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The Attic

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Madeline knew, as soon as the phone rang, it was Michael on the other end, calling about a favor.

"Hello, Michael," she said.  She puffed a cigarette with her other hand. 

"Hey, Mom.  I need your help."

"What is it?"

"I need you to hide someone for me."

"What's wrong with the loft?"

"That's the problem.  After I told him not to go back to his boss, he decided to trash his boss' office."

"Your client went back to the loft and his boss followed him back there."

"Which is why I'm on the way over."

"Isn't the guy that's following your client following you right now?"

"Yes, but Fi's driving."

"Oh."  Madeline sighed.  "Bring him over.  I'll hide him.  What's his name?"

"Albert."

"Tell Fiona I said hello."  She hung up.

 

Hiding people in her home was nothing new for Madeline.  Sometimes she was able to hide Michael and Nate from Frank, at least for a little while.

One summer, when Michael was ten, he ran into the house. 

"He's coming after me," he said to Madeline, out of breath.

"Who's coming after you?"

"Dad."

"Your father?"

"I was supposed to pretend to have a seizure."

"To get parts for the Charger, right?"

Michael nodded.

"You want to hide?"

Michael nodded again.

"I'll hide you this time, but I can't always hide you."

"Why don't you leave him?  He treats us all bad."

Madeline sighed.  "I don't have the strength to leave him.  Listen, you run upstairs and hide in the attic, okay?  I'll be right back with Nate."

Madeline pulled down the attic door for Michael.  Michael went up it.  Madeline grabbed Nate and helped him up the attic stairs. 

Michael and Nate were hidden just in time before Frank arrived at the house. 

Madeline closed her eyes and balled up her fists.  Whatever Frank dealt her before, she could handle it again.

 

"You must be Albert," Madeline said to him when she opened her door.  "Get in here."

"Thanks, Mom."

"Wait, Michael, where are you going?"

"Trying to make sure Albert's boss doesn't come to your house.  I'll call you once we've lost him."

"And what if you don’t lose Albert's boss?"

"Fi and I will try to get back here as soon as we can."

"Go, Michael."

Michael left the doorstep and Madeline shut the door. 

Madeline noticed Albert ran into her kitchen.  He was hiding behind her bar.

"Do you really think you can hide behind a kitchen counter, Albert?"

Albert hesitated.  "Yes?"

"Get up.  I actually have a place you can hide.  Follow me."

Madeline led Albert to where the attic was.

"I'm going to hide in your attic?"

"What's wrong with the attic?  It has a wooden floor and there's air flowing through it.  It's not like you'll be suffocating up there.  I've hidden people in it before.  You'll be fine."

Madeline opened the attic.  Albert and Madeline walked into it.  Albert was calm until he saw a shotgun perched upon one of the attic's walls.

"I thought your son said I'd be safe in here."

"You are going to be safe in here.   My son thought that, with all the clients he handles, I needed some protection.  So my son's girlfriend gave me a shotgun to arm myself."

"Your son's girlfriend gave you a shotgun."

"She deals with illegal arms.  That's what she does."

"She's a gunrunner?"

"Calm down.  She knows what she's doing."

"Do you know how to fire that thing?"

"Well…no."

"Holy…"

"If you don't calm down, I don't care what my son thinks.  I will give you up to your boss!"

Albert shut up.

"You stay in here and you…"

The doorbell rang.  Madeline picked up the shotgun.

"You stay in here and don't say anything."

Madeline went down the stairs and shut the attic door.

The doorbell rang again.

"I'm coming!"

Madeline looked through the keyhole.  A muscular, balding man in a suit was standing at the door.  She put the gun beside the door and opened it. 

"Hello," she said.  She pretended to be confused.

"I'm looking for Albert Rossman."           

"I'm sorry, I'm Madeline Westen, and I've lived in this neighborhood for decades.  I don't know an Albert Rossman."

"I saw his getaway car park here.  He has to be in this house."

"As I said before, I don't know an Albert Rossman.  You must have the wrong house."

"Lady, I know I don't have the wrong house." 

Albert's boss walked into Madeline's house.  He didn't see the shotgun.

Madeline grabbed the shotgun and pumped it.  She aimed for Albert's boss' back.

"I said Albert Rossman is not here.  I swear to God, if you don't get out of my house, I will kill you!  And I have plenty of neighbors that will testify I did this in self defense and not in cold blood."

Albert's boss turned around and faced Madeline.  "Okay, okay, I believe you, lady.  I'll get out of your house.  Don't shoot me."  He handed Madeline a business card.  "Call me if you see him." 

Albert's boss left Madeline's house. 

When Albert's boss drove away, Madeline put down the shotgun.  She went to the kitchen, lit a cigarette and called Michael. 

"Michael?"

"Yeah, Mom?"

"Albert's boss came by my house."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm okay, Michael.  I used the shotgun Fiona gave me.  I made him leave my house.  Albert's safe in the attic."

"He must've mislead us by having another driver drive around Coral Gables.  Fi and I will be right over."

"Good.  I don't know how to unpump this thing."

 

"The shotgun's on safety again."  Fiona handed the shotgun to Madeline.  "Unless there's a freak accident of some kind, it shouldn't go off."

"Thank you, Fiona.  When are you going to show me how to use that thing?"

"Whenever I'm not driving Michael around." 

Fiona stared at Michael.  Michael smiled at Fiona.

"Thank you for hiding Albert, Mom."

"It's no problem, Michael.  You know I'd do anything for you."

"I know you would."

"Now when are you fixing my VCR?"

Michael nervously smiled at Madeline.

"And don't forget we have an appointment with the therapist on Thursday!"