Going Underground

Saturday, September 13, 1997

I was standing outside a coffee shop, throwing a quarter into a payphone. Under Grounds was the coffee place for the artsy folk. When I’d first started writing, I’d tried coming here. I’d sip on my cappuccino while resting on a plush red couch. This is how real writers did it, I’d told myself. But I quickly found myself stuck in the crease of the cushion, not being able to adjust my position without spilling my coffee. Between the constant battle with comfort and my attention redirecting to the budding lyricists in the corner of the room, I didn’t get much writing done. Instead, I dabbled a bit in the library, even created my own home office, but mainly surrendered to the wonder of procrastination.

The Under Grounds nightlife definitely wasn’t my scene. College intellectuals dressed in all black sat in each others’ laps and recited poetry. I was never that artsy. Neither was anyone I knew. Dani made me attend once, so that she could read a fake poem that she’d written about her tater tots. The fact that the artists were extremely moved by her words just made us laugh even harder on the way home.
I wished Dani were there with me instead of tied up somewhere bleeding out. She’d have been ecstatic about an incognito investigation adventure. She probably would have insisted that we wear sunglasses, so as not to be noticed. She wouldn’t have let me barge out of the police station alone, she would have thrown down her pizza and chased after me. Unfortunately, though, it was only me and I realized that I’d just deposited my only quarter. I’d have to be real convincing when I got Brant on the line.
As the phone rang, I glared at the two men sipping coffee and chit-chatting as if they were old friends. He looked like something straight out of a Vanilla Ice video – oversized T-shirt, baggies pants, a ridiculously large necklace, tufts of unkempt hair curling out from under his backwards cap. I would later learn that his name was Kevin Jones – a resident of Coral Key Place. But right then and there all I knew, and believe me I knew it, was that he was the man Sean Messina had hired to kidnap Dani.

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