Hannah’s Big Night
© Mary Calmes 2015
“Where are you going?” I asked my older brother as I walked into his room.
“You’re not supposed to just come in here,” he snapped at me.
“Yeah—yeah,” I said dismissively. “Where are you going?”
He sighed irritably, which was my cue to leave it alone, leave him alone, but he was climbing out his bedroom window onto the roof above the porch, so I had to know.
“Go to sleep.”
I scowled at him. “It’s ten o’clock at night; in what realm of your dodgy imagination am I going to bed this early?”
“Stop,” he groaned. “You’re not British.”
“Are you sure, guvnor?”
He rolled his eyes. “You’re especially not Eliza Doolittle. Being her in one play does not make it so.”
I shot him a look, one he knew, and took a deep breath. I was tired of the run around from my brother, Kola Kage, so I filled my lungs to make sure the yell would carry when I let it out.
“No—no—no,” he gasped, darting across the room, grabbing my hand and pulling me down beside him on his bed. “C’mon, B, you gotta let me go out and check on Anthony.”
“Oh, that’s your friend who borrows your bike.”
His scowl was back. “What?”
“Ugh, really? This is me you’re talking to.”
He considered his audience for a moment, but come on…
“How do you know he borrows my bike?”
“’Cause every morning at around four, he parks your bike behind the house so you have it to ride to school with me and Pa.”
“And last night it wasn’t there, and that was a whopper of a lie you told Pa about leaving it at the park last night.”
Kola squirmed. “I feel bad.”
“You should feel bad ‘cause Pa’s not getting you a new one ‘til after Christmas, and now you look like a scrub walking while we’re both riding.”
His face scrunched up. “A scrub?”
“Just—that’s what Melody Thompson said.”
He thought a second. “How come Melody Thompson already wears make-up?”
“I wear make-up,” I said, sticking up for my friend.
“Only when you’re in a show,” he reminded me.
I nodded. “She wants to be pretty.”
“Well, you don’t have to worry about that.”
I dropped my chin and then looked at him because really, we both knew he was full of poop. “Really?”
“Just tell me what happened already,” I pressed him. He was my brother, he couldn’t keep anything from me, I could always get it out of him. “The bike’s gone and you think something happened to Anthony?”
“Then tell Daddy,” I told him.
“No,” he said, looking scared. “Anthony said if he gets in trouble, he’ll get taken away from his Mom and she’ll have to go back to where she lived before and he’ll have to go to Foster Care.”
“If you don’t have any family, that’s where you go?”
“Who doesn’t have a family?”
“Lots of people.”
“Yeah but,” I was trying to figure it out. “If you don’t have a family, where do you go on Thanksgiving?”
“Anthony says they eat at a shelter.”
“Oh,” I said, nodding, finally something I understood. Last Thanksgiving, me and Kola, Daddy and Pa had all gone to a shelter and served food for the homeless people. “I didn’t know they let kids go to the shelter.”
He nodded. “They do.”
I took a breath. “Yeah, but how come this is about your bike?”
“Well, at night Anthony rides around his neighborhood on my bike and watches for police cars. If he sees one, he makes a call on his cell phone.”
“He has a cell phone?” I was so jealous. “How come?”
My brother shrugged.
“How come he doesn’t use his own bike?”
“It got stolen.”
“Oh, that’s sad.”
“Yeah so now they told him if he doesn’t watch out for police, he has to deliver stuff to people.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad. It’s better than riding a bike in the middle of the night.”
“Yeah, but he’ll have to make his deliveries during the day.”
“And then he’d miss school.” I said, putting it all together. “I see.”
“So, could you please help me?”
“Just stay here and if Riley comes upstairs, you––”
“Nuh-uh,” I said, shooting him down. “I go with you.”
“But I gotta find Anthony and the bike.”
“I can help you; I’m good at finding stuff.”
I took a deep breath again.
He shoved me over on the bed. “Fine, whatever, just don’t yell.”
“Okay,” I said, so happy he was letting me help him. “Where does he live?”
He made a face. “Kinda far.”
“Like we need to take Pa’s bike.”
“Okay,” I agreed. “Just let me change.”
“B,” he whined. “Come on, we gotta go before Daddy and Pa get home from dinner.”
