THE SLIPPERY CAPTIVE


At the sound of the approaching police officer, Daniel looked up from 
where he had been sitting and starting blankly at his shoes. The 
uniformed cop nodded at him.

"She's on her way now, sir," the officer said.

Daniel rubbed his eyes wearily. The strain of getting his prisoner 
processed and transported to a secure federal facility had been 
weighing heavily on him all day. Prisoner transfers are trying under 
the best of circumstances, never mind when the prisoner in question 
is the equivalent of a criminal celebrity.

As far as official records went, the woman's real name was probably 
Lila DeWinter, but newscasters and the police often simply referred 
to her as "The Businesswoman". This nom de guerre was arrived at 
because of the rather businesslike and severe manner in which she 
tended to dress, as well as the fact that she did, indeed, run her 
organized criminal endeavors much like an efficient business. Though 
she had a cadre of underlings she relied upon, Lila often took an 
active part in her nefarious crimes, which usually involved 
kidnapping. As beautiful as she was infamous, The Businesswoman was 
a consummate abductress. Her capers never seemed to involve violence 
or brutality. Rather, she preferred to render her victims helpless 
with an impressive array of sleep-inducing gadgets and devices.

Having spent the better part of the last year and a half pursuing the 
elusive woman, Daniel could attest personally to the effectiveness of 
her narcotic arsenal. Eight months ago, Daniel had actually tracked 
Lila down to a hotel she had been operating from. Unschooled in how 
sly his quarry was, a bit giddy at having gotten the drop on her, and 
perhaps too taken in by the exotic beauty of the statuesque, raven-
tressed abductress, Daniel foolishly allowed the woman to collect her 
belongings prior to walking her downstairs. This led to Lila being 
permitted a cigarette before leaving the room...which led to a cloud 
of fragrant smoke being "accidentally" blown into Daniel's 
face...which led to a heartfelt apology...and the strangest 
disorientation...and finding her moving nearer to him...his gun 
feeling heavier...his eyelids feeling heavier...a reassuring hand 
upon his arm...impossibly red, smiling lips...a deep drag...smoke 
slipping ceaselessly from between those lips...those smiling 
lips...the floor rushing up to meet him. By the time his partner was 
breaking an ammonia capsule under his nose to revive him, Daniel's 
prisoner was long gone. 

It was a humiliation that only fueled his desire to see The 
Businesswoman brought to justice. Since then his pursuit had been 
relentless, though she always seemed to be two steps ahead of him 
at all times. Finally, through the luckiest of circumstances, she 
had been caught. Even though command was giving him full credit for 
the capture, Daniel knew in his heart that it was pure chance that 
led to Lila being taken into custody. Now he was simply anxious to 
bring the long drama of the chase to a conclusion.

Daniel sat back in the uncomfortable hallway chair and peered at the 
cop. "You're sure?"

The cop nodded. "They just took her on the elevator," he assured 
Daniel.

The frazzled detective rubbed his eyes once more, already starting to 
feel the tension leave his body. "Thank god," he muttered quietly.

"Go figure, huh?" the cop continued, sipping from a mug of awful 
precinct coffee. "First time I ever seen her in person. Great 
lookin' broad like that some kinda master crook. What a waste, huh?"

"Uh huh," Daniel said, not really listening to the man go on.

"She sure looked hot today, y'know? Tight little jacket and skirt 
with the flower pinned on...hair up all sexy like...high heels that 
must've been..."

Daniel was suddenly on his feet. Energy seemed to flood back into 
his body, and his eyes bore into the surprised officer as he grabbed 
the man's arm. The cop dropped his mug to the floor.

"What did you say?" Daniel demanded.

"Hey, what're you..?"

"What did you SAY?"

"Umm.." the cop stammered. "High-heels..."

"She wasn't wearing a flower this morning!"

The cop seemed to be trying to think of some suitable answer. Daniel 
closed his eyes and murmurmed. "Oh, shit. Shit."

