"Oh Jesus...oh God." Char mumbled under her breath as the recognition dawned on her.  She stared at it, at her brother's finger, lying on the table.  She had given him the ring on his twenty-fourth birthday.  She had been so proud that she actually had enough money that year to buy him a gift he would love.  She hadn't ever seen the ring off his finger after she had given it to him.

She started feeling sick to her stomach, the gag she had surpressed earlier was coming on again, stronger and with a promise to perform.  She gingerly, but quickly, picked up the finger and placed it back in the envelope.  With all the speed she could muster without looking suspicious, she threw the money on the table, leaving more change than the cost of her actuall bill, and briskly made her way outside into the dazzling sunshine.  She couldn't stay in that dark and bloody steakhouse for another minute.  Outside, she ran around the corner of the building, her hand leading her along on the coarse brick as she kept her head down.  Once in the alley, she sank to her knees, resting her head against the brick wall and released the entire contents of her stomach onto the pavement.  She heaved and panted and couldn't tell whether her eyes were hot and itchy from the retching or from the tears. 

Someone strolling by, slowed and gazed in at the figure kneeling in the shadows.

"Hey, are you alright?" He yelled.

Char stood up but kept her back to the man and the street, wiping her cheeks clear of vomit and tears.

"Are you alright?" He repeated, louder this time.

"Fine." She was barely audible; her throat was scratchy from the acid but the guy got the idea and kept moving.

Char needed a plan.  She had got the uncontrollable 'panic' reaction out of her system and now she had to be rational.  She found her way to a park and threw herself onto the first empty bench she had seen, hugging the envelope to her chest all the while.

He's not dead, She thought.  They wouldn't send her his finger for nothing; they needed Martin to get what they wanted.  The finger was merely to show her that they were serious.  Very serious.  This thought calmed her a bit.  She needed to figure out where to go from here.  There was no point going to Bud; Martin may be his grandson, but just like Moira and every other person who ended up in a tight spot, he bargained for no one.  Too risky, he said; could end up revealing the whole operation and landing everyone in the slammer or worse.

At the thought of Moira, Char came to a new realization.  They had Moira and Martin.  Whatever these people were pulling, it was complicated and it was big.  Two hostages?  She didn't know where this was heading yet, but she knew she was an integral part of it all.

If Char couldn't go to Bud, then she would have to go to Sammy.  He was the person she trusted most, next to Martin.  She didn't know if Sammy would be willing to keep this a secret from Bud; it would be a risk.  What she did know, was that Sammy would never let some bastards, who thought they had a little bit of power, get away with cutting off his little brother's finger.

Char, a little more confident now that she had at least the beginnings of some sort of plan, made her way back to the jeep.  She gently placed the envelope in the glove compartment, imploring herself to remember to take it out and put it in the freezer when she got to Sammy's place.

The End

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