Authors: Rayven T. Hill
Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense
The camera panned to show a shot of two men coming down the courthouse steps. One looked greasy, slimy. Maybe a lawyer. Krunk continued.
“I’ve just been informed Farley has been released on $200,000.00 bail.”
The shot zoomed in on one of the faces. A microphone could be seen pushed at him. That must be Farley.
“Mr. Farley, do you have any comment?”
Farley scowled as his lawyer hustled him away. The cameraman followed them until they stepped into a waiting car, and the car drove away. The camera panned back to Krunk.
“We will bring you breaking news as it happens. In an exclusive report, I’m Lisa Krunk, live for Channel 7 Action News.”
Jeremy watched the newscast with great interest. He dropped his fork and sat back, frowning.
Reaching over to a small table beside him, he retrieved a pencil, and scratched something down on a scrap of paper, ripped from a gardening magazine. He folded the paper carefully, thoughtfully, shoved it into his shirt pocket, and went back to his meal.
Saturday, August 13th, 10:30 AM
ANNIE dropped the bag of kitchen garbage into the bin on the back deck. She turned her head and wrinkled her nose at the smell greeting her. She quickly closed the lid.
As she stepped back through the door, into the kitchen, her cell phone, resting in the wicker basket, began to buzz.
It was her mother. “Hello, Mom,” Annie said.
“Hello darling. I just wanted to see how things are there. Andy has gone off somewhere this morning. A special delivery he had to make or something.”
“We’re great here, Mom. I’m just cleaning up a bit. Jake and Matty are in the garage doing whatever it is they do out there.”
Alma Roderick cleared her throat. “You know that little matter we talked about. I have a check here for you. I can drop it over this morning if you’d like.”
“Mother! I certainly never agreed to accept any money from you. I told you, we don’t need it. We’re doing fine here.”
“Yes, but you know Matty deserves better.”
“Matty is doing great where he is.” Annie sighed. “Please Mom. Really . . . we’re fine.”
“I want my grandson to get the best education possible.”
“He may be your grandson, but he’s my son,” she said, and then added, “Jake’s and mine.”
“Listen to me, Annie. Your father and I have more money than we need. It’s only fair we use a bit of it and send Matty to Richmond Academy. I insist.”
“Mother! Why can’t you accept we don’t want, or need, your money? Jake is offended, and frankly, I am too.”
Alma laughed. “Don’t be silly, dear. There’s nothing to be offended about.”
“Jake feels you look at him as not being a good provider.” She raised her voice and added, “Well let me tell you something mother! Jake is the best father Matty could ever hope for. And the best husband.”
“Calm down dear. I’m not threatening his manhood.”
“Oh, but you are. Every time you think you know better than him, you’re threatening him.”
Alma laughed again, and then said sharply, “I’m only trying to help. Your father agrees with me.”
Annie suspected her father didn’t know anything about this. Her mother was always trying to butt in to their affairs. “Mother, I have things to do. I have to go.”
“Just keep it in mind dear. Maybe talk to Jake about it.”
“I don’t need to talk to Jake. Goodbye Mother.”
Annie stabbed at the phone, hanging up. She tossed it back into the basket, and shook her head in exasperation.
Saturday, August 13th, 11:00 AM
LISA KRUNK unclicked her seatbelt and climbed from the passenger seat of the van. She looked at the sprawling mansion in front of her, and hurried determinably toward its double front doors.
She glanced back over her shoulder. Her cameraman, who’d been driving the vehicle, had just removed his equipment from the side door, and was resting the camera on his shoulder. She frowned at him, and waved for him to hurry up.
“Let’s go, Don. Come on,” she said impatiently.
He hurried to follow her. He knew better than to keep her waiting.
Lisa stopped for a minute and looked at the house in front of her. This was big news. An affluent family, in an affluent neighborhood. Her thin lips tightened in resolve. For a moment, she dreamed about that Pulitzer she felt destined to receive some day. This story was a stepping-stone in the right direction. The biggest news this crappy little town had seen in a long, long, time.
She raised her head. Her thin sharp nose sniffed, and she strode on.
