A Charitable Plunge
The chandeliers sparkled with mystery in the classy low light. The expensive band lulled the room into relaxed submission while hands adorned with expensive rings, bracelets, and watches lazily reached for glasses of decadent champagne off the trays of tightly groomed wait staff as they expertly navigated the dimly lit party hall. The night was in full celebration mode, and the mood was good. The band and the alcohol kept things running that way until the food came out. Lavish dishes of various kinds were efficiently presented from a hard working kitchen staff. Every meal catered to the seat’s desire in advance thanks to an organized RSVP card indicating the attendee’s gourmet dish of choice. The wait staff populated the tables with their entrees starting with the highest paid seats in the room and working their way down to the “cheap” seats. There was little doubt to anyone there that night that a lot of money was being thrown down on this gathering.
“I can’t believe you finally said yes.”
“Here we go again.”
“I’m just saying that I was beginning to think that I was never going to wear you down.”
“You didn’t wear me down, Danny. This is a work function dinner. We’re here officially in the capacity of the Rose Tribune.
“You’re dressed up in that expensive black cocktail dress, that jewelry looks high end, those shoes are definitely dressy, and I’d wager you even bought special pantyhose for tonight,” he added with a chuckle and a peek under the table for good measure.
“I told you, stop that!” scolded Dawn, pulling the tablecloth back down to cover her long nylon clad legs, crossed teasingly beneath the table. “This is a black tie event, I’m dressed as required. Thank you for your compliments, if you must know you look very charming yourself this evening, Danny,” Dawn added curtly with a smile. She knew that he was excited to be there as her honorary date, and truth be told, she was even a little excited herself.
Danny Breslin had worked at the Rose Tribune with Dawn Meadows for a couple years now, and he had made very little secret about his affections for the leggy peril prone reporter. He handled internal research at the Rose assisting as research augmentation for various scoops the field reporters worked on. His was the deep dirty work that was seemingly thankless though everybody knew that not a single great story came to light without the many logged hours of toil of one Danny Breslin.
Dawn had thus far downplayed Danny’s affections as workplace flirtation, never stringing him on, but never giving in to his insistent requests for a date. She kept the flirting harmless, and smiled when he brought her flowers, always thanked him when he brought her coffee in the morning. She wouldn’t be half the reporter she was without his help on computer problems, and getting research done in a pinch. Danny’s abilities at cracking codes, getting access to places where Dawn had none, even stuff that borderline on hacking was unparalleled. That gray area was information that Dawn and Danny often kept to themselves, as it would raise a few too many red flags with the brass at the Rose Tribune, specifically their editor, Mr. O’Neil.
Speaking of the “chief” he was seated across the table from them with his wife, a dragon of a lady, who Danny questioned his imagination or if she might be casting Dawn acidic looks. It wouldn’t be far fetched. O’Neil’s wife was nearly as large as her husband, and from the looks of her demeanor, she was every bit full of fiery rage that drove the Rose Tribune editor to be one the most feared presences on earth when he was on the rampage at the office. She, in appearance was the ogre-ish female counterpart to Mr. O’Neil. Dawn Meadows on the other hand was a classical beauty out of a fairytale. Her slender body was graceful in all directions. Her long legs, slender arms, dainty hands with, well manicured nails, a head of lush long blonde hair, pools of emerald green eyes, porcelain white skin, she simply hurt to look at for too long.
Mr. O’Neil and his stout wife were dressed in tuxedo and cocktail dress respectively representing the Rose Tribune at the function. Dawn and Danny had been invited to show additional support of the “talent” at the Rose. The function was a fundraiser that was hosted and in honor of Gerald Sinclair, a very wealthy business man well known for his charities to the less fortunate of New York City. His exact business was difficult to summarize as he seemingly amassed his fortune by dabbling in many markets all at the seemingly right time. He was a very well known contribution to the coffers of the Rose Tribune, which made Dawn’s suspicions of him all the more difficult. Dawn Meadows did not trust big business. Perhaps it was all the time she spent as a little girl observing her father’s dealings with captains of industry that led the to amassing of the Meadow’s empire that led her to view business with a critical eye. Business the bigger it got, she felt, the further it strayed on the moral compass. Dawn loved and respected her father very much, and ever since his and her mother’s tragic death, she missed them dearly. But that did not mean she was blind to some of the sinister men that her father had dealings with. They argued about it increasingly after she turned 12, but he often chided his “little princess” that things were not as black and white as she wished them to be in the world. And that was where they always left their disagreement. To Dawn, the world was black and white. Maybe not in every situation, but in the business world, there was a right and wrong. The 12 year old inside her was telling her that Gerald Sinclair was leaning on the wrong side.
