Sarah walked out of the nightclub’s entrance, spotted a couple waiting for the valet to bring them their car, and stood behind them, using them as human shields. She knew she would have to time it perfectly or she would have a lot of explaining to do to the police.
She hated explaining things to the police. She had explained, on many occasions, that they were really on the same side. She had explained, many times, that if they would just let her do her thing, it would make both her and their jobs easier.
But the police hated listening to her explanations. Always. So, when the valet was distracted holding the door open for the driver and collecting his tip, she hustled behind him, jogged into the parking lot, and ducked behind the first Sport Utility Vehicle she could find.
Sarah made her way through the three-quarters-full parking lot with no problem. She knew which car was his and was able to find it quickly because she had seen where the valet had parked it when she had followed the assumed thief to the nightclub a couple of hours earlier.
Sarah reached the car and looked around to make sure no one had followed her. She pulled the driver’s door handle. It was unlocked. She opened the door, leaned in, and pushed the button to pop the trunk open. She closed the door, went to the rear of the car, and lifted the trunk door up all the way.
She looked inside. Next to the taillight she saw an emergency handle for opening the trunk up from the inside. Other than that, it was empty.
Except for unexpectedly having to beat up the drunk, everything had gone according to plan. That’s what gave her the confidence to do what she had to do next.
She looked around one last time to make sure no one could see her, took a deep breath, and climbed in the trunk. Once inside, she reached up with one hand, grabbed the trunk door, and yanked down, closing it on top of her.
This was the worst part of her plan. Waiting. Specifically, waiting in the trunk of the car. She had only done it twice before and both times she’d hated it.
Sarah turned her fanny-pack so it was on her hip and unzipped it open. She felt around inside until her fingers found the headband. She pulled it out slowly, careful not to let anything else in the fanny-pack fall out.
She put her head through the headband, felt around for the light, centered it on her forehead, and tightened the headband onto her head. She reached up to the light and gave the centerpiece a turn.
The bright, hands-free LED light lit up the trunk. She turned it back off, not wanting to waste the batteries.
Sarah felt around in the fanny-pack again. This time her fingers found her cell phone. She pushed a button on the side and the time lit up on the screen. Twelve fifty-three.
The nightclub would start kicking people out at two. Worst-case scenario was, she would be stuck in the trunk for about an hour before the car would start moving. She put the phone back in her fanny-pack and zipped it shut.
The drive back to the house would be about a half hour. If the thief took his tipsy dance partner back to her place or to an after-hours club, Sarah would be screwed.
This wasn’t the only way she could’ve done it, of course. For example, she could’ve been the woman dancing with him, laughing at his jokes, and drinking all those expensive alcoholic drinks.
But then, she would’ve had to put up with his company. Maybe even, God forbid, him grinding against her on the dance floor. So, compared to all that, some alone time in the pitch-black trunk didn’t seem like such a bad move.
The more she thought about what she had already done, the more she couldn’t help but feel a small sense of pride about the matter. So far, she had immobilized a drunk, snuck into a suspected criminal’s car unseen, and she had plenty of legroom. What more could a girl ask for on a Friday night?
Sarah had been an insurance investigator for the Red Rock Insurance company for two and a half years. She was a claims adjuster for three years before that. Now, a year past a milestone thirtieth birthday, she was starting to feel comfortable with herself not only as woman but also as a professional.
Essentially, her job was to investigate any claim that looked suspicious. And, if there weren’t any ongoing suspicious claims, she would look in on a routine claim just to make sure it was legit.
In this particular case, an insured, first edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn signed by Sam Clemens with an additional autograph of Mark Twain underneath in parenthesis had been stolen from a museum during a fundraiser.
Sarah had gotten hold of the security footage and noticed a man whose face she recognized. The name she thought was his didn’t appear on the guest list. She physically went door to door, checking every address on the list until she’d found his.
If she had any kind of concrete evidence, she might have been able to go to the police to try to get a search warrant to search his house. But, unfortunately, all she had were vague pieces of information that she had shoehorned into a theory.
Her evidence, if anyone would have even thought so much of it to call it that, might be considered highly circumstantial on a good day, dubious on a normal one. But she was sure she was right. Which was why she’d just locked herself in the trunk of the assumed thief’s car.