The ring of the queen (t.., p.31
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       The Ring of the Queen (The Lost Tsar Trilogy Book 1), p.31

           Terri Dixon

  Part XXIX

  I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.

  -Rosa Parks


  For the next half hour, Boris made calls. He asked all of his closest friends and family to go to the police station and wait outside. He had no trouble convincing anyone to go out at night in the freezing cold during a snowstorm for him. I thought he must be a hell of a nice guy, or criminal of some kind. I wasn’t sure which, but as long as he could get people to come out and watch my scene, I didn’t care. He made at least a dozen calls, and from the sounds of it, everyone he called did the same.

  “In about twenty minutes there should be at least 100 people at the police station to watch the show,” Boris said. “Now what?”

  I’d been thinking about that. “I need to know when the next train is coming through here,” I said.

  Boris looked at his watch. “If you can pull off whatever you have in mind before midnight, you could make an express train. If not, the next train is at 11:00 a.m.”

  The time was 8:30 p.m. Three and a half hours was a lot of time, and I wasn’t sure how long a Mexican standoff in Russia would take. I wasn’t sure how long any kind of a standoff anywhere was supposed to take. I’d never done anything like it before. I’d never had to. If I could get back home, I would never have to do anything like it again.

  Home was half a world away. It seemed further than that. I may as well have been on Mars. I may as well have been on Mars and having a nightmare. This whole mess was just that; a nightmare. I wished that I could wake up and have it all go away. I wished that I could suddenly snap out of it and find out that it was all a terrible dream and that I was just sleeping off jet lag in my dorm room. If wishes were horses, I would have a stable full. My grandma used to say that.

  “Okay, so midnight it is,” I said. “I guess we should get going.”

  “What are we going to do?” Peter asked. “You can’t just walk into the police station and tell them to let Tania and Steve go.”

  “Why not?”

  “They won’t listen to you,” he said. “Have you forgotten that it’s you they’re after?”

  “Of course not,” I snapped at him. “You people would never let me forget that. I’ll have Alzheimer’s someday, and I’ll still remember that. I'm a Tsarina, I'm an empress, I'm a queen; and it's all because of some stupid ring. How could I ever forget that?”

  “I’m sorry,” Peter apologized. “I wish I could make it all stop, but we both know that it's about more than a ring. It's in your blood, and that's what Yuri Kostov cannot ignore. I know this is getting to you. ”

  “You think?” I asked. “I come here to study Tsars and find out that I am one. I get chased around the country by some paranoid president that until a few days ago I thought was a little nuts. My friends are in jail. Your grandmother is nuts. It’s all on my shoulders. You aren’t much help. I don’t even know where I am now, and it’s always dark here. Have I left anything out?”

  “No, but I think you need to calm down,” Peter snapped back at me.

  “I don’t need to calm down,” I told him. “There’s one thing that you need to understand. Calming down is a bad thing. If I calm down, I won’t have the guts to do anything about this. Anger gives me strength. Anger gives me courage. Anger makes me take action. Anger is a good thing in my case. So, don’t tell me to calm down or you’ll have an even bigger mess on your hands. Let’s go.” I turned and walked toward the parking lot.

  “So what are you going to do?” Peter asked.

  “Why are you going that way?” Boris asked. “That’s the parking lot. The police station is across the road and down the street.”

  Peter didn’t move. I stopped and turned to face them both. “Well, are you coming?” There was no answer. “Come on, both of you. I need witnesses.” I motioned to them to come with me. “Let’s go!” I yelled.

  They both jogged to catch up with me, without question. Boris left the desk unattended. I don’t think he knew whether to keep listening to Tish or to listen to me, but he seemed to be more interested in what was going to happen at the police station than he was in his job.

  “You’re not going to get my grandmother’s Hummer are you?” Peter asked as we walked.

  “Yes,” I said, not turning to look at him as I spoke.

  “What do you intend to do with it?” he asked.

  “I’m going to drive it right up the front steps of the police station and demand that they let my friends loose.”

  “She’s definitely a royal,” Boris commented. "No one else is that crazy."

  I shook my head and kept walking. We got to the Hummer. I pulled down the step and climbed into the beast. I could tell that Boris had seen the car before. He’d probably been in the hotel at some time when Tish had driven up in it. The giant Humvee was memorable. The two men waited while I climbed in before going to the passenger side to climb up in.

  Once everyone was finally in the Humvee, I started the engine. Peter was sitting next to me and Boris was sitting in the back. I’d never driven anything quite like a monster truck before. I didn’t care. I’d driven about ten different kinds of four wheel drive trucks, tractors and combines. How hard could it be?

