I spent twelve hours in the local hospital’s emergency room. In addition to a torso that was rapidly becoming a abstract work of art, the bastard who punched me in the face cracked my nose, leaving me with two black eyes. The bill wasn't cheap either — five thousand dollars that I didn't have.
The detective who interviewed me, a shallow-faced man with a bushy mustache who introduced himself as Sergent Haylock, didn't give me any hope my attackers were going to be caught anytime soon. He asked his questions with a droning tone, took down my answers in his little notebook, and asked questions about my uncles and any letters their lawyers might send me. He then wandered into the idiotic portion of the interview. “Do you owe anyone money?”
“No one that would send masked thugs after me,” I replied. “Besides, I’m not far enough behind on any of my bills to provoke anything more then a request for payment.”
“Are you involved in any illegal activities?”
“No. I don’t have time. I’m working three jobs as it is.” He asked me where I worked and I told him.
He seemed surprised that one of my jobs was teaching martial arts at one of the local schools. “I thought you’d would have done a better job of defending yourself.”
I had to fight to keep my temper under control. “I was tired. I worked all three jobs today, and I’d been up since five am. The last place I expected to be attacked was in my own apartment.”
“Yes, your apartment,” Haylock said, scribbling something into his notebook. “Who has a key to it?”
“Besides myself and the corporation that owns the apartment? No one. I never gave out any duplicate keys.”
“Haven’t had a girlfriend in six months, and she never had a key to my apartment. Our relationship never got to that point.”
“There’s no signs of forced entry.”
“Maybe they picked the lock,” I said.
“If they did, they were very good at it. Did you keep anything valuable in the apartment?”
I shook my head and winced at the pain. "Nothing that was worth breaking in and beating me to a pulp.”
After half an hour of questioning, Haylock declared that he was finished and left. I dozed a little until my younger brother showed up to take me home.
Most people don’t believe we’re brothers. I’m short and thick with dark eyes and hair, while AJ (Only our mom calls him Andrew, and only when she’s mad,) was tall, lean, with blond hair and a winning smile. I’m not the most friendly of people, while AJ has an easy charm about him that made him attractive to women and welcomed by men. To AJ, all sports came easy; to me, I had to work hard to get my black belt and even harder to be worthy of it. Still he was my brother, and we got along.
AJ walked in, took one look at me and said, “Man, you look like some ran you over!”
“Seriously, you okay?”
“Nothing broken but my pride. The doctor said I need to rest for a couple of days.”
It took another hour and a half to get the discharge papers, then AJ drove me home. On the way, I told him what happened. “Sounds like you pissed off someone,” he said when I was done.
“I don’t have the time,” I replied. “They wanted some stupid letter one of our uncles’ lawyers supposedly sent me. “
”But you don’t know which one?”
“Nope. They were too busy demanding the letter and stomping me to tell me which one.”
“I’ll call mom. Maybe she knows.”
I groaned. “You want to worry her?”
“Too late, Bro. Miranda told her.”
I groaned. Miranda’s my sister, two years older than me physically, but twenty years older mentally. She was more mother than sister, and she never let me get away with anything.
“Great,” I said. “I should give mom a call and let her know I’m not dead.”
“Good idea,” AJ replied.
The apartment looked like a hurricane had hit it. In the excitement, I’d missed the ransacking. Books and papers were everywhere and a few prized knick-knacks had been tossed around for no reason I saw.
AJ guided me to the couch and checked the bedroom. “They tossed it too,” he said. “Who are these idiots?”
“No clue,” I replied. “But I’m hungry, tired and pissed.”
“I’ll call for a pizza,” AJ said. “And help you clean up a bit.”
By the time he left, it was early evening, we’d eaten enough pizza to keep us full for a while, and cleaned up the place enough so I could finish the rest of it later. I called Mom, assured her I wasn't on my deathbed, talked to dad and asked about my uncles. Dad has two brothers, while Mom has two brothers and two sisters. He didn't know why any of them would send me anything. I thanked him, assured Mom again I was all right and ended the conversation. I then called work, told them what happened and told them I was taking a couple of days off. They weren't happy, so I told them I’d be by the next day to show them.
I was about to head for bed when I realized I hadn't collected my mail. Muttering some curses under my breath, I went down to the mailboxes in the lobby and retrieved a large bundle of mail from my box. I didn't bother looking at it there, but went back to my apartment, tossed the mail onto a side table, locked and bolted the front door, then wedged a chair under the door handle, checked the balcony, locked the sliding door and went to bed.