Note: We are now up to the seventh installment in a novel that I’m writing as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1-30. The rules are: write it! Don’t edit, don’t obsess, don’t chart out notes. Don’t worry about spelling, syntax, grammar or continuity. You can go back and fix those things later, but the most important thing to writing the novel is to get it written! It works out to 1,667 words per day. If you do more, great! If you do less, don’t worry! Just keep plugging! And hopefully my first draft, with all spelling errors and continuity holes intact, will inspire you that you can do it too!
The knock on the door sounded insistent, steady and rhythmic, fast and a little frantic. For just a moment, Janet Lawless had visions in her head of Berserkers beating the drums before they danced themselves into a frenzy and ran out, slaughtering every living thing in their path. Naked, blue-painted savages out to conquer the world by killing it. An unsafe world about to beat her door down. Janet believed in feelings and premonitions, she’d had them ever since she was a little girl. She’d had no bad feelings that day until just before the knock, when a picture of Jen in a van, scared and helpless, flashed through her mind. Then a picture of Vic, running and running and running but not able to catch up with what he was chasing.
She opened the door to see two police officers standing on the front porch. Their black Dodge Charger had flashing lights. The doors of many of the neighbor’s houses were open, people peering out to see what was going on, teenagers running out into their front yards to catch a glimpse of the excitement.
“Good morning,” the officer said. He was tall, powerfully built, looked middle-aged like Vic and her. Something was etched on his face though, worry or fear. “Are you Janet Lawless?”
“Yes, what’s going on?” Jan was suddenly panic-stricken and fighting to keep herself calm.
“Yes, ma’am. May we come in? I’m officer Johnson and this is Officer Stone.” The officer didn’t really wait for her to answer, he started into the house and she moved back to let them.
As they came in they didn’t say anything but they wore their worry and other emotions like overcoats. The sky outside was dark and growing darker. It had already started raining. Jan had been clearing away the dishes, and although she was wearing a sweater and her favorite sweat pants, she had felt cold. She needed to turn up the heat and turn on more lights. The darkness of the sky seemed to follow the two policemen in as they walked into her well-lit living room, looking around. Jan was not scared, Jan was terrified.
Johnson turned to Jan. He was blond and tanned, but his face had seen many years of life, more than his birth certificate bore testament to. His curly hair was short, he had a mustache, which Jan would remember later seemed unusual. She had only ever seen one other cop with a mustache. She took in everything quickly, their dark sweaters, their radios attached at the shoulder to the walkie-talkies on their belts, their boots and the automatic pistols holstered and buttoned by their sides. Stoner had a notepad with him. Younger than Johnson, darker haired and fair-skinned, his eyes were brown where Johnson’s were blue. Johnson was more practiced at this, kept his composure better Jan could tell. Stoner radiated concern, almost like a light bulb. She took all of this in in an instant, as fast as she saw them she saw all of this. She searched Officer Johnson’s eyes for something, anything she could grab on to but couldn’t find anything.
“Mrs. Lawless,” Johnson started, “there’s been some trouble at the library.”
Jan was fighting the terror back, trying to breath evenly. “What, what happened?” she managed to stammer out. “What’s going on?”
Johnson turned to Stoner, at a loss of how to say it. Stoner could only shrug helplessly, his face saying that he wished he were somewhere else. Turning back to Jan, he froze for just a second, swallowed, then said, “Your daughter was taken.”
The next thing Jan could remember was sitting on their couch, screaming uncontrollably. The two policemen were standing over her, trying to calm her down. Her fist was up in her mouth, trying to stifle her anguish, push her panic down inside her and lock it away. Grabbing a pillow, she thrust her face into it and surrendered to the darkness, the hollowness and emptiness that engulfed her. Wailing like a little child, shrieking like a lost soul.
It might have been minutes or it might have been hours, Jan really couldn’t remember. She pulled herself together slowly, then looked up at the two men in uniform. They looked like they wanted to help her but didn’t know how. She tried to ask them to hand her her purse but couldn’t get the words out. Instead she pointed into the kitchen. Stoner went in, then after a few minutes brought out her purse. With a quizzical look, he handed it to Jan. She fished out her phone. She tried to dial Vic’s number but found herself unable to remember it. Slowly she was remembered that she could look at the log and find his number. She pushed the button to have the phone automatically dial it.
The sound of the ringing in her ears, then she heard Vic’s voice on the other end. “Jan?”
“Vic!” Jan started screaming, “Vic, what’s going on? The police are here and they’re saying Jen’s been taken! Tell me what’s going on Vic!” It all came streaming out, but she was not feeling lost. She was getting angry, and concentrating on her missing child.
