Courtney had given up on trying to keep track of where Duncan was carrying her. After heading through a series of alleys and open areas behind tenement buildings full of trash and rats, they were in some neighborhood of downtown Chicago that was even more poor than the one that Frank lived in. Besides that, Courtney was completely lost. She couldn’t run away now, at all. If she tried, she’d get lost and maybe end up getting raped by some dirt-poor man who was divorced. Courtney silenced a gasp with her palm. Was Duncan going to rape her?
Well he is really hot…
Courtney slapped herself to be sure she wasn’t going crazy. Her? Liking Duncan? As if. She must be showing some early signs of Stockholm syndrome, where kidnap victims starts to sympathize with their captors.
Duncan stops halfway through the dark alley. There was a rusty-orange fire escape above Courtney’s head. As in, way above her head. As in, she couldn’t reach it. “Climb,” Duncan orders.
“How?” Courtney asks.
“Stand on my shoulders and climb up,” he commands her. Courtney turns her head to give him a look saying that he was crazy, but of course all she saw was the back of his head.
“Are you serious?” Courtney asks him.
“Need I show you how serious?” Duncan replies threateningly, his hand reaching for his gun. Courtney lets out a soft whimper and grabs hold of the cold brick wall. Duncan holds her feet to his shoulders as she slowly moves from a crouch to a kneel to a full stance. Courtney grabs the bottom rung of the ladder and dangles there. “Are you going to get climbing, or are you just going to hang there?” Duncan demands.
“I have absolutely no upper-body strength, if you must know,” she informs him. Duncan sighs impatiently and rolls his eyes.
“Just pull yourself up. It’s not that hard,” he tells her. After two or three minutes of grunting, kicking, and straining, Courtney managed to make it to the second rung. From there, she climbed up just like a normal ladder. She stands on the landing of the fire escape and tried to pick the chips of rust off her stinging hands.
Duncan, meanwhile, climbs onto the lid of a dumpster. He leaps and grabs hold of the bottom rung of the fire escape and swings back and forth. Once the swinging is under control, he swiftly climbs up the ladder. He meets Courtney on the landing of the fire escape and winks at her.
“Told’ja I’d get a chance to look up your dress,” Duncan teases her, a smirk dancing across his lips. Courtney’s jaw drops open, and a pink blush lights up on her cheeks. She immediately slaps Duncan across the face, and his head snaps sideways.
Duncan slowly rubs his jaw with one hand, yet the bleach-white smirk was still plastered on his tan face. “I guess I kinda deserved that,” he says with a low chuckle. “But dang, girl, you have a really nice ass.”
Courtney lifted a hand to slap him again, but Duncan had sprinted up one flight of stairs already. Pink-faced and embarrassed beyond belief, Courtney grabbed handfuls of sky-blue fabric and slightly lifted her dress so she could climb up the stairs without tripping over it. They climb up ten flights of stairs. By the time they were at the ninth floor, the old fire escape was beginning to creak and groan with every step.
Duncan hopped onto the concrete roof and held a hand out to Courtney. Indignantly, she ignored his offer of help, and she click-clacked across the concrete roof of the apartment building. “Ooh, the silent treatment, Princess?” Duncan asks. She pointedly crosses her arms and refuses to make eye contact with him. “Fine. If that’s how it’ll be.”
Duncan raps several knocks on the solid oak door in the center of the roof, like a secret knock. The door swings open, revealing a dim staircase and another teenage guy wearing the same dress pants as Duncan, but he was wearing a tight white T-shirt and no tie. “What’s up, Damien?” Duncan greets the green-eyed, blonde boy and bumping fists.
“Nuthin’ much, boss,” Damien replies, grinning a pure white smile. “But who’s she?”
Courtney glares at Damien for no apparent reason. “This is our temporary captive. She saw who was in the car,” Duncan answers. Courtney furrows her eyebrows.
“The car that almost ran me over?”
“Exactly.” Duncan leads Courtney down the staircase, which was lit by just one bare lightbulb. Dust was floating around in the air, visible by the beams of light shining down. Duncan walked through the wooden door at the end of the staircase. He shut the door after Courtney.
They were in a huge room, with crates marked “Log Cabin”. Courtney knew about Log Cabin. It was what rumrunners and bootleggers were labeling illegal cases of whiskey, scotch, and other liquors before selling them to speakeasies. Around five other teenagers were gradually waltzing around the room, marking the inventory on clipboards. It seemed like more and more crates were being carried into the room, through another door. Lightbulbs hung, bare, from the rafters littered with cobwebs. The windows were either boarded up with wood or had thick quilts nailed to them so the police couldn’t see in. Duncan led Courtney through the door where more inventory was being brought in, down another flight of stairs, and into another room.
This room was full of empty glass bottles, corks, empty crates, barrels of whiskey, and stickers. Courtney observed one of the Log Cabin bottles being made. A sticker that said “Log Cabin” was places onto the bottle. Then, whiskey was poured from the barrels into the bottles. A cork was screwed onto the bottle, and then the bottles were packed into empty crates. The windows in this room were blocked off, too.
The next floor was just a long hallway. On either side of the hallways were doors with labels on them. Most of the labels said “Bunks of ____, ____, ____, and ____” and a couple labels said “Bathroom”.
The next floor down was a huge living room and kitchen area. The living room had a huge radio, multiple couches, a phonograph player, and bookshelves of records. There was no carpet, but there were many ratty rugs lined up together to try to cover the hardwood floor. Coffee tables at the center of the circle of couches were littered with overflowing ashtrays and picked-over newspapers. The kitchen was stocked. The cabinets were almost as full as Courtney’s pantry back home, but that wasn’t much considering how many accomplices Duncan had to feed compared to Courtney’s house, of which only her mom, dad, and herself lived there. The refrigerator was full of every kind of alcohol imaginable, and then some.
The next four floors down were exactly the same as the tenth floor on the top. Crates were stacked everywhere, and delivery charts were tacked to the walls. The bottom two floors were offices, filled with cubicles. Each cubicle had a radio playing softly, a telephone ringing off the hook, charts and graphs tacked to the walls, manila folders crammed with papers were laying on the desk, and a huge map took up an entire wall. It was a map of the United States, with little bulbs representing major cities such as Los Angeles, St. Louis, NYC, Philadelphia, Houston, etc. Suddenly, the small bulb over Miami begins flashing red.
“Why is it flashing?” Courtney asks Duncan.
“That means a speakeasy in Miami just put in another order for more liquor,” he answers her.
Suddenly, police sirens are heard from outside. “Shit,” Duncan hisses. He grabs Courtney’s hand and starts pulling her towards the stairs, taking two steps at a time.
“Mister Malone, I cannot climb that fast! You will have to slow down, please. I am in high heels, after all,” Courtney requests, fumbling with her dress and trying to climb as fast as she can. Duncan spins around, picks her up, places her on his shoulder again, and resumes running up the stairs.
“Well! I sure hope this won’t become a regular occurrence,” she comments. Multiple other gangsters began filing out of doors and into the stairway, running this way and that. While they run down the stairs and Duncan is running up, the gang members whistle as they see up Courtney’s dress. Courtney flips them off with a perfect French tip glistening in the air. They were now on the eighth floor, the one with all the bunk rooms. Duncan opens the door marked "Duncan's Bunk" and dumps Courtney on the bed.
She smoothes her dress, trying to cover up her pink silk underwear. Courtney sits there while Duncan runs to and fro. He’s locking the door, covering the window, hiding half-full bottles of whiskey under the bed, and opening a trap door in the floor. He stands on the first step on the staircase leading down into the darkness, and he holds a hand out to Courtney. “Ya coming, Princess?” he asks her.
Courtney climbs off the bed and takes his hand. Really, what were her other options? Duncan carefully leads her down the dim steps, her hand still in his. Courtney could barely see the steps because of the little light, but when Duncan closes the trap door, the light goes from little to none. Then Duncan flips a lightswitch, and a cracked lightbulb flickers on.
“Why do you have to hide like this?” Courtney asks as they walk down the remainder of the stairs. They were in a small crawl-space type area. The walls were big stones cemented together, and the floor was just packed dirt.
“I hafta hide whenever I hear the police. My accomplices don’t care, since the maximum amount of time they’d get in jail would be just a year or two. But me? I’d get at least ten years,” Duncan explains, “And once I’m gone, the whole system will crash… probably.”
Suddenly, Courtney screams. She spazzes out, slapping at the waist of her dress. Courtney hops around until she finally runs into Duncan’s chest, where she stands there, whimpering. Not knowing what just happened or how to respond, Duncan just places a hand on her back. “Uh… what was that?” he asks, nervous of the answer.
“Spuh... Spider,” Courtney stutters. She was still shaking a little, and Duncan could feel her heartbeat pounding.
“Well, you probably killed it with all your dancing around,” Duncan tells her. She glares at him, but doesn’t move from his side. Duncan chuckles and sits down. “You should probably sit, too, if you want to get any sleep. We’ll probably be here a while,” he says when he sees her still standing.
Courtney huffs and crosses her arms. “I can not sit on a dirt floor! It’ll get my dress dirty,” she responds. Duncan pats his lap, and Courtney’s eyes widen. “I can’t go to sleep laying on you! Who knows what you’ll do to me? After all, you’re a criminal.”
“Fine, then, Princess. Have fun standing there all night.”
For the next ten minutes, Courtney stood there. She was fighting yawns, and her eyes were getting rather droopy. Not to mention that her high heels were killing her. She bent down, took off her high heels, and gently placed them against the wall. Courtney took a deep breath, and looked at Duncan.
He was slouched against the wall, arms at his sides. His head was lolled, and his gorgeous eyes were closed. Wait… gorgeous?? Nevermind that, Courtney, just sit in his lap. Just…sit. It’s nothing, really. It doesn’t mean anything at all. Besides, you have to sleep sometime! Courtney gently lowers herself into Duncan’s lap, and she leans against his firm chest. A minute later, her eyes couldn’t stay open any longer, and her breathing became even.
Duncan smirks in his sleep.