This dilemma once again returned to Sinclair’s massive donations to the funding of the Rose Tribune. Much of their modern equipment and facility upgrades were paid with money provided by Sinclair. As editor of the Tribune, O’Neil never missed a Sinclair charity function. Call it the politics of the game, it was expected that he show his high profile appearance, show gratitude. Sinclair was a man with a lot of money, O’Neil was a respected man in the city of New York; it was an agreement. Whatever dirt sullied the reputation of the mysterious dealings of Gerald Sinclair seemed to be washed clean by having a George O’Neil at his table.
With lives, reputations, politics, and so much of Sinclair’s money intertwined in the continued production of the Rose Tribune, it was very difficult for Dawn to bring this type of hunch to her surly editor. The man could be a bull to deal with. This would send him off the charts. They would report the earthquake on the news. Without rock solid evidence, Dawn could not even bring it up to Mr. O’Neil. She had pulled a lot of stunts in the past, but something like this would get her fired on the spot, no second chances if her case was not airtight. The intrepid reporter wondered if she might get fired even if her case was airtight. She shook her head of her doubts that politics could trump truth and justice. It’s the reason that she did not sit upon her fortune and live the vacant life of a debutante, void of substance. The Meadow’s fortune was hers, the money, the mansion, the servants, she could turn her back on it all, and fall into the oblivion, but Dawn chose to answer the call that came from deep within her heart after the news came at the death of her parents. Truth and justice would have their champion, and it was not a battle-scarred warrior. It was a leggy blonde in designer skirt suits, sheer pantyhose, and killer heels, armed with a nose for peril.
Danny was looking at Dawn, her green eyes were far away, and he could guess what she was thinking. A sudden vibration in his pocket drew his attention away from the object of his affection. Furtively sliding his cell phone out of his pocket, he read the text, and slid the phone back into his pocket. Leaning over toward Dawn, he drank the sweet nectar of her alluring perfume and whispered “It’s time. My contact says that the meeting should be taking place in about five minutes. The chance for visual is now.”
Dawn nodded her understanding, and folded the napkin in front of her at the table. Uncrossing her long legs, she pushed her chair back and pretended to excuse herself from the table momentarily. As she took a step away from the table, avoiding Mrs. O’Neil’s dirty look, Danny caught her bare slender arm, “Be careful,” he whispered. Dawn caught his gaze, and with her devastatingly beautiful green eyes, gave him a wink of reassurance.
Outside the air was warm, and humid. The charity was being held on the waterfront, and the texture of the salt water touched, while the sound of the waves lapping against the dock, echoed off the sides of the building. Dawn crept as quietly as she could in her high heels on the pavement. The generously short skirt of her little black cocktail dress did not help movement in any way either. Reaching the end of a brick wall, the investigating reporter poked her head out then reeled it back quickly in a stream of blond hair. She had caught the briefest glimpse of the charitable Gerald Sinclair having a conversation with a well-known, high-ranking member of the Triad gang that was plaguing the New York underworld. While the police needed no help from the snooping high heels of Dawn Meadows to collar the Triad gang, they might pay attention to more than just her pantyhose clad legs if she provided visual proof of Gerald Sinclair doing back alley business dealings with the heads of the Triad gang.
Reaching into her purse, Dawn pulled out her cell phone and turned on the camera function. All she had to do was muster up the courage to creep back up to that brick corner and snap a few shots of Gerald Sinclair and his newest underworld business partner. As she inched her way up, holding the phone around the corner with her well-manicured hand, Dawn peered at the viewfinder framing her shots. Sinclair stood in his trench coat wearing a tux underneath, he was ready to complete his transaction and head straight into his charity event and give a charismatic speech on how important it was to help the less fortunate of the city. The thought turned Dawn’s tone tummy, but she did her best to stay objective for the task at hand. This was no time to get emotional. In Sinclair’s hand was a bag full of money, and the Triad member held a briefcase open before his customer, bags of narcotics neatly and tightly stacked within. Dawn focused on snapping her photos, documenting the transaction with precision. Her focus was perhaps a little too narrow, as she took no notice to the shadow of a Tommy gun creeping up the brick wall behind her. Worse still was the monstrously deformed face of the man who held the gun that crept up behind the distracted reporter and grabbed a fistful of her silky blond hair in his oily gloved hand, yanking back on it hard.
