Ivy Street

Fiction By Timothy // 12/29/2005

“Ivy Street. It’s on Ivy Street.” Katrin Lewis repeated these words over and over to herself as she navigated through downtown Philadelphia. “Ivy Street.” The words made her shiver every time she thought of them. The name implied a quiet, pretty street, probably in the upper class part of town. Yet Katrin knew that Ivy Street was probably a dark an secluded alley lined with abandoned warehouses in the ghetto of Philadelphia. It was exactly the kind of street they would send her too.

She thought about them often. She didn’t know who they were, but they practically controlled her life. It had all started about a year and a half before, when she had met Nelson. She hadn’t known it then, but Nelson was an escaped convict and an active drug dealer. But slowly she had learned the truth and soon she knew too much for him to let her roam free. It was eight months since the night he had kidnaped her. She was only 18 then. He had taken her to a friend’s house and kept her under lock and key for over a month. Eventually Nelson realized she cost more than she was worth, so he decided to put her to use. From then on, she was constantly running errands for the Philadelphia drug dealers. They let her rent an apartment and buy her own car because they knew and she knew that if she ever tried to escape back home or get the police, they could send a hit man after her. That fear kept her working for them.

Less than two months before, Nelson had died. He was killed in a shootout between some rival gangs, caught in the crossfire as he was delivering drugs. Katrin hoped that her virtual imprisonment was over, but it wasn’t. She started receiving anonymous calls directing her to deliver messages to random points, on pain of death. Sometimes she got phone calls, and sometimes they were letters. This time it had been a letter.

The letter had stated “Meet contact in warehouse #6 on Ivy Street at 12:30 a.m. Follow his instructions.” It didn’t say much, but Katrin was used to that.

As she drove she looked down at her clock. It said 12:01. She once again consulted the map that had been included with the letter. She should arrive in about twenty minutes. With a yawn, Katrin remembered how late it was. She had never gotten used to the late hours that accompanied her “job”. At home, she often went to bed at 10:00.

Home. The word sent a thousand memories into Katrin’s mind. Mostly, she thought of her family. She thought of her two younger brothers, but she especially thought of her parents and what kind and Godly Christians they were. They took their Christianity seriously. They had their problems, like everybody else, but they were always accompanied by an unreal kind of peace, and a wholehearted trust in God. Eventually, their faith had rubbed off on Katrin. She remembered with a smile the night when her father and mother had knelt with her and helped her pray for salvation. If only she could see her parents now. But that was impossible. It was too much of a danger, for them and her. It seemed like she might never see them again. Oh, how she longed . . .

Suddenly, Katrin was snapped out of her dreams. Ivy Street was just ahead. Emotionally bracing herself, Katrin turned onto the street. She had never liked these meetings, but they were unavoidable. Warehouse #6 was easily located, and Katrin eased her car next to the curb. Slowly, she got out and approached a side door. Turning the knob, she found it unlocked. She stepped inside. The darkness was overwhelming. Old crates were piled up everywhere, covered in dust. Cobwebs laced from corner to corner. Katrin kicked herself for not bringing a flashlight as she felt her way around. The door was left open to let in what little light there was. Sitting down on a crate, Katrin waited for the contact that was supposed to be there. Her watch said 12:25.

Slowly, the time ticked by. Katrin absent mindedly examined the warehouse. It was mostly empty, except for the crates piled near the door. Mice skittered by frequently. With a touch of amusement Katrin thought about girls that were terrified by mice. She had seen too much in the ghettos of Philadelphia to let some little mice scare her. There were bigger things to worry about, like the contact she was supposed to be meeting. Katrin wondered what this contact would ask her to do. Hopefully it wasn’t something that needed to be done immediately. It was already late enough. Looking down at her watch, she saw with some surprise that it said 12:45. The time had ticked by quicker than she had imagined. Where was the contact? He was supposed to have arrived at 12:30.

With a tinge of impatience, Katrin dug her cell phone out of her pocket, and noticed with annoyance that it had been off the whole time. Maybe she had missed a call from her “boss” that would explain the delay. Checking, she saw that she had missed multiple calls over the last hour, all from the same number. They must have been from him.

Hesitantly, Katrin dialed the number. After three rings, a gruff voice answered. “Who is this?”

“This is Katrin. You called me earlier but I missed it.”

“Oh, there you are! I’ve been trying to get you for the past hour! Well, I hope you have a fast car, because you need to be at the Wallace Street parking garage in 5 minutes. There’s a package for you to pick up. You’d better get moving, wherever you are.”

“But I thought I was supposed to be at Ivy Street.”

“Nonsense! Now step on it and get to Wallace Street in 5 minutes!” With a click the line went dead.

Katrin couldn’t understand. The letter she had received clearly said to go to Ivy Street. Yet this man said to go to Wallace Street. Suddenly it occurred to her. The letter was a police trap. It had to be. Somehow, the cops had learned that she was working for drug dealers, and they were arranging a sting. They might be closing in right now, preparing to arrest her and throw her in jail for drug running. Terrified, Katrin jumped to her feet. She had to get out, now.

Running to the door, Katrin suddenly froze in her tracks. A large figure was silhouetted in the doorway. The figure switched on a flashlight. The light blinded Katrin, and she stumbled backwards in fright. Frantically, she searched for a place to run as the figure approached. Then suddenly, a calm voice echoed through the warehouse, “It’s all right, Katrin. Haven’t you run long enough, now?” Katrin stared in disbelief. It was her father’s voice.

Slowly the light was turned on the man holding it. The face was easy to recognize. Father, Katrin thought. So it was him who had sent her the letter. Fearfully, she backed up. What would happen if the drug dealers heard about this? The thought was too terrible to imagine. Surely it would mean death for her and possibly her father, too. She thought of fleeing. She started to run . . . but she couldn’t do it. It was too much. Suddenly, a wave of relief swept over her. “Father!” she cried, and she fell into his arms.

“Katrin. Katrin. I’ve finally found you. Oh, thank you Lord. Thank you!”

Katrin could only sob into her father’s shoulder. All of her memories came back in a flood. Her two younger brothers, the family gathered around for devotions at night, her mother’s calm love, and her joyous childhood all washed over her. She suddenly realized just how lonely she had been, just how much she had longed for home. As she broke down in absolute joy, her fear of the hit man was washed away. She didn’t care. She wouldn’t run any more. She would die with her family if she had to, but she wouldn’t run. Home was where she needed to be, and home was where she would go.

Slowly, Mr. Lewis pulled Katrin off his shoulder. He held her at arm’s length and looked at her. Hid wordless smile said all that Katrin needed to hear. Then Mr. Lewis slowly brought Katrin to his side and started walking towards the door. With another smile, he said the most beautiful words Katrin had ever heard.

“Katrin, let’s go home.”

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