Last time, Della sneaked into the back of Mr. Jorgenson's car -- again -- and wound up a LONG way from home.
You should all know that this is probably my favorite chapter of the whole story.
She sat there in the backseat, waiting patiently as he drove miles and miles
That's pretty stinking patient.
until he finally reached an abandoned warehouse. He parked in the parking lot outside
And what a good place that is to park.
and then got out of the car and walked into the house. Della wanted to know what was going on, so she wandered on inside.
It was dark in there, and she reached out to turn on a light switch
Hold that thought there, Della. You're not wearing your inconspicuous long evening gown and mask, so Mr. Jorgenson MIGHT see you.
but then realized probably Mr. Jorgenson would be in there,
Since he went in there and all.
and she didn't want to alert him, definitely not.
Definitely, definitely not. Definitely in a box with no TV.
She crouched down behind a barrel and watched him walk toward a ring of light in the center. Suddenly a different man materialized in front of him and said, "You have the money?"
Yup, there's something shady happening here. And it involves people who are maybe able to materialize...
Mr. Jorgenson nodded, looked around him, then reached in his pocket and handed over a wad of bills.
The man thumbed through them, then nodded in satisfaction. "All your stuff is in the back," he said, nodding his head toward a room that Della hadn't noticed before now. Boxes were stacked in it. She wondered what was in the boxes. Obviously something Mr. Jorgenson was buying.
This is a fairly logical train of thought, actually. Simplistic logic, but hey, it's more than Della's mastered up until now. I'm impressed.
"Now remember, don't tell anyone about this," the man said, putting a finger to his lips.
"I'm not stupid!" Mr. Jorgenson said, offended.
I beg to differ. He didn't notice when Della made a FLYING LEAP into the BACK SEAT of his car.
"I know better than to run squealing to the cops about this."
"Just checking," said the man. "Some people haven't been as careful, and then CLICK!" He mimed shooting a gun into someone's head. Mr. Jorgenson winced.
Yeah, I feel threatened. How about you?
"Yeah, ok, I know, I know, just take me to the gold," he said.
The man led him into the back room, where the two men shut the door. Della couldn't see through the door
She is spoiled by her hole-filled door at home.
into what they were doing. She sat pondering behind the barrel.
Best place to ponder!
Obviously Mr. Jorgenson was involved in something illegal.
What was in those barrels?
Barrels? Besides the one she's sitting behind? I think she means boxes.
She had to find out. Drugs? Evil papers?
Watch out for those evil papers. They attack and papercut you to death.
Children being sold into slavery?
...That they stack in boxes in warehouses? That can't be the most efficient way to store human beings.
Mr. Jorgenson came out a moment later, his hands full of boxes.
And that crosses off the possibility of them being full of children.
The man helped Mr. Jorgenson loaded them into his car, and then Mr. Jorgenson drove off into the sunlight.
Oh, my. A lot of time has passed since Della jumped into his car.
Della wasn't with him, she had decided to stay behind so she could get a look at the boxes. She could always call someone to come pick her up.
Er... Della has lost all indication that she EVER thought sensibly. Which, I mean, she didn't to begin with, but...
As soon as the mysterious man vanished into wherever he came from, Della crept over to the door and pushed it open. It squeaked open and lay rusting on his hinges as she tiptoed in and looked in awe at the millions of boxes
That is a LOT of boxes.
scattered across the floor. Which to open first? They most likely all contained the same thing,
See, if they're the same on the outside, they're always the same on the inside too.
so whichever one she opened would contain what the rest of them did.
She took a deep breath, chose one and random, and opened it.
Inside lay a nest of papers.
A bird sat on top of the nest.
She pulled them out and began looking over them. Oh goodness! They were test scores! Mr. Jorgenson was slipping test scores to people!
Now hold on just one second. Mr. Jorgenson's illegal purchase is TEST SCORES? Not even test answer sheets. SCORES. As in "Billy got an 89, Susie got a 96." The only law that can possibly breach is some sort of student-teacher confidentiality thing. This is nonsense.