The utter surprise shocked Dawn with a squeak, causing her to drop the phone even before the shock of the pain in her scalp caused her to squeak in fear. She tried to turn her head to see her attacker, but the firmness of his grip on her hair controlled her limited field of vision, and she could only make out the barrel of his gun pointing over her bare shoulder next to her smooth cheek. The sight caused her body to tense with dread. Her breathing quickened, and her body involuntarily betrayed her with trembling. Without even thinking, she mumbled a quiet “please,” not even knowing what was going on, but so desperate to negotiate before something dreadful happened to her.
Her answer came with a powerful shoe stamping down on her cell phone, once, twice, three times as he smashed it and her digital evidence of Sinclair’s drug transaction with the Triad into tiny fragments. The brute force of his action caused Dawn to wince. Her mind transformed the violence against her cell phone into what he might do to her, and the thoughts made her squeeze her eyes shut and try to get her breathing under control.
“Move,” he said, the one utterance in a croak of a voice, sinister in one powerful commanding syllable. He held fast to Dawn’s poor hair much to her discomfort, and gave her a shove forward. The walking was doubly awkward in her heels while having her hair wholly possessed in the fist of some psycho with a machine gun pointed at her back but she wobbled along as commanded. Her mind would not allow her to consider the alternative. Dawn stumbled around the corner at the urging of her new friend just in time to see the Triad gang pack up in their cars and vacate the docks. Sinclair stood with his back to them, brief case of his new purchase at his side in hand. He turned as Dawn was forced forward, the bottoms of her heels scraping with no traction and thus no defense against the pebbles on the pavement.
“I found this girlie snooping around, Boss. She seemed pretty interested in things, taking pictures,” croaked the goon.
“Pictures, eh?” replied Sinclair now facing Dawn, he stepped forward into the light, and for the first time, the terrified reporter got a good look at his face. He was a weasel of man with severe features, a hawkish nose, and a dreadful scar that ran the full left side of his face. Whatever had caused it must have been painful at the time. His expression seemed to portray permanent danger for whoever fell under his gaze. Taking another step closer to his captive audience, he reached a gloved hand toward her face. Dawn squirmed and whimpered, turning her face this way and that, but the goon only responded by pulling tighter on her hair, causing her to cry out in pain. In the last few inches, Sinclair’s hand shot quickly, grabbing Dawn’s cheeks and chin roughly in his grasp, forcing her to look at him. She had defiance in her eyes.
“Are you a photographer, honey?” he asked her with a degrading pet name. When she replied with nothing but more squirming, he increased the pressure on his grasp of her face. The defiance faded into fear; fear that filled up the green in her eyes; eyes that she obediently fixed on his vicious gaze. She mumbled a response, but Sinclair was squeezing her face to hard for it to be intelligible. Loosening his grip, he gave her another try. “What’s that sugar legs?” he asked again with a serpentine grin. The goon giggled at his boss’s question, a horrifying sound, but not nearly as horrifying as the way he slid his gloved hand up and down her nylon clad thighs while he did so. Dawn could feel her composure fleeing her with every passing moment and touch.
“My name… is… Dawn… Meadows,” she squeaked with a stutter.
“Dawn Meadows?” repeated Sinclair, tasting the name, rolling it around on his tongue. His goon laughed again, taking his liberties with curves of the captive reporter’s backside and her hips. She shuddered and felt her knees beginning to give out. Another sharp tug on her long blonde hair and she found renewed strength, for the moment. “Why might you be interested in taking my picture, Miss Meadows? If you’re a big fan, you should just come out and say so. If you’re looking for a date,” he paused looking her up and down, “I’m sure Jimmy here can tire out those long legs, no matter how expensive those Saturday night sheers were,” he added, indicating the quality of her “date night” pantyhose.
Certain that she was about to be raped by Sinclair’s goon, Dawn’s panic ridden mind shut down, and she clammed up short of unintelligible whimpers that escaped her ruby lips, and the trembling that her body continued to betray her with. Sinclair analyzed her for several quiet moments with his vicious gaze before turning and walking toward the side of the building. He put the drug filled brief case down, and exchanged it for a large metal pan, and a bag of dry powdered cement. Returning to face Dawn’s curious expression, he dropped them on the ground at her feet, the pan echoing in the night, masked by the crashing of the waves. Looking down at the bag of cement and the metal pan, it suddenly occurred to Dawn, what Sinclair’s intent was, and it made her aware that what she thought was the pit of her stomach was actually just the beginning, and the true pit of her stomach was much, much, much further down.
