Copyright© 2010 by Michael Wolfam
They reached the gates of Three Crosses twenty minutes later. Liv followed Dr. Huntington's Cadillac the entire way. She could see Finn slump further and further into the passenger seat as Dr. Huntington lectured him.
She felt bad for Finn, but was glad to be in a separate car. She had gotten more than her fair share of Dr. Huntington's lectures. After her dad's disappearance, she had taken to smoking a lot of weed. Dr. Huntington had helped her go clean and find new hobbies, like Krav Maga, a form of street fighting developed by the Israelis.
"I'm glad I didn't have to go to rehab," she said to herself as the two cars pulled up to the guard shack. "This place gives me the creeps." After Dr. Huntington flashed his badge to the on-duty guard, the imposing metal gates swung open. They drove along a recently plowed, gravel road until they reached the main entrance. Liv parked and met up with the two men, inside the rehab center.
"Hey, does Mitch still live here?" she casually asked the front desk clerk as Dr. Huntington disappeared to gather admittance paperwork from his office. "He used to be good friends with my dad," she explained.
"Yeah, his living quarters and office are in the East Wing." The attendant pointed toward a hallway. "He's not here right now. He rushed out a few minutes ago. It was weird. He was talking to some bald guy about a fire."
"Weird," Liv responded, trying to remain nonchalant.
"Hey, they're gonna check me into rehab, unless we do something quick," Finn whispered urgently as he pulled her toward a secluded corner. "You owe me, by the way. I get to drive the Starfire anytime I want. Even if I just want to get the mail."
"Fine," Liv whispered. "Just so you know, I really appreciate it." She gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Now, let's go find my godfather's living quarters before they figure out something's up." Mentally, Liv prepared herself by placing her hand on the comforting bulge of the Steyr that was tucked in the small of her back.
"We, uh, have to meet Dr. Huntington in his office," Liv turned and said to the receptionist.
"Whatever," the bored attendant replied, turning her attention to a gossip magazine, which featured more than one of the rehab center's current residents.
Liv and Finn dashed off in the direction of Dr. Huntington's office. Along the way, they found a sign indicating the direction of the East Wing. It was two in the morning, and the halls were empty. They soon reached the thick, gold plated doors leading to Mitch's personal quarters. Liv used her lock pick set to make short work of the lock. Silently, they slipped through the door; an uneasy feeling grew in the pits of their stomachs. The walls were covered in green marble. Only a few lights illuminated the hallway and its plush red carpet. Each door had a nameplate next to it. Next to the room marked Jacuzzi, was one labeled Mitch Conroe, Director.
"Think you can pick this lock?" Finn asked.
"Yeah, no problem. Hope there's no alarm system."
"You were quite the delinquent in high school, weren't you? Drugs, guns, and lock picking," Finn whispered.
"You like it," she replied with a smile, as she knocked the last tumbler in place and the latch turned. They snuck into Mitch's office and shut the door behind them. Liv pulled out a flashlight and started exploring.
"Holy crap, this place is huge!" exclaimed Finn. My parents' house isn't as big as this office!" In one corner of the room was a fully furnished workout center and a wet bar. Several plush couches faced a gigantic, flatscreen television that hung above a stone fireplace. Along the walls were trophy heads from exotic animals, African masks and various paintings of the outdoors. However, the most imposing feature was the hulking, wooden desk that was framed by poster-sized images of Mitch shaking hands with politicians and movie stars.
"Bastard's got an ego, that's for sure!" Liv commented as she looked at the poster of him shaking hands with the President. She noticed a large sheet of paper on the desk. "Wonder what he was working on before he was so rudely interrupted by our fire?"
"Probably making cookies for the PTA bake sale." Finn plopped himself down in the comfortable, executive chair behind the desk. "Wow, look at this! It's a map of the mountains and some of the mines are labeled. And there's a sticky note with tomorrow's-" He paused and looked at the illuminated clock on the desk." Today's date on this one."
"That's Three Crosses Mine ... the one where Mitch hit the mother lode!" exclaimed Liv. "I heard they take patients up there to let them dig. Supposed to be good therapy, but I think it's all tapped out. Wonder what Mitch has been doing up there?"
"Only one way to find out." Finn grinned mischievously.