We climbed into Chris’ truck, Chris cradling Daniel in his lap. I started the truck and headed for the main road. “I hate to have to do this but I’m going to have to drop you off a little way from civilization.”
Chris didn’t ask why. From the look on his face, I guessed he was recalling how I dumped two bodies into the lake.
“I want you to say the kidnappers dropped you both off there, blindfolded, and gagged. You worked your way free and then started to walk to try to find help. You never saw the kidnappers’ faces.” I negotiated a sharp curve then continued, “Tell the police you don’t remember anything about being abducted. You just remember waking up in the room captured with your head throbbing.”
I expected him to argue with me and say he couldn’t keep all the lies straight and surely the police would see right through him. He’d never been a meek person before, always quick to point out when he disagreed with my reasoning.
He didn’t say a word of protest but just nodded back at me. He wasn’t a good liar and he probably would stumble over what I’d asked him to tell. I hoped the police would excuse any inconsistencies due to the ordeal he’d been through. The bruises and marks told their own story.
“Remember, don’t volunteer any information except it was a man and a woman. You’d have to know that so it will look suspicious if you get caught lying there. Lie by omission.” Before he and Daniel had been taken, I’d never been a good liar, either. Now, the words flowed from my mouth as easily as water in a stream, no shaking voice or nervous gestures to betray me. I didn’t like what I’d become. Or was this part of you always there? I clamped down on the steering wheel and forced myself to focus on the road.
When I reached a deserted stretch of highway, I scanned my GPS. There was a gas station a half a mile away. I pulled off the side of the road. I didn’t want to leave them there after what they’d been through but I could see no other choice unless I wanted to tell exactly what I’d done. I told Chris about the gas station. “Call the police and then call our home number. There won’t be anyone there, of course, but it will look odd if you don’t.”
I looked hard at him, “You know I don’t want to do this.”
“I know,” he said, but when he left the truck I could have sworn he almost looked relieved. When I reached an intersection that connected to the interstate I got on the ramp. I drove fifty miles out of my way to take a new route home.
I hated to waste the time but thought it might lead credence to an alibi if I was questioned in the future. The fatal shots had been with Casey’s gun, not mine. Even so, I had weighted all the firearms down except the CZ 75 and tossed them into the lake. Two hours into driving, I stopped for gas and filled up on my one remaining card that had credit available.
I was near to collapse when I finally parked the truck in our driveway. I was opening the door when I saw my mother’s small SUV coming down the road. She leapt from the vehicle and rushed to my side. “Thank God you’re here,” she said, “I was coming over to check on the house,” she added, explaining her presence. “They’ve found Daniel and Chris and they’re okay!” Tears were rushing down her cheeks.
I hugged her tight. I didn’t have to fake tears. They filled my eyes at the sight of her. I felt more like my old self standing in my driveway. I was a wife and a mother-a businesswoman. I still wasn’t sure what had happened to me out there in the middle of nowhere on the edge of that lake but at the moment I didn’t care. I wanted to go back to the way things had been before my family had been kidnapped.
My mother finally pulled away, “They’ll be driving them home as soon as they can.” She looked at me, noting my exhaustion and still damp, crumpled clothes. “What happened to you?”
I laughed-a hysterical laugh of exhaustion and pent up emotions. My mother looked frightened. “I’m okay,” I assured her. “I washed my clothes in the sink and laid them over the shower pole to dry in my motel room. I got antsy and wanted to come home and they’re still damp.” The lie came out smoothly.
“Come over to my house and we’ll get you something to eat and I’ll wash them properly. I told the police to bring Chris and Daniel there first since I didn’t know you were coming back.” Her face lit up as if she suddenly remembered something, “You were right about the pills. They didn’t match what was in the bottles. I can’t pronounce what they actually are but I looked the names up and they can cause confusion and hallucinations.”
She grasped my hand in hers, “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you. I was just trying to help-I hope you realize that.”
I pulled her into my arms and hugged her, “I know, Mom. I know.” Her words gave me some relief. I had been under the effect of drugs. The hallucinations weren’t caused by mental illness. But you haven’t taken any of that stuff in days. You can’t blame what happened at the lake on that. The voice pierced through my mind.
“Not now,” I said.
My mother stared at me, “What did you say, honey?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “Let’s go.”
I shrugged into my mom’s fluffy, white, terry robe as I peeled off the still damp clothes. I exhaled as my finger encountered a small piece of tissue. I should have burnt them and bought new clothes. I’d been in too big of a hurry to get home.
I took the robe off and hung it on the back of the bathroom door. I turned the water on and took the clothes inside the tub. I squirted some soap on them and wrung them out.
My stomach turned over as the water turned light pink-apparently I hadn’t washed all the blood out of my clothes with the garden hose. I kept wringing the fabric until my hands were sore. I finally tossed the lot into the bathroom sink and stood under the spray of the shower.
“Are you okay in there?” I heard my mother’s voice through the door.
I realized I’d stayed in the bathroom way too long. “I’m fine-the shower just feels good,” I yelled back.
I quickly turned the water off and dried myself, throwing on the robe again. I opened the door, “Are they here yet?”
“Rita just called that she heard something on the scanner. They should be here any minute.” Her eyes glowed with happiness. She handed me a bundle of clothes. “I drove back over to your house to pick you up some fresh things to wear.”
“Thanks, Mom,” I said and gave her another little hug. I closed the door again and swiftly got dressed. I was walking down the stairs when I saw the car pull up. Chris came through the door holding Daniel.
“Mama!” Daniel called out. He’d somehow stayed asleep during the entire rescue. I guessed he’d suffered from exhaustion and lack of food. He really was seeing me for the first time since he’d been taken.
I ran to Chris and took Daniel from his arms. I held his sweet little body close to mine as the tears ran over my cheeks. I swept my arm around Chris and pulled him close. I didn’t miss his wince of pain.