Vic didn’t know what to say, Jan could tell. She waited a moment for him to say something, but saying nothing wasn’t an option. Still, she could hear him freeze for a moment. “Yeah, Jan. She’s been taken.”
“Oh my God!” came bursting out of her mouth. “Vic, what are you doing? Are the police going after her? Where are you?”
“I’m talking to the police right now. We’re at the library, in one of the meeting rooms.” His voice was calm and even, he was trying to make things seem okay. Normally she would have appreciated this, looked to him to do it, but now it just added fuel to the fire.
“Where’s Jen?” she yelled.
“I don’t know.” He sounded lost.
“How could you do this, Vic? How could you let her go?”
This last part was said in anger and despair, and she knew that it would cut him like a knife right though his heart. She meant it to, she wanted him to hurt. He’d let her daughter go, the daughter she’d fought so hard to forge a relationship with. The one she’d had to bang on the outside of her wall every day. He’d let someone take her.
“Jan? Jan, the detective here said that an officer will bring you,” Vic said. “I’ll tell you everything when you get here. Right now, I need to talk to the police.”
“Vic you tell me what happened!”
“I will, Jan, but when you get here. I need to tell the police everything now to try to help them.” He was trying not to get too loud, but the adrenaline still pumping through his system had him hyped up.
“Vic!” she shouted, then she hung up.
“Mrs. Lawless?” Johnson gently touched her shoulder.
“Ma’am, if you come with us we can take you to the library.” Stoner was nodding.
“Jan?” came the voice of their neighbor Sue. Jan realized that the front door hadn’t been closed.
“Jan, are you okay?”
“Sue, no. I’m not okay.”
Sue came into the living room hesitantly, not sure of whether she should be there but wanting to help her friend. Sue, a petite brunette, ran over to Jan and the two hugged each other fiercely. “Jan, what’s going on?”
“Sue, Jen’s been taken!”
“My God, Jan! You’re not serious!”
“I wish I was, Sue. The officers here are taking me to the library.”
Sue looked confused. “The library? She was taken from the library?”
“Yeah. Sue, I’m sorry but I have to go. Could you lock up for me?” Jan was looking for her coat and feeling colder than ever. At Officer Johnson’s suggestion, she found an 8×10 picture of Jen, one of the school pictures. She followed the officers out and got in the back of the Charger. People were standing out on their lawns, watching everything with concern. Teens were bunched in groups on a couple of yards. Some of them were smiling and laughing. Part of Jan knew this was just teenaged boys being teenaged boys, that they didn’t now what was going on and had no life experience, so they imagined that something really cool was going on. But most of her wanted to scream at the little jerks to shut up and go back in their houses, didn’t they know her daughter had been taken?
Numbly, she watched as the car pulled out of her driveway. Sue was coming out of the house, slamming the door. This told Jan that she had locked the latch and was making sure the door was closed. She watched as the car went through her neighborhood to 116th Street. Jan had always been more detail oriented than Vic. In the beginning he had driven her crazy on a continuous basis because of all the little things he just wouldn’t do right, or consistently. It was why she had risen to a higher relative position in her company than he had in his. She sometimes thought he lacked the drive to be the president of a company. She had been on track to possibly become president of hers. But that was behind them as he made good money, good enough to allow her to stay home and take care of Jen, which was all she really wanted to do.
The car passed the intersection of Allisonville and 116th. The siren was blaring and the lights flashing, so even though the light was against them everyone got out of the way. Looking to her right she saw the liquor store where Vic bought his Marsala wine for the times when he wanted to cook some Italian. They passed Hague road. They passed the CVS Pharmacy, and Taylor’s bakery, where Vic thought he was getting away with buying donut holes for the kids. Turning left off 116th, Officer Stoner said, “Nuts.”
“Yeah, I guess it was gonna happen,” Johnson said.
As they turned to the right to go around the road to the library, they had to pass by vans from Channel 8 and Fox59. The police were keeping them away from the crime scene, not letting them get too close. She realized that this was exactly the kind of situation that would have her glued to her set or computer, but it was different when it was happening to you. The Charger passed the BMV, then pulled through the exit of the library parking lot. She saw the Explorer still sitting in the entrance, facing the wrong direction. They pulled around to the front door, and Officer Johnson led Jan through the front door and into the meeting area, down the steps and into the large meeting room.
“Mom!” Barry yelled, running over to her. Stacey was there too, but looked unsure of whether she should come over or not. Jan wasn’t sure herself, but she grabbed Barry and let him sob into her shoulder. She stroked his hair and told him it would be alright, even though she felt no such confidence. Then Vic came over and put his arms around them both. Jan just stared out the window, looking at the dark, dark skies and listening to the rain thrash against the windows.
copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved