A bootlegger’s books


Corrine tried the key in the lock. It opened just like it was supposed to. She slipped inside and quietly closed the door behind her.

The place was dark; the lights were off. Immediately she clicked on the flashlight in her hand. Then she began making her way through the building.

She passed several large vats and tanks. The smell of liquor was strong. She couldn’t believe the police hadn’t raided the building sooner. But apparently they were after bigger fish.

Corinne carefully flashed the light all around. No one was supposed to be in the building. The morning crew wouldn’t arrive for another three hours.

She knew the direction she needed to go. She’d been in the building several times before. So far she’d kept her connections with the authorities well hidden. But there was always a danger, and she needed to be careful just in case.

Corinne made it to the back room of the brewery. The door to the office lay before her. This one she didn’t have a key for. But she was confident she could get inside.

She pulled out her tool and began working the lock. It was a simple mechanism. No one expected a rival to get this far, much less break into the office. The dangers were much too great. But as a woman she stood a better chance than most.

She spent several minutes working the lock. Then she heard a satisfying click. She carefully turned the knob and then slowly pushed the door open.

She saw the huge desk in the middle of the room. File cabinets sat against one wall. But it was the safe she needed to open. What she wanted lay inside.

Corinne flashed her light until she found it in the corner. She walked up to it and quietly knelt. Then she began working the dial. This was another of her skills she’d learned.

It was believed an attractive female might have a better chance of getting close to these bootleggers. A couple of agents had disappeared recently. There were rumors of them ending up in the river with cement shoes.

Corinne took her time with the dial. She had to start over several times. But she knew she had to be patient. Persistence in these things usually yielded results.

She heard a quiet click of the locking mechanism. Corrine carefully turned the handle. The door of the safe quietly swung open.

The books were there, right where she’d learned they should be. In them were payments to several bootleggers. This was a chance to shut down several operations with one swift stroke.

She pulled out a book and glanced through the pages using her flashlight. The glimpses she got confirmed her suspicions. These were the ones she wanted; they looked genuine enough.

She took the books out of the safe. Then she closed and secured it. She flashed the light around the room one last time before gathering up the books and heading for the door.

She carefully locked it behind her. She didn’t want anyone to know there had been a break-in until it was too late. Missing books might cause certain gentlemen to take a powder, destroying their chances of netting several bootleggers at once.

Corrine headed back through the building toward the front door. This was the part that always made her heart skip a beat. It would not do being discovered this close to success. Besides, there was no telling what might be done to her if she were caught.

The coast looked clear; she was halfway to the door. That’s when her woman’s intuition began to ping like crazy. Something didn’t feel right.

Had it been too easy? She’d had to take her time with the office door as well as the door to the safe. There was a secret meeting with several of the bootleggers, indicating the early morning hour was her best opportunity. Yet her intuition was causing alarm bells to ring in her head.

Instinctively Corinne began rushing toward the door. Now she wanted to get out of there in the worst way. Her heart beat fast; she felt strangely frightened.

A sound in the back of one of the tanks made her pause, anxiously turning her head. Then she started to break into a run. That’s when a light came on, stopping her dead in her tracks.

Two men in spotless suits emerged out of the shadows right in front of her. Corinne recognized one of them as Jack, Harlowe’s right-hand man. The other was Tom, a man she’d slept with a couple of times in order to get pertinent information.

Jack shook his head as he put his hand out. “I’ll take those if you don’t mind.” Corinne desperately tried to play a trump card.

“Al sent me. He wants to see them. He says there’s been something fishy with the books lately.”

For a moment she thought it was going to work. He paused as though uncertain. Then he stuck his hand out again as he told her, “I’ll take them to him myself.”

Corinne thought fast. Then she started to hand them over. “Go right ahead, Jack. Let’s just hope he isn’t pissed you’re handing them over instead of me. He’s liable to ask some very probing questions.”