  “Are you sure you can handle this thing?” Peter asked.

  “Sure, why not?” I replied.

  “Well, for one thing, you can’t drive this thing up the steps of the police station,” he said.

  He was beginning to annoy me. “Why not?” I asked.

  “Because the police station doesn’t have steps,” Boris said from the back seat.

  I giggled. I was starting to enjoy this operation. Either that or I had completely lost my mind somewhere along the way. “Well, that’s probably going to suck for them then,” I announced.

  “Why?” Peter asked.

  “Because that means I’ll have to run over something else.”

  I was too angry to feel as intimidated by the monster Hummer as I should have. I figured that if Tish could drive it, then so could I. When I attempted to put it in gear the first time, I wondered if I hadn’t overestimated my driving skills. The gear shift had been extended, to make it long and imposing in between the front seats of the car. I felt more like I was driving a train than an off road vehicle. I almost didn’t get the stick to move at first, but once I realized that there was no way to ease the thing and started slamming it, I was on my way. The initial jolts and jumps made Peter and Boris very nervous. Peter was holding onto the handle over his door. I didn’t bother to look and see what Boris was doing in the back.

  I found that the steering wasn’t difficult, so I took off out of the parking lot, around the buildings and headed down the opposite street to the police station. I so wanted to run something over with that Hummer. I mean, who wouldn’t want to? It was a monster Hummer.

  I saw the police station come up in front of me quickly. Boris had been right. It wasn’t far. I saw a large crowd of people gathered in the front of the building. I saw a couple of news trucks there too. That had probably been Tish's doing. She had respected me enough to do a something to help. I wish I’d known what she’d told them when she’d called them. I hoped that she hadn’t decided to go ahead and let the authorities arrest me. I had quickly figured out that Tish was unpredictable.

  As I came closer to the police station, I noticed that the people whom Boris had called, and everyone that they’d called were standing all around the area. It was the largest crowd I’d seen at something besides a professional football game in my life. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to hurt any of my witnesses. I pulled up directly behind the police cars that were parked in front of the building and stopped in the middle of the snow covered street.

  Peter let go of the handle over his door. “What now?” he asked.

bsp; I smiled. I’d spotted the two way radio in the dash of the Hummer. I’d grown up in farmland. Farmers loved their CB radios. Cell phones were the way of the future. CB radios were the way of the Indiana farmer. Peter probably had no idea how the thing worked being into high tech, but if I was right, every CB had a PA system too. All I had to do was switch it on. If it was as I thought it would be, the PA system on a Hummer would kick ass.

  I picked up the mike. I saw the button that said “PA” on it. First, I honked the horn on the Hummer. It nearly deafened the crowd in front of me. I could tell by the way they were covering their ears. Cool. That baby was loud. In my unrest, this part was feeling a little bit like fun. It was about time I had fun on my vacation.

  Peter slumped down in the seat. Boris did too. I waited for someone in a uniform to come out of the police station. I sat. I waited. I honked the horn again. I deafened the rest of the crowd that time. Cool.

  Finally, someone in a police uniform came out the front door of the building. I depressed the button on the mike. “I’m the one you’re looking for. You need to let my friends go,” I announced in a voice that reached for miles. I could tell that everyone heard me out on the street in front of me. A lot of them were covering their ears again.

  Everyone seemed a little surprised that I could speak Russian. I don’t know why. That one had puzzled me since I got there. Why would I not speak Russian? I was in Russia. And since I couldn’t seem to leave that cold dark country, I felt it was a damn good thing that I could speak the language.

  The police officer motioned to me to get out of the Hummer. I thought he’d lost his mind. I hadn’t planned anything, but I was sure that I hadn’t planned on getting out of the car. Now I had to figure out what I was going to do. I hoped that someday I would have time to make a plan before heading out for an activity.

  “No,” I said on the PA.

  Another cop came out of the building. He had a bullhorn. At last, someone who realized that I wasn’t coming inside with them. He handed it to the first cop. “You must park the vehicle and come inside, so we can resolve the situation,” he said.

  “I can’t do that,” I replied on the mike.

  “Why not?” asked the bullhorn.

  “Because, I’m certain that you have orders to arrest me,” I said.

  “Why would you think that?” the bullhorn asked.

  “Because according to the television, I’m a wanted criminal,” I answered.

  “Why are you?” the bullhorn asked.

  “I’m Catherine Zerbst,” I announced. “I’m the one that they say is trying to impersonate a Romanov.”

  The Ring of the Queen

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