Don was close behind her as she reached the final step leading to the entrance of the house. She approached the door and clanged the knocker once, twice, three times, checked her microphone, and waited.
The door swung open. A young Asian girl poked her head out. “May I help you?”
“I would like to see Amelia James,” Lisa demanded.
“May I ask who’s calling, please?”
Lisa frowned. “It’s Lisa Krunk, from Channel 7. I would like to ask her a few questions.”
“Please wait here. I’ll see if she’s available.”
Lisa waited, tapping her foot impatiently.
It seemed to be taking forever. Who’d these people think they were?
The door opened again. “I’m sorry, but Mrs. James says she has no comment at this time.”
The door began to close.
Lisa stuck her foot in the doorway. The door stopped. The girl looked out.
“Just a couple of questions, please,” Lisa said. “It’ll only take a minute.” Her voice was a little kinder now.
“I’m sorry. She said no.”
Lisa stared furiously, and removed her foot, allowing the door to snap shut. She stood there a moment, feeling indignant, determined.
She wheeled around swiftly and spoke to Don, “Come on. This way.”
She raced down the steps and across the lawn to the corner of the house.
Don shook his head. He realized what she was planning, but obediently followed her.
There was a wooden gate at the edge of the house, separating the front from the back. Lisa peered through a crack in the gate. She could see a flagstone path leading toward the back yard, and the rear of the house.
She tested the gate. It was unlatched. After glancing back to make sure her cameraman was still behind her, she pushed the gate. It swung inward, and tapped lightly as it came to rest against the wall.
She walked boldly toward the rear of the dwelling. Don followed.
Without breaking stride, she rounded the back corner of the house, continuing along the walkway that swung around, and then widened, running across the back of the building.
Her wide mouth tightened into a triumphant smile as she saw her prey a dozen yards ahead. Mrs. James was bent over the flowerbed, snipping some flowers.
Lisa strode ahead, her microphone in front, ready. Don moved slightly to the left, his camera beginning to whir.
Mrs. James looked up quickly. Her mouth flew open and she rose to her feet, hands on her hips. Frowning now.
Lisa was undaunted. “Mrs. James,” she said, as she took the last step and stopped, pushing the microphone at her. “I would like to ask you a couple of questions, if I may?”
“I already told you I had no comment.”
“Please, Mrs. James, your daughter is missing, and our viewers are greatly concerned. We want to help,” Lisa lied.
Amelia hesitated. She dropped her hands and folded them in front of her, and then raised her head and took a deep breath as the frown disappeared.
“Perhaps a couple of questions would be ok,” she said reluctantly.
The camera whirred.
Lisa reached inside herself, looking for some kind words to say. It was difficult, but she knew she could fake it as good as anybody.
“Mrs. James,” she said. “We all sympathize with you at this difficult moment. You can be sure the thoughts and prayers of our concerned viewers are with you and Jenny right now.”
“Thank you,” Amelia said quietly.
“Your daughter has been missing for ten days. Do you have anything you’d like to say to her abductor if he’s watching?”
Amelia looked down a moment, and then lifted her head and said, “My daughter, Jenny, is the sweetest person I know. Please, allow her to go. She’s never hurt anyone, and please, please, I need her, and so do her friends.”
Lisa loved this. Heart wrenching stuff was always good. She kept the microphone pointed, and waited for more.
Amelia continued, “If for some reason you can’t let her go right now, then please, let me or the police know she’s ok.” She was crying lightly now. A tear reached her chin.
Lisa looked at the tear. Good stuff. Great television.
Don knew Lisa would want him to zoom in now. He did.
Amelia hesitated, so Lisa spoke. “As you know, the man she was last seen with has been found dead. Are you afraid the same fate has happened to Jenny?” Lisa hoped that wasn’t too cold.
Amelia dropped her head a moment, and then looked up and said fiercely, “My daughter is alive.” She paused, and then continued in a calmer tone, “She called two days ago to say she’s ok, and then, got cut off.”
Lisa didn’t know that, and was caught off guard a moment. “Did she say where she was?”
