My mother and father rushed over once I released Chris and sat Daniel down. I saw another car pulling up, a dark sedan, and realized Chris’ parents had arrived. Chris’ mother, Evelyn, flew through the front door and grabbed Chris in a fierce hug.
Peter, Chris’ father, didn’t attempt to hide his tears. He pulled Chris into his arms as soon as Evelyn released him.
I finally took notice of the agents with Chris and Daniel. It was Emily Stratton and her partner. They stood patiently as our little family was reunited. As we all made our way into the living room, she approached Chris.
“I need to ask you a few more questions,” she said.
“Can’t it wait?” Chris asked.
“It would be better if we talked while the event is recent,” Emily answered.
I saw Chris’ jaw clench. “I’d like Liz to be with me,” he said at last.
Emily started to protest but Chris cut her short. “I need her.”
Nodding, Emily motioned me toward her. “Just a minute,” I said, turning to my and Chris’ parents. “We’ll be right back,” I told them.
I took Emily and her partner upstairs. I didn’t want to be overheard. Opening the door to my parents’ master bedroom, I indicated Emily should sit at the small vanity. Her partner elected to stand. Chris and I sat on the bed.
I was surprised at my calmness. No racing pulse, no butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t say the same for Chris. He looked anxious.
“Let’s start at the beginning,” Emily started. “What happened the afternoon you were taken?”
Chris ruffled his hair with his hand, “I wish I knew. The last thing I remember was opening the fridge to start dinner. Everything is a mystery after that. I woke up with a pounding head, tied up and gagged in a little room. I have no idea how I got there.”
“You don’t remember the attack at all?”Emily questioned.
“No, like I said, everything is blank,” Chris replied.
“What about the kidnappers? Can you describe them?” Emily asked.
“I never saw either of their faces,” Chris began. “They always had on black ski masks.”
Emily said, “How many of them were there?”
“Two, a man and a woman,” Chris answered.
“Describe what they wore. Think carefully. Every detail is important.” Emily sat posed to write, her pen perched above a notebook she’d pulled from her pocket.
Chris appeared deep in thought. So far, he was doing well. He sounded a little nervous but I thought that would be expected in any case. After what he’d been through, he’d hardly jump at the chance to relive it all play by play.
“I didn’t notice any labels or specific markings to give away a brand,” he said at last. “They both wore normal looking jeans and T-shirts, all in black. Their shoes were athletic sneakers but it wasn’t a brand I recognized.”
“You don’t remember any symbols on them?” Emily prompted.
Chris thought for a moment. “I’m sorry, I can’t remember anything. They weren’t name brand like Nike or Adidas. That’s all I can tell you. It must have been something pretty generic.”
Emily made a note on her paper. “What about the room? Describe it in detail. Think about noises you may have heard.”
Chris closed his eyes as if to summon up a mental picture. “It was a small room, maybe 10 x 10 at most. There was beat up hardwood on the floor. There was a window but it was boarded up where I couldn’t see out. The walls were old plasterboard and white. I can’t remember any distinct sounds like a train whistle or a highway. It was pretty quiet, like maybe I was out in the middle of nowhere.”
“Do you remember any conversations between the two kidnappers?” Emily asked. “Even if you think it doesn’t matter, it could lend us a clue to their identities.”
“They never spoke to me except to give me food,” Chris replied.
Emily’s voice grew soft, “Did they physically abuse you?”
I wrapped my arm around Chris’ back as I felt a small shudder. “They must have beaten me up pretty badly when they first took me because when I woke up, my head was killing me and I felt sore all over. Later, bruises came up.” He picked at a tiny thread on the comforter of the bed. “They knocked me around nearly the whole time. I guess they wanted to keep me down and hurt so I wouldn’t try to escape.”
“Did they hurt Daniel?” Emily asked.
Chris looked up at her, “No, they didn’t. The man would have, especially when Daniel wouldn’t stop crying but I provoked him to direct the blows at me instead.”
I ran my hand along Chris’ back. He’d kept our son safe at all costs.
“Do you have any idea who the kidnappers may have been?” Emily prompted.
Chris gave her a desperate look, “I wish I did but I don’t. I was no one I recognized.”
Emily pulled a folded paper from her pocket. “I need to ask you about this letter. I understand it may be awkward in front of your wife. I can ask her to leave.”
Chris unfolded the letter and read it. “Was this supposed to be from me?”
Emily nodded, “It was found at your office.”
Chris handed the paper back to her, “I never wrote that.”
“Are you sure?” Emily questioned.
“I’m positive,” Chris answered firmly.
“Do you have any idea how it got in your office?” Emily asked.
Chris shook his head, “No, I don’t.”
“Let’s go back to how you were released,” Emily said. I guessed there had been a brief, initial interview at her words. Maybe that was why Chris wasn’t as nervous as I’d expected he’d be. He’d calm down a little the second time around.
“They led me blindfolded from the room and shoved me into a trunk. I was lifted out and they told me I was free to go but they didn’t remove the gag or blindfold. I had to struggle a long time to get my hands loose. They left Daniel beside me, tied up and gagged as well.” Chris took my hand and held it as he spoke about Daniel.
“Can you tell me anything about the building where you were kept? Think how long it took you to reach the outside. Were there steps?” Emily peered at Chris eagerly.
“I felt like it was a house, and not that big. I didn’t walk up or down any steps except the ones once I was outside. I think there may have been a deck around the house judging by the distance I walked.”
“That’s good,” Emily said. “What about once you were outside? Were there any noises or smells?”
“No, it was pretty quiet. I didn’t smell anything out of the ordinary,” Chris said.
“So not a farm, no smells of manure?” Emily asked.