He released the confused cop's arm and bolted for the elevator. The 
cop stared dumbly down at the puddle of coffee on the floor. "What 
the hell's HIS problem?"

Daniel saw the stairwell door as he rounded the corner, and instantly 
realized it was a better idea. He banged through the third floor 
door and took the steps down three and four at a time. He burst into 
the parking garage of the municiple building, his eyes frantically 
scanning left then right. No sign of activity. He spotted the 
transport van. Still here. Maybe...maybe...

He rushed to the elevator doors and stabbed at the call button 
once...twice.

"Come on, dammit."

The door finally slid slowly open. He didn't even have to look 
inside, as a too-familiar frangrance assailed his senses. Months of 
finding the aftermath of Lila's crimes had well acquainted him with 
this scent. The candy-sweet fragrance of The Businesswoman's 
sleeping gas.

As the door opened completely, Daniel surveyed the three detectives 
that were sprawled upon the floor of the elevator. Two of the men 
were obviously completely unconscious, and the third was propped 
against the wall in a slumped sitting position. Somehow he had 
managed to barely hold onto consciousness, for all the good it had 
done him. His eyes were so nearly closed that they might as well 
have been. He wore a silly, distant smile, and his cheek was stained 
by the crimson imprint of a woman's lips. He murmured something 
almost too quietly to be heard.

"...mmmmmm...sleeeepy...."

Near the foot of the fading detective was what Daniel had expected to 
find. A flower blossom with pale pink gas still gently wafting 
from it.

Daniel took a step back and muttered with disgust, "Just terrific."

"Getting careless, darling," came a silky, feminine voice from behind 
him.

His reaction was slowed just a bit by the shock of recognition, but 
Daniel turned quickly and his hand scrambled for his sidearm. The 
Businesswoman was, as usual, way ahead of him.

He caught a glimpse of a shapely figure standing in the shadows, and 
of a gloved hand deftly throwing something at him. Surprised and off-
guard, he felt a moist, filmy gossamer substance cover his face and 
cling there. It had a potent, cloying, narcotic odor that was 
inescapable. Daniel pulled at it with his hand, but it almost seemed 
to have become a part of his skin.

As if through a soft-focus lens, he saw Lila step out of the 
shadows. Dressed, of course, in a fashionable and chic ensemble, she 
was smoking a cigarette in a short holder and smiling fondly. The 
anesthetic in the gossamer was working quickly on him.

"It's called a sleeping veil," she explained, casually blowing a 
stream of smoke toward the ceiling. "And I saved it just for you, 
dearheart."

Weakened, Daniel fell to his knees, still trying to pull the stubborn 
gossamer off. The knockout chemical continued to wrap his senses in 
thick cotton. He saw a pair of stiletto heels walking calmly over to 
him, and he gazed up--though with some effort now. Lila was smiling 
down at him. She took another puff of her holder and reached down to 
remove the cell phone from his belt.

"..n..no.." he murmured, ineffectually trying to push her hand away.

She laughed lightly and playfully blew smoke into his upturned face.

"Naughty boy," she remarked with amusment, taking the cell phone 
easily from him. 

She stood and dialed a number, while Daniel tried hopelessly to 
resist the effects of the drug that he continued to breathe in. As 
she waited for an answer, she took a meditative puff of her holder. 
She looked down at her victim with a small smile as she noticed him 
uselessly trying to maintain his grip on consciousness.

"You might as well relax and let it put you to sleep, my dear. 
You're coming with me this time."

Daniel made one last attempt. From his knees he made a feeble grab 
for Lila's jacket, but simply fell against her with his cheek coming 
to rest on her thigh. He felt her gloved hand absently pat and then 
caress his cheek. As if from far away, he heard her voice speaking 
into his phone.

"Bring the carriage around, Cecile. I put the baby down for his nap."

Darkness enfolded Daniel, and he knew no more.

END