She couldn't believe his audacity,
I can't believe his moronity.
and was about to turn around and report it to the police,
Who were coincidentally standing right behind her...?
when she felt a cold hand on her shoulder. She whipped around and saw the mysterious man holding her shoulder,
It appears he ripped her shoulder off.
a grim smile on his face that didn't look at all pleasant.
"I see you've discovered our treasure trove,"
And quite a trove it was, I must say.
he said, without humor in his voice. "Now it's time to pay you."
Uh... Yeah, I messed that one up. It SHOULD have been "Now it's time for you to pay." But perhaps they're going to bribe her?
He cuffed her on the shoulder and all went black.
Oh, my. That's a powerful hit.
When she woke up, she was tied to a chair in the same back room, a gag in her mouth and her chair leaned up against a wall. No one was in the room but she supposed someone was.
She tried making a noise, maybe if they came she could explain to them that she was just on her way, just leaving,
but nobody came when she called.
She suddenly noticed a stirring in the corner of the room. It was a very large feline creature
So... a cat.
which lay napping lazily in the corner, its tongue flicking in and out when it yawned.
It is SO tired, it yawns AS it naps.
It opened one eye, glanced around, and then glocsed it again. Della realized in an instant what it is. It was a panther jaguar.
This panther jaguar is an amazing creature, let me tell you.
She had read about them in school, they were the deadliest of cats and could tear a human being to shreds in an instant.
But of course this is all pretty common knowledge. I'm sure you all knew that
Not only would she have to be careful, they had probably left it there as a trap in case she tried to escape.
Er... yes. Guard those test scores, Mr. Panther Jaguar!
She realized joyously that she still had her cell phone in her pocket.
I don't know how else she thought she was going to call someone to "come pick her up."
Maybe she could escape if she could call somebody.
Well, yes, maybe.
She wouldn't get attacked by the cat unless she moved out of the room, presumably,
She's making a lot of dangerous assumptions about how this panther jaguar operates.
so if she could just get a hold of it--
She moved and the cat opened its eyes and let out a warning snarl. She let her hands stay in the position they had been. Obviously she had been wrong. The cat would attack if she tried to move or untie herself. The captives have been far too clever.
Well, aside from the incorrect use of the word "captives," it's nice to point out that they'd been so clever that they didn't practically open the door and let her waltz out.
She racked her brain trying to think of what other clever things she could do. Nothing was coming to mind.
I hate it when I'm trying to think of clever things and nothing comes to mind.
She began to think that she would never get out of here, when she heard a familiar noise outside. It was a car. Dax's car.
I am unbelievably impressed that she can recognize Dax's car by its sound. Almost as impressed as I am that Dax is somehow here. Miles and miles away.
"I'M IN HERE!" she screamed at the top of her lungs.
Note how I completely forgot about the gag.
The cat jumped to its feet, snarling and snapping. Della paid it no attention but kept yelling, "DAX, DAX, COME HELP ME, I'M IN HERE!" The cat began to walk toward her, its leathery paws tapping the floor in rhythms.
This... has to be one of the most amazing mental images ever. Why, the panther jaguar ALWAYS rhythmically tapdances over to its prey.
Della squirmed and squealed in her chair, hoping to escape herself
THAT wasn't translated from Spanish to English using Google Translate.
so she could run from the monster. "THERE'S A CAT MONSTER IN HERE!" she screamed next.
Hey, it's not a MONSTER. It's just a panther jaguar.
She wouldn't want Dax to come in unprepared. That would be the most horrible thought. He would mauled in an instant by this lovely creature.
Yes, this lovely... monster... Della has no idea what she thinks of the p.j.
She squirmed some more, as the cat put one paw up on her knee.
"Now, now, Della," the p.j. said calmly, "we must stop screaming, mustn't we?"
If she moved any further the cat should push down and push her knee off.
That is NOT a pleasant image. But an interesting one.
She had to stay completely still now. The cat gazed into her eyes as if saying "Don't you try THAT stunt again," and then dropped down onto the floor, padded back to the corner, and curled up and lay down.
