As Trish dragged me further away from my hiding place, I realized I had my greatest liability around my neck. Like the Tin Man had a ticking heart on a chain, I had Bethel in the pet carrier bag.
I didn’t know what Bob had in mind for me, but I was willing to bet my last can of Spam that it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Torture, slave labor, execution…any of that stuff would be made worse if someone took my dog away from me, or hurt her. I would have to die then and there, if anything happened to Bethel. I’d have to breathe so quickly and violently that I smothered on pit pollution. I’d have to swallow air until my stomach exploded. I’d have to grind my teeth until my jaw flew to pieces, then I’d have to use the bone slivers to stab myself in the temple. You get the idea.
I felt like I was going to vomit on Trish’s heels when things looked up, a tiny bit. Well, things looked up when I looked down. I saw Moira’s sheet-white face peeking out at me from underneath a platform ahead of us. I reached to my hip and undid the dog clip that attached the shoulder strap to the pet carrier. I let the strap slip from around my neck and I dropped the bag as Trish pulled me past the platform. I didn’t want to be obvious about it, but I nearly turned my head around on my shoulders, trying to see if Moira got the bag before someone else snatched it off the ground. When I saw the strap disappearing under the platform I burst into bawling, toddler tears. If anybody had told me a week ago that I’d give away my dog and cry tears of pure joy over it, I would have told them they were crazy.
“Don’t cry,” Trish shouted over her shoulder at me. Trish looked genuinely upset that I was crying. “This isn’t anything personal. This is business. You have been a friend to me, and I’m not enjoying this. OK? Please try to not make this harder for me.”
The heat of sudden anger dried up my tears. “Harder for YOU? Trish, I’m the one who is being arrested. I don’t know what for, and you can’t tell me. There isn’t really any law, right now, so I don’t think that I’m going to get a lawyer and be proven innocent.”
“Bob will be fair,” Trish promised.
“Fairness would be telling me what I’ve been arrested for,” I spouted. “Fairness would be reading me my rights. Fairness would be arresting me for SOMETHING instead of NOTHING, which is what I’ve done. Nothing, Trish.”
Trish slowed down, but not because my arguments were making her uncertain. She slowed down because we were close to our destination. The Pit Police were stationed, naturally, near the Burning Pit. They had a tin shed with a Mickey Mouse silhouette painted on every side.
I thought Trish was going to take me inside, but she saluted the guy stationed at the front door with a rifle and she kept pulling me along. I had no idea where we could be going if we weren’t going to what was obviously Pit Police Headquarters.
I’ll admit that I was surprised to see quite a few Port-a-johns stretching ahead of me in two rows, doors facing each other. Port-a-johns weren’t a common sight in Manhattan. You’d think you’d see them in parks or at outdoor events, but you rarely did. They were mainly reserved for construction workers’ use on job sites, and they were padlocked shut unless a worker was making use of them.
I was even more surprised when Trish opened the door of one of the Port-a-johns and tossed me inside like a bad puppy. She unlocked her own handcuff so quickly that I didn’t see her do it, and she slapped the open end of the handcuff onto a bar inside of the Port-a-john, which transferred me from being Trish’s prisoner to being the toilet’s prisoner. She slammed the Port-a-john door and strode off.
I stood in the dark Port-a-john, listening to Trish’s footsteps receding in the distance. I didn’t know what else to do then, so I peed. After all, it was Manhattan and I was outdoors. I didn’t know when I’d see another toilet.