To her dismay Jack took them from her. Then she heard movement behind her. Two lackeys she didn’t recognize were approaching her with lengths of rope in their hands.

“Jack, what’s this all about?” He just looked at the books in his hands as though they were all there. Then he nodded at his companion who stepped forward.

“You’ll take care of this; won’t you, Tom? This won’t be a problem because you slept with the bitch, will it?”

“No problem at all, Jack.”

“That’s good to hear.” Then Jack took the books back in the direction Corinne had spirited them from.

“Tom, what’s the meaning of this?” Corinne’s heart was beating fast. She didn’t like the way this was going down.

“I’m sorry to have to do this to you, babe. You shouldn’t have gotten involved.”

“I told you Al sent me – hey!”

Her wrists were being tightly secured. Then one of the lackeys started tying her ankles together. The other one was helping her stay upright with rough hands on her arms.

Corinne felt her heart leap into her throat. How was this going to end? Were they going to take her to Al all trussed up like this? She didn’t think so.

“Tom, what’s going on? You KNOW me! I told you I was only doing what I was told!”

He sadly shook his head. “You were a good lay, Corinne. It’s a shame you had to come in here and try to swipe the books for the feds.”

She tried to remain calm. But she couldn’t stop the color draining from her face. How could they know that??

“Tom, what the hell is this all about?” Then he nodded at one of the lackeys. He produced some tape which he used to cover her mouth.

Corinne tried to yell at the top of her lungs. But it was much too late for that. Then Tom motioned behind them at something upward… “Gentlemen, that should be strong enough.”

She turned to look, only to cry out into the tape covering her mouth. One of the lackeys had a rope and was tossing it over a low hanging steel girder. One end of the rope was fashioned into a noose.

Panic filled Corinne’s features. She tried to beg and plead with Tom not to do this terrible thing. He just looked at her with a sense of sadness.

One of the lackeys brought the noose down and looped it around her throat. Corinne promptly wet herself. She violently shook her head as she began to quiver with terror.

Tom looked right at her as he told them, “Take her up into the air and then tie it off. Harlowe wants her dangling in plain view when the Feds raid the place tomorrow.” And with that Corinne was hauled up into the air.

She grunted as her neck felt the strain of the rope around her throat. Her feet began dolphin-kicking for the floor below. But it was a couple of feet beneath her.

Her knees bent as her arms jerked violently behind her back. Her face began to turn red as the noose cut off her breath. She gave Tom an accusatory look. But accusation soon gave way to panic.

Tom and the lackeys watched her as she kicked and struggled. Her arms jerked harder behind her back as her legs kicked together from her secured ankles. She became desperate as she struggled to pull the smallest breath of air through her nose to relieve the agony in her lungs.

Jack came back out minus the books. He coldly looked at the dangling woman. “She’s dead; let’s go, boys.” And with that they turned and headed for the door. That’s when the lights went out, leaving Corinne to kick and struggle in the darkness.

She tried to scream, but her throat was closed off. Her legs kicked around like a fish dangling from a line. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

She didn’t want to die; not like this. She sure as hell didn’t want to be found like this the next morning. Chances are she wasn’t going to look very good when the Feds arrived to raid the place… if that was indeed true.

Breathlessness made her kick harder. Her grunts diminished until she could no longer make a sound. Corinne finally tired herself out.

Her chest kept heaving as she tried to breathe. She could feel her bladder giving way. Surely her bowel wouldn’t be too far behind.

It was going to be humiliating. She didn’t want to be found dangling and soiled in humiliation. But there was nothing she could do about it. Already her vision was dimming around the edges as she felt internal organs shutting down.

She dangled in agony for another minute or two as stray muscles fired. Then her vision failed despite her eyes being open. She was dimly aware of her bladder giving way as consciousness was mercifully strangled right out of her…

2019 (written for Corinne Sep 9 ’19 by riwa)

(Inspired by Corinne’s artwork.)

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