“No, she didn’t seem to know.”
“Mrs. James, did you know Chad Bronson?”
“No, I’ve never met him.”
“Yet, your daughter seemed to know him well?”
Amelia folded her arms. “She met him through a mutual friend,” she said indignantly. “She didn’t know him that long, and I don’t go around keeping tabs on everyone she meets.”
“Of course not, Mrs. James. I only meant . . .”
“Please don’t insinuate my daughter hides things from me,” Amelia said sternly. “She certainly does not.”
“I’m sure she doesn’t, Mrs. James,” Lisa said reluctantly, and then asked, “I also understand Lincoln Investigations has been retained to aid in the search for Jenny.”
Amelia hesitated. “Yes, they have been.”
“Do you feel then, the police are not doing all they can do, or should be done?”
“The police are doing everything possible. They’ve been very good, and very supportive.”
“What then, is the role of the Lincolns?”
Amelia seemed bewildered by the question. “Just a little extra help. That never hurts,” she answered, and then continued, “I’m sure you’re aware, Annie Lincoln is the one who found Bronson?” she asked.
“Yes, I’m aware of that, but . . .”
Amelia interrupted, “Please, I have things to do now. The interview is over.”
“Just one more question, Mrs. James. Do the police have any suspects?”
“Not that I’m aware of. Now, I must go.”
“Thank you, Mrs. James.”
Amelia turned and walked toward the house.
“Mrs. James,” Lisa called.
Amelia didn’t respond. She walked up the steps to the back deck and inside the house, out of sight.
Don pointed the camera at Krunk.
“We will bring you breaking news as it happens. In an exclusive report, I’m Lisa Krunk, live for Channel 7 Action News.”
Don shut the camera off, and lowered it.
Lisa sighed, “Well, that was worth it, anyway.”
Don nodded and followed Lisa back across the lawn, heading for the news van.
Saturday, August 13th, 1:00 PM
JAKE backed his Firebird from the driveway. The wheels left a little rubber behind as he hit first gear and touched the gas. The car jumped ahead and he sped down Carver Street, hit his blinker and took a quick left, and then another quick left onto Main Street.
There wasn’t a lot of traffic today. It’s never too bad on a Saturday. The lights seemed to be against him, as they all turned red at the wrong time, as if some technician sat in his little cubicle, flicking switches, just to annoy him.
The sun was straight up, blazing hot even with the windows open. It glanced off the hood of his machine, throwing a bright glare, threatening to blind him.
He squinted through dark glasses, checked his mirror, and pulled into the right lane. He had to wait behind a bus while passengers got on and off, like snails, before he could move ahead and make a sharp turn into the parking lot in front of Mortinos.
The store seemed to be busy today. The parking lot was full. He zipped up and down the aisles looking for a slot, and finally opted to sit and wait until somebody decided to move.
He watched a young couple come strolling from the store. They lazily pushed their cart ahead of them, chatting and laughing, and finally made it to their vehicle near him. Jake waited mostly patiently while the pair of snails took their time unloading their purchases, and returning the cart to the snake at the front of the store.
Finally, the spot was available, and Jake eased in, careful to keep a safe distance from the other vehicles. He felt a little uneasy about leaving his baby where a careless driver could open their door and mar a beautiful paint job. But he did. There wasn’t much choice.
Jake could see a flood of shoppers, making their way haphazardly back and forth, up and down the aisles, picking out their needs, and wants, for the week ahead.
He dodged an old lady pushing a walker, the basket on the front stuffed with groceries, as he wormed his way toward the back of the store.
Jake knew the manager at Mortinos a little bit. Didn’t like him too much though, but he was the one to talk to.
The door to MacKay’s office was open a bit and Jake poked his head in. Empty.
He wandered up and down the aisles, and finally happened on MacKay who was reaming out a cringing stock-boy. Jake waited patiently until the lecture was over and the boy slunk meekly away, and then approached MacKay.
“Good afternoon, Mr. MacKay.” He offered his hand.
“Afternoon, Mr. Lincoln.” MacKay stared at him through thick glasses as he shook his hand.