With a nod from his boss, Jimmy lifted Dawn up off the ground by her hair with surprising ease. She was a wisp of a girl, but it still must have taken surprising upper body strength, and he endured it all with but a solid grunt. Dawn cried out in horrific discontent as the pain flared across her scalp with the very unanticipated stress on her lovely hair. Sinclair kicked the large metal pan beneath the panicked kicking heels of the girl’s long legs, then Jimmy mercifully lowered her down until her heels clicked against the bottom of the metal pan. Her scalp sighed in relief as the spots before her eyes slowly retreated, giving her vision back. Still expertly holding firmly onto Dawn’s mane of blonde hair to keep her in place, Jimmy bent down and with his other hand began to poor the bag of powdered cement into the pan. At first, the grey matter dusted the shine of Dawn’s dressy heels, and then it buried them and slowly claimed her trim stocking clad ankles, the powdery level climbing eagerly up her long fit calves.
“Please don’t do this, My name is Dawn Meadows. I’m a reporter for the Rose Tribune. I made a mistake taking the pictures. He, I mean, Jimmy, he destroyed my phone so the pictures are gone. Mr. O’Neil is my editor; I know you know him. I swear I won’t breath a word about this to anyone. You don’t have to… I mean… please… Not this… I promise… please don’t… I’m begging you… please,” Dawn suddenly found her voice all at once when she felt the grains of dry cement filling her dress shoes, the pressure around her ankles, the realization at what was going on. The panic caused her words to flood. She put her hands together and begged Sinclair to spare her life.
“You see, Miss Meadows, the problem with reporters like you, is that you can’t hang out a guy like me to dry fast enough. You use your crude little tricks, and type out your fancy little stories, with your bold headlines so that you can prance around New York City in your designer suits with the short skirts, flashing your long legs in your pantyhose, and your bedroom high heels, whoring out your story and calling it news. Then when you finally get a snag in those perfect little nylons of yours because you got caught snooping on my business, you cry and you beg for a guy like me to spare your life. I got news for you, honey. You are going to be a message for the pantyhose brigade of nosey girls out there with their note pads and pencils, eager for a story. Keep your legs and your nylons under a desk at the office. Out here, they’re just going to end up in the drink. I’ll fill this harbor with so many pairs of pantyhose and the legs of the nosy reporters in them that it will put Legg’s, Hanes, and all the rest of them out of business. They’ll wonder why pantyhose sales have slipped, and it will be because all you ladies couldn’t keep your nose out of Gerald Sinclair’s business. Victoria’s Secret will be that all her stockings ended up as fish food at the bottom of the New York Harbor.” Sinclair delivered his goodbye speech to Dawn as the cement dried around her slender calves. With Jimmy’s help, the lifted her out of the metal pan, feet securely trapped in a large, heavy block of cement. They carried her to the end of the dock and despite her cries, begging, they unceremoniously tossed her over the edge.
The cement block surrounding Dawn’s feet splashed heavily into the water, pulling her with it despite her best hopes of otherwise. The water rushed up to meet her and she had only a fraction of a second to remember to take as big a gulp of air as her cheeks could hold before she was dragged beneath the surface by the weight in which entombed her feet. The cement block assured her swift decent, her long blonde hair trailing like beautiful kelp. The shock and suddenness of it all was overwhelming to the horrified reporter as she contemplated her circumstances. It was mere moments before the cement block settled on the sandy ocean floor, demanding her permanent company. Cheeks bulged out, she reached above her head with her bare graceful arms, willing her fingers to wiggle and desperately seek out the surface while her hair gently floated above her head in an odd lazy motion. When the oxygen felt faint in her cheeks, she reached for her throat in confusion, thinking perhaps it was hiding in there, only it was the lack of oxygen that was causing her confusion. The more she thought about it, and wondered where that precious oxygen had gone off to, the dizzier she became. It became more difficult to keep her mouth closed, but it seemed like a really bad idea to open it, she was under water after all. Dawn’s rational and irrational sides hashed it out over what to do as she felt her consciousness fading. The last thing she remembered was opening her mouth to scream and thinking this is definitely not a good idea; I’m underwater! Speaking of which, this salt water cannot be good for this cocktail dress, not to mention these pantyhose. The tag said hand wash only in warm water. Nice going Dawn, NOW you’ve done it! One more time I only got a single wear out of a pair of perfectly good nylons!