I snorted. “They went to that awful place with the real napkins; they’ll be gone for hours.”
“But you don’t need to––”
“Silence,” I commanded before telling him to go downstairs and tell our cousin Riley that we were going to watch a movie. Not that she cared; she’d be talking to her boyfriend all night, but it was always better just to say something. Misdirection was key. Daddy said that’s what you did when you were undercover, which, technically, we were.
“Oh God,” Kola groaned when I got back to his room.
“Why are you wearing that?”
“Why wouldn’t I wear this?”
“We’re not stealing the bike from anyone.”
“How do you know? Maybe somebody stole it and we’ll have to steal it back.”
“Yeah, but you know that cat burglars don’t actually wear cat ears,” he said snidely. “And there’s still glitter on them from Halloween.”
“Shhhh,” I ordered before climbing out the window.
He was right behind me. “Be careful,” he said, and his voice went up high because it was crackling lately.
Downstairs, we darted around the house, got Pa’s beach cruiser out of the garage—it had fat wheels but still wouldn’t make it too much longer with the snow—and Kola got on before I got on the handlebars. We weren’t supposed to ride like that, Pa didn’t like it, and I couldn’t wear my helmet because of the cat ears, and Kola’s had reflectors on his that he didn’t want to attract attention… so we were both without them. We were double in trouble if we got caught but if Pa caught us, the helmet situation was the least of our problems.
We rode down Harlem Avenue for a while, and then Kola turned off on one side street, and then another, and another, until the street lights weren’t bright white anymore and instead, a sort of dull yellow. There was a ginormous vacant lot we had to go around, and then dark alleys that were creepy that we rode by, and finally Kola announced that we’d reached Anthony’s building. It took more than an hour to get there, and it was really cold. My nose felt like it was going to freeze off.
“Where are you gonna hide Pa’s bike?” I asked my brother.
We looked around for a few minutes, and Kola found a tarp in one of the alleys, and we put it behind a dumpster. Inside the building, we found Anthony’s last name and went up three flights to his apartment.
It was loud inside and a lot of people were arguing in the halls, and there was graffiti but not the pretty kind I liked. When we got to where Anthony lived, the door was open, which wasn’t safe, and Kola called his name.
“Now who the hell is that?!”
We both peered around the corner and there was a lady on the floor, bleeding from her nose and lip, and a man was holding her hair in his fist. There was blood on his other hand, probably from where he’d hit her—it was easy to tell, I watched a lot of TV, so I knew these things—and she was crying.
“Please, Luis,” she begged him.
“What are you doing?!” I shrieked at him.
He let her hair go when he reached for me, and she scrambled to her feet, grabbed me and Kola, and ran us into a bedroom and locked the door.
We both turned and there was Anthony, on the bed. When he sat up, I saw that one of his eyes was big and puffy and couldn’t open, and he was bleeding like the lady.
“Is she your Mommy?” I asked him.
He nodded and then looked back at my brother. “You guys gotta get outta here before Luis hits you too.”
“Help me!” Mrs. Mascaro rasped, trying to push a really heavy chest of drawers in front of the door.
Me, Kola and Anthony all rushed to help her, and then once we moved it, we all got on Anthony’s bed. His mom stared at me and my brother, touching both our faces.
“He would’ve…he was going to…and then Anthony… and now I don’t have a choice and…who are you?”
She was kind of out of it, and crying, but she was bleeding and she had a really big bump on her head, so it made sense.
“This is Kola and his sister B,” Anthony told his mom, crawling over to sit by her, and taking her hand.
“Where’s your phone,” I asked him. “Kola said you have a cell phone.”
He reached under the mattress and passed it to me as somebody started banging on the door.
Mrs. Mascaro screamed, which scared me, but I only dialed faster. After a second, he answered.
He sounded growly but that was because he didn’t know it was me yet. “Daddy!”
“B?” He sounded confused which made sense since this wasn’t our phone at home. “Who’s phone is this?”
He had Riley’s phone number programmed into his so again, the question made sense. “Daddy, there’s a man trying to hurt Anthony and his mom, and we’re in their house, and he’s trying to break into the room.”
Anthony’s mom screamed again.
“B,” he said, and it was like he didn’t have any air. “Where are you?”
