have just as easily passed as a snarl, “nice to see you again. You have something for me, yes?!”

Megan nodded and handed over the documents. Bakunin immediately pulled them out of the envelope to check and see if everything was in order. He smiled crookedly, once again, apparently indicating everything was indeed in order, then took a stamp out of his pocket and notarized the document.

“Oh, you a notary public too?!” Megan asked, knowing that the law stated Bakunin would have to have witnessed the signature of her father for that stamp to be legal. However, since all legality was thrown out the door the very second Char was kidnapped, Megan knew it was a moot point.

“Very good,” Bakunin replied, ignoring her question, “lets go on in and see about the other item!”

He took Megan by the arm and led her into the studio, as the other two “creepy” associates tagged along.

Once inside, they came quickly across a hefty guy with long greased back red hair.

“What can I do for you dudes?” he mumbled, non-chalantly.

“We are here to pick up some property you are holding in a safe,” Bakunin replied in a “don’t mess with me, punk” tone.

“Do you have legal access to that property?” Hefty asked.

Bakunin showed Hefty the documents.

Hefty slowly looked the documents over, as if he knew what he was looking for.

“Says here that the rights to the property has been transferred to the Apollo Candy Company,” Hefty hesitantly asked.

“That is correct,” Bakunin had replied, irritatingly, “I am a legal representative of that company and have been authorized to retrieve the property.”

Bakunin pulled another document from his coat pocket and showed Hefty.

“This confirms I have authorization from the CEO of the Apollo Candy Company to access and obtain said properties,” Bakunin explained.

Hefty looked the paper over, shrugged, then handed it back.

“Its all been notarized, so its cool with me!” Hefty replied, as if he was now becoming bored with all this legal mumbo jumbo and just wanted to get this all over with and everyone the hell out of the studio.

“Okay, come on,” he said, as they all followed him into a back room, where a large safe sat off to the side.

Hefty gave the combination lock a few twirls. The sound of a click signified the lock was now open. Hefty quickly stepped aside.

“Go for it, dudes,” he said.

Bakunin immediately opened the steel door, quickly searched inside, then retrieved two small lockboxes. Both boxes were not locked. Bakunin glanced inside the first box, then handed it over to one of the “creepy” guys. He smiled, as he took out from the second box what appeared to Megan to be some type of charm on a chain. The charm appeared to be more like a vial with some type of black liquid inside.

Bakunin placed the charm back inside the box and closed the lid.

“Very good,” he replied, then turned to Hefty.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Jimla Reyes,” Hefty guy nervously replied.

“Well, Mr. Reyes,” Bakunin said, “I want you to remember something very important!”

“W…What’s th..that?” Reyes stuttered.

“If anyone asks,” Bakunin replied, “no one came in here tonight. No one showed you any documents. No one asked you to open up the safe. No one took anything out of that safe. Do you understand?!”

“Dude, I hardly remember who comes in here anyway and what they do!” Reyes replied, “I’m just a Studio manager, man! Its none of my business what you want or what you do with what you take!”

Bakunin immediately took out a handgun and held it to Reyes’s head.

“Who came in here and took what?!” he asked.

Reyes’ eyes grew as large as saucers.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, dude!” he shakily replied, “I ain’t seen no one come in here tonight at all!”

Bakunin put away his gun.

“Precisely,” he smiled, “now you understand!”

Reyes nervously nodded.

“There a side exit somewhere?” Bakunin wondered.

“Fire exit!” Reyes quickly answered, “leads to a side ally. Down the hall!”

Bakunin pulled out a small two way radio.

“Pull the car around the west side, NOW!” he commanded.

“Okay, you’ve got the tapes,” Megan said, “now where’s Char!”

“As a matter of fact,” Bakunin grinned, “she is next on our agenda. We will take you to her right now!”

Before Megan could reply, one of the creepy guys grabbed her arms and slapped a plastic tie down onto her wrists, while the other covered her head with a burlap bag!

“What the hell are you doing?!” Megan cried out.

But no one answered, as she felt herself dragged down the hall, out the exit, and into the waiting car.

“What do you want done with these tapes?” Megan heard one of the creepy guys ask.

“Dump them!” was Bakunin’s reply, “we’ve got what we wanted from the safe!”

Megan was confused. She thought this was all about her Uncle Charlie’s tapes!

‘If it wasn’t the tapes, then what were they after?!’ she wondered, ‘it obviously then had to be the charm! But what was so valuable about a damned charm that would put Char’s and my life in danger?!’

Megan hoped the Tracer Glue that Charlie had put on those documents worked, otherwise this was going to be a long ride to a certain death!

Next: Chap. Thirty “A Short History of a Has Been”

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