"Lady, I'm going to kill you," the man said as his hands made for Fiona's neck.
But the alligator teeth, and what looked to be a detached eyeball, slipped down his hands so that both teeth and murderous hands were coming for her throat. Fiona opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out.
But then, just before the man reached her, two security guards and a boy with red hair grabbed the man, teeth and all, and pulled him away.
"Thank you so much," Fiona said when a third and fourth security guard helped her to stand up. "That man should be locked away. He's a danger to society, and if you don't -- Wait a minute! What do you think you're doing?"
The guard was pulling Fiona's hands behind her back and snapping handcuffs on her wrists. "We're holding you for the police, that's what. The man says you're the one that threw the bomb." She could hardly hear him over the cacophony of the people in the airport, running every which way, screaming names of people they couldn't find.
"Bomb?" she shouted. "I threw a bowling ball bag at an alligator that was eating a man's arm."
"Yeah, right," one of the guards said. "We got alligators crawling all over the airports here in Fort Lauderdale. It entertains the tourists to no end."
"But you can ask -- "
"Save it for the police," the second guard said as the two of them pulled her toward the exit door.
"What about my luggage? You have to call my boss in New York. He can -- "
"Ah. New York," the first guard said as though that explained everything.
Before Fiona could say another word, she was pulled along by the men and led to a car marked Airport Security. Just like on TV, the man shielded her head from getting banged on the top of the doorframe as he forcibly helped her inside the car.
Shaking with fatigue, Fiona sat down on the dirty bedspread and looked at the telephone on the cheap, battered bedside cabinet. The beautiful hotel where she was supposed to stay had canceled her reservation when she didn't show up before six. At first she'd politely tried to explain that she'd been in jail for the last six hours, but when she saw the young female clerk back away as though Fiona were a criminal, she tried threatening. This got her nowhere fast, and the manager soon came out and asked her to leave.
So now she was in what had to be the sleaziest motel in all of Florida. It was four a.m. and she had to meet Roy Hudson in two hours.
With her hands protected with a tissue (because who knew what type of person had used this phone last?), she punched the buttons to call Jeremy.
When his sleepy voice answered, Fiona burst into tears.
"Who is this? Is this a prank call? You'd better speak up!" Jeremy loudly demanded while Fiona tried to get herself together.
"It's me," she managed to whisper. "Oh, Jeremy, I've just had -- "
"Fiona, do you know what time it is? I have to get up and go to work in three hours."
"I haven't been to bed at all. Oh, Jeremy, I've been in jail."
That got his attention, and she could imagine his sitting up and reaching for a cigarette. She waited a moment until she heard his lighter click, then heard him inhale.
"All right, I'm listening," he said in his lawyer voice.
Maybe he didn't like a girlfriend calling him before dawn, but a client in trouble was a whole other matter. After about ten minutes of listening to Fiona's semihysterical telling of her outrageous story, Jeremy interrupted.
"They let you go? No charges?"
"What could they charge me with?" Fiona's voice was rising. "I thought I was saving the man's life. Not that it was worth much. Did I tell you that the ungrateful jerk tried to murder me? I ought to sue him."
Copyright © 1999 by Deveraux, Inc. Published with the permission of the publisher, Pocket Books
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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