I passed the phone to Kola because I didn’t know, and he gave Daddy the address as he listened a moment before moving the phone away from his ear and putting it on speakerphone.
“Keep the phone on,” he directed us. “And talk to Pa.”
“Pa,” I whimpered.
“Hi, B,” he said, his voice shaking. “Tell me what’s happening now?”
“The bad man is trying to get in, but the dresser is super heavy.”
“Okay,” he said as there was a huge bang and the chest of drawers moved a little.
“Pa, it’s moving,” I said, getting really scared.
“Don’t worry, B,” Kola told me, and then he got off the bed, and even though Mrs. Mascaro yelled at him to get back, he walked over to the door at the same time it sort of blew up.
The dresser got thrown sideways and the door flew open, and there wasn’t just Luis anymore, there were two other guys with him, standing there. Kola was so brave, facing them, and even when one of the men made like he was going to hit him, he didn’t move.
“You better leave us alone,” he told them. “My Daddy’s coming and he’s a marshal.”
“He’ll kill you if you hurt us,” I screamed at them.
Luis grabbed Kola by the throat, and I got up and ran to him. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I didn’t want him to hit my brother like he hit Anthony and his mom. But when I reached them something weird happened, and he looked at me and then he looked again like I surprised him. I lifted the phone to my ear to tell Pa what was happening, but he took it from me, hurling it into a wall, then shoved Kola down and grabbed me.
I tried to use my Tae Kwon Do moves on him, but I was only a yellow belt, Kola was blue, but one of the men had a gun. Daddy had told us not to try and hit someone if they had a gun.
One of the men picked me up and carried me out of the room, and when Kola tried to run after me, Luis slammed the door in his face.
I got slung over the guy’s shoulder and when I tried kicking and punching, he put me down on one of the landings, I wasn’t sure which one, and Luis slapped me really hard across the face. It hurt bad and I started crying, even though I knew it was weenie. Luis grabbed my arm tight and dragged me down the stairs and outside, and then he put me in the backseat of a car. Luis got in the back with me, and the other two got in the front and the tires made the whiny noise when we drove away.
It was weird to be in a car with strangers, and I tried to think of how long I was going to be grounded when I got home.
“I need you to call your Daddy,” Luis told me, shoving a phone at me.
I was confused. “I already called my Daddy, he was coming.”
He shook his head. “Don’t play dumb with me, I know who you are little girl, I’ve seen your picture in the paper.”
I wasn’t sure what he meant.
“You’re Aaron Sutter’s kid.”
“Yes, you are,” he snarled at me like a dog, “I saw you in the paper just this morning.”
And I got it. “Oh, that’s because I went to the Aquarium with him last night,” I explained. “My Uncle Duncan had to work, so I went with Uncle Aaron to the fundraiser gala.” I loved going with him, and sometimes I even got to go when Uncle Duncan was there. But I always got a new dress, and I had a white princess coat I got to wear that had crystals for buttons that I wore with my white gloves. Sometimes I even got new shoes, but Pa told Uncle Aaron I couldn’t have new ones every time. But last night was special because I even wore my tiara. “But he’s not my Daddy, he’s my Uncle.”
“Uncle my ass—that’s your father, so you better get him on the phone because if he wants you back in one piece, he’s going to pay.”
He had the guy in the passenger seat pass him a phone from the glove compartment and it was really old, one of the flippy kind that I knew was a burner because Daddy said that’s the kind crooks used, and he shoved it into my hands and told me to call my Dad.
It was lucky for me that I had four numbers memorized and they were Daddy’s, Pa’s, Auntie Aja’s, and Uncle Aaron’s. So I dialed and it rang a lot of times before he answered.
“Who is this and how did you get this number?”
“Uncle Aaron,” I said and sniffled a little ‘cause I was a bit scared. “I need some money.”
Maybe he couldn’t hear me. “I’m in trouble and I need some money.”
The phone was muffled for a minute. “B?”
“You need money?”
He chuckled. “Honey, does your father know you’re calling me?”
“And why not?”
“Because I got taken.”
“Wait, what?” He said, and now he sounded like he couldn’t breathe just like had happened to Daddy. “Honey, where are you?”
“A man has me.”
I put the phone on my chest. “Can I tell him who you are?”
Luis shook his head and I put the phone back to my ear. “He said I can’t tell you.”