Apparently the cat didn't hear the sound of Dax's car...
She wasn't fooled though, it wasn't sleeping, not by a long shot.
Yeah, you've gotta get up pretty early in the morning to fool Della. Or at least the morning after you've fooled her, so you can dispose of the body.
She could be cleverer!!
Glad to hear it. I've been waiting for that.
She began to sneeze violently. The cat opened its eyes, unsure whether to count this as a thing or not.
"A thing"? I think I just ran out of words here.
Then it finally closed its eyes again, assuming it was just a normal sneeze. Della kept sneezing, though,
I really want to know how one sneezes, gagged. But I guess she's been managing to talk, so...
hoping Dax would recognize her sneeze for what it was and follow her sneeze trail to where she was kept.
If he's taken Sneeze Trail Following 101, he just might figure it out.
A moment later, the doors were thrown open and Dax burst in, holding a pitchfork in his arms. "Come away, cat!"
The attack of the horrible dialogue!
he yelled at the feline, who had lazily opened one eye and then jumped to its feet at the sight of an intruder in its territory. It snarled as it moved forward slowly as Dax backed up, shoving the pitchfork at it and jabbing it.
Is it tapping its feet on the floor in rhythms? That's when you should get nervous.
Finally when they were so far out of the room that Della couldn't see them anymore, she heard a wild scream and began to panic. Had Dax been mauled?? What would she do? She might get mauled too...
But note how she isn't really worried about Dax...
But a moment later, Dax came into the room, his pitchfork gone now, and wiping his hands on his pants.
Sounds like quite an adventurous triumph...
"All's well," he said. "Let's get you untied."
She didn't ask what had happened to the cat until he got the gag off.
Why not? Obviously Della can still speak with it in. And sneeze too!
Then she said, "What did you do to it?"
"Oh, that thing," Dax said, dismissively waving his hand.
"That old thing? I've had one in my home for years. They're quite easy to deal with. A bit of a nuisance, but that's all."
"I lured it into a pile of gasoline rags and then set it on fire. Let's go."
Oh........my. I think this speaks for itself.
Her ropes were on the floo besider her, and she was able to get up and move around now. It felt good. Her arms and legs were sore from being in one position for so long. She hadn't moved in hours. Finally she and Dax could walk out.
Now that she's noted how good it feels to move.
She avoided looking at the disgusting pile of whatever it was on the floor on the right. She assumed it was the cat but she wasn't about to look and find out.
Is it near a pile of gasoline rags? Actually, if it is the cat, it's probably still on fire.
As they got into Dax's red sports car,
As all archaeologists drive.
Della asked curiously, "How DID you know that I was here?"
Just what I was wondering.
Dax nodded. "Easy. You left your cell phone on and I traced your last call.
...What? And Dax says he can't find her parents' murderers... *shakes head*
I needed to talk to you. I think I've found out who killed your parents."
I knew it!
Della jumped up and down in her seat. "You don't say! Well, don't be quiet about it, spill spill!"
Dax put on his blinker and headed onto a dirt road, where they proceeded to bounce up and down as they traveled the path.
That fact is so important. It's pretty much the key to the ENTIRE STORY.
"I don't have absolute proof," he said, "but I have some evidence to support the fact that it was a man who your father had some information on. He threatened to go to the police about it. This man panicked and killed him and your mother."
Della was astonished. "How on earth did you find all this out?"
Dax waved his hand. "Never mind all that.
Ha! This way I don't have to explain it either!
The point is, how are we going to prove it?"
This would actually be easier to know if we knew how he found it out in the first place.
Della leaned back in her seat and put her feet up on the dashboard, wondering this very same question. "Well, the first thing I need to know," she said, "is what's his name?"
"Can't possibly prove it without his name."
Dax turned toward her and gave her a steady gaze. "His name," he said, "is Robert Plaintive."
Della shook her head. If she was supposed to recognize the name, she didn't.
"He's your police man friend," Dax said.