He took a breath. “Ask him how much money he needs to bring you to me.”
I looked up at the Luis. “How much money do you want?”
He snatched the phone from me. “Sutter, if you ever want to see your little girl again, you need to deliver ten million dollars to Navy Pier by midnight.” He listened then. “I’ll call you back with the details.”
Ten million dollars was a lot of money. I wasn’t sure I was worth that much. “Can I talk to him?” I asked Luis.
“No,” he snapped and hit the END button.
I started to cry because I really wanted to talk to Uncle Aaron, but then I remembered what Pa said about getting kidnapped. He said that you had to always try and get away. You never had to stop. And Pa knew a lot about being kidnapped—he was kind of an expert since it happened to him more than once. Daddy always said it was ‘cause he was a trouble magnet, but Pa said that was nonsense. My Uncle Dane said the magnet stuff was true too, but Uncle Dane thought I was one too, and that was just bananas. So I wiped my face on my sleeve—which Pa didn’t like, but I didn’t see me asking Luis for a Kleenex—and I checked to see if the door was locked.
Our van at home locked automatically. As soon as Pa moved the stick thing to the D, you could hear the doors lock, but this car was old, there weren’t even shoulder seatbelts in the backseat where I was, and so the door wasn’t locked since I could see the button thing was up.
When we stopped at a light, I pretended like I was gonna barf, and Luis told me to roll the window down. But I pulled the door handle and opened it instead.
I fell into the street, and there were a lot of cars, but I ran fast and they missed me, and when I got to the sidewalk, I ran some more.
I got kinda turned around, but then I saw The Flamingo and I knew where I was. Sometimes I got mixed up—did Daddy work in the U.S. Courthouse building or the Federal building?—but last time we went there, Kola said it was the thirty story one and not the forty-two story one, so I ran to the right one and pounded on the door a second before I saw the two men walking up the street. Both of them had the same star as Daddy hanging around their necks, so I got to them as quick as I could. As soon as I reached them, one of them knelt down to talk to me.
“Sweetheart, what are you doing out here so late?”
It was kind of hard to breathe because I ran so far. “I’m––”
“You’re Hannah, aren’t you?” The other man said. “I’ve seen your picture.”
It was neat how big the man’s eyes got. “You’re Sam Kage’s daughter?”
He picked me up, which normally, since I was ten now, I didn’t like, but I was tired and getting cold, so it was okay.
“What happened, honey,” the marshal who wasn’t holding me asked. “Why’re you here?”
So I told him about Anthony and his Mom and Kola, and me and Pa’s bike—because that was important—and Kola being brave, and Luis hitting me, and the other two men and how I had to call Uncle Aaron, and how much ten million was, and how come Luis thought I was Uncle Aaron’s daughter, and how silly that was, and how far I’d run.
“Okay,” he said as he used his card to make the door open, and pulled his gun out at the same time.
Once the three of us were inside, he put his gun back in the holster before we all went up in the elevator.
“You can call me B,” I told the man who was holding me.
He smiled at me. “Well, you can call me Ian, and this is Miro.”
They were nice, and I wasn’t scared one bit, and when we got to the office, they took me to the breakroom and put ice on my face and gave me a juice box to drink. I didn’t really like grape, apple was my favorite, but I didn’t want to make them think I wasn’t appreciative. Pa always said you had to be nice even if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted.
After a few minutes, Miro passed me his phone.
“B?” Daddy sounded funny, like he’d run far too.
“Hi, Daddy, are you mad at me?”
He coughed. “No, baby, I’m not mad at you.”
“Is Kola okay?”
“Yes, love, Kola’s fine.”
“Is Anthony okay?”
“And his mommy?”
“Everybody’s fine, sweetie. What’d—did those men hurt you?”
“Luis hit me on the face,” I told him. “Miro gave me ice to put on my cheek.”
He coughed again. “But that’s all?”
I heard him take a breath. “
“Daddy, you can’t let Anthony get taken away from his Mommy, okay?”
“Do they have to go back to his Mommy’s country?”
“And could they come and have Thanksgiving with us at Nana’s?”
“They’re not going to be here tomorrow, B, so no.”
I knew Daddy made people safe by moving them far away and giving them new names. I didn’t know how he did that, but Pa had explained that much to me. “Okay, so long as they’re together that’s all that matters, right?”
“Oh, Dad, did you get Pa’s bike?”
“Kola made sure I got it, yes.”
Such a relief. “Are you coming to get me now?”
“Yes, honey, I’m on my way.”
“Will you call Uncle Aaron and tell him I don’t need the money?”
There was a long silence before he said, “I’m sorry, what?”
So I told him about calling Uncle Aaron, and then he had to get off the phone and I gave Miro back his. “I wonder why Daddy didn’t want to talk to me anymore.”
“It ain’t like that,” the other marshal, Ian, told me. “He wants to talk to you, but he’s gotta call your uncle and tell him everything’s all right, and then he’s gonna go pick that guy up and feed him his teeth.”
“Ian,” Miro whispered.
“What?” He gave Miro the look Kola gave me when he thought I said something dumb. “He is.”
“It’s okay,” I told Miro, patting his hand. “Daddy always says that if anybody hurts me or Pa or Kola that he’ll kill them, so, you know, he might shoot Luis in the head.”
They were both staring at me like I was an alien or something.
Miro cleared his throat and took my hand in his. “Sweetie, your Daddy doesn’t go around shooting people, but that man that took you is in a lot of trouble. Your Daddy has to alert Chicago PD and tell them that he kidnapped you and asked for a ransom. Before, we weren’t sure why he took you or even if he did it on accident, but now we know he had a plan. That changes things. That’s a federal offense.”
“Does that mean super in trouble?”
“That’s exactly what that means,” Ian said, smiling at me.
I smiled back because sitting at the table with them, I knew nothing else bad was going to happen to me.
A while later, I was sitting at Miro’s desk helping him look for his mouse that other people liked to take, and watching Ian smell a mango that he took out of the fruit basket.
“That’s a huge basket,” I told him.
“A nice lady sends it to us once a month,” Miro told me. “We helped her kids out when we were in Phoenix.”
“May I have one of the apples?”
“Go for it.”
I was picking one when I heard my Daddy.
When I turned around there he was, and I ran to him as fast as I could. It didn’t take long since he was running too, and when he reached me, he scooped me up and hugged me.
He held me super tight, and I wiggled so I could get my arms around his neck. I kissed his cheek and held on and even though I was okay, I started to cry.
“It’s okay, B, I’ll always find you.”
“I know,” I told him.
He gave me one last squeeze, and then there was a noise by the elevator and there were more marshals, and Luis and the two other guys all in handcuffs.
Luis looked like Anthony and his mom now, all bloody and bruised. I watched him walk by and he almost stopped to look at me. His mouth dropped open, and I was going to say, “See, I told you,” but it was bad manners to gloat. Uncle Dane always said so.
“Daddy,” I whispered up at him. “Did you feed Luis his teeth?”
He glanced over at Ian, who only smiled before he knelt down next to me. “I just had a quick word with him about taking children who don’t belong to him.”
I nodded. “I understand, it’s ‘cause you love me.”
“I do indeed.”
As Daddy and I went down in the elevator, I asked him how come Pa and Kola didn’t come up.
“I didn’t want Luis or those guys to see Kola again, and I didn’t want them to see Pa.”
“In case they come back for revenge,” I said, getting it. “Good call.”
He squinted at me. “You know what’s going on, right, because you watch a lot of television?”
“Of course you do,” he sighed. “We’re going to the emergency room after this, you know.”
“You and Pa sure do like that place.”
“We don’t like it,” I promised him. “Sometimes it just happens.”
He made a noise like I was full of it.
“You know,” I said, squeezing his hand as he looked at my cheek. “I know what I’m gonna say this year when we go around the table and say what we’re thankful for.”
“And what is that?”
“My family and Miro and Ian.”
“Miro and Ian, huh?”
“Yeah.” And then I thought of something. “Maybe you should invite them to Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s.”
“They’re good,” he said in that way he had where it sounded like the sound was coming out of his chest.
He picked me up as the elevator doors whooshed open, and I saw Pa and Kola on the other side of the room by the doors. They both came running.
“I can’t wait to get home,” I told Daddy before they reached me.
“That’s good,” he said, “because you and your brother are going to be grounded until the end of time.”
I really didn’t mind. It was home after all.