Trespasser (Part XXV)

For the next two days, each of the men began working on their carefully laid plans. Vacation time was put in, tools and materials were gathered, and a room where they could conduct their grim business was being prepared.  Very little was said between any of them during this time, for what had needed to be said had come out over the poker table.

There was a different kind of storm coming to Bryer Street, one in which the clouds would rain crimson.

John and his brother were the most active.  While Rob helped in gathering what they would need, it was the brothers, father and uncle of the victim, who were the most invested in the plan.

John slaved for the comforts of his family.  Over the last few years, his job had come before his personal life, so that the bills were always paid and food was always on the table.  It was something that he loathed, but it was also something that had to be done.  As a result, he found himself often at the breaking point.

Donnie had recently returned from a tour overseas.  As a soldier, he had seen things that most people could only imagine, and even then, only in their worst nightmares.  Like his brother, he suffered from the years of duty, but, in a more personal way.  He fought evil on a day to day basis, fueled by his emotions of grief and repulsion, so that the world could be a little bit better place to live.

And while the things he had done haunted him, he actively sought ways to come back from the nightmares that had chased him home.  Had a former resident of their community still been around, he would have been able to appreciate the ways Donnie used his time. When not with friends and family, he was an active instructor and mentor at the local halfway house for displaced children.

As they finished putting in the last nail to their project, John grabbed his cell and called the number to third member of their group, a man who had something just as personal at stake in all of this.

“Hello,” came the answer of his raspy voice.

“It’s ready,” John said flatly.  “How are things on your end?”

“The missus is packing up to go to her mother’s,” he said quietly.  “Though she’s none too happy about it.”

“We’ll work that out after…”  John’s voice lingered for a moment before the other cut in.

“No, I understand.  I’m not worried ’bout her now.  She’s been mad at me before.  How’s Rob doing with his part?”

John glanced over to his brother, who had similarly called the final member of their group.  Donnie caught his inquisitive glance, smiled, and gave the thumbs up.

“Everything’s going as planned.”

The silence broke on the other end, as the other suddenly broke into a fit of coughing, all through which John patiently waited.

“Are you sure you’re good to go Davie,” he asked with concern.

“I’m good, John.  I mean, I’m hurtin’, but I’m good enough for what’s to come.”

Trespasser (Part XXIV)

Many hours had passed since having heard his daughter’s story.  The clouds had blown in from the north, carried by the bitter winds that had preceded it, and now blanketed the sky.  What little remained of the light dwindled as the coming storm choked out its life, making way for the inevitable darkness to come.

John sat quietly in his den, but he was not alone.  There were three other men in the room, all listening as he recounted the morning’s events, all looking at the grim evidence that backed his story. Where there was normally a chip dispenser, which they used for their monthly card games, was a soiled pair of girl’s panties.

In any other circumstance, there might have been excitement in the air.  They may have had a bead of sweat on the tops of their brows, and many possible scenarios would have already been dreamt of, or spoken about.  Any other time, there would have been the sharing of sexual tales, of conquests real and imagined, and nervous laughter would have filled the air.

This wasn’t like any other time.

The mood in the room was somber, the air; thick with tension.  The panties weren’t of the kind belonging to a grown woman.  They weren’t one of the many styles of lingerie used to ‘raise’ the interest of a potential lover, either.  These were nothing more than the simple cotton underwear that might come in packs of three to five, of which no man was ever meant to see.

They belonged to his daughter.

“Y-you’re sure about this,” a nervous Rob Hammond cautiously asked.  “There’s no way she could have accidentally…”

John shook his head back and forth, angrily, pounding a clenched fist on the table to interrupt his friend’s line of thinking.

“She wouldn’t lie to me, Rob,” he growled through clenched teeth.

One of the other men in the room, who had been pacing back and forth in thought until up to this moment, stopped behind John and put a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“Easy buddy,” the new voice said from behind him.  “It’s not that we don’t believe you, the evidence is plain to see!  I think that Rob, like the rest of us, wants to be sure on this before we do anything.”

“Donnie, if you had been there…”

John choked as his emotions reached a boiling point.  He was furious, but, when he began to recall the look on her face, he was hurt beyond comprehension.  Grief struck him as acutely as if her life had been taken from her, rather than just her innocence.

Donnie, John’s older brother and the only person who didn’t live on Bryer Street, leaned forward and embraced his sibling, wrapping one arm around his chest and placing his left cheek against his brother’s right.  Rob stood, quietly, and walked around the table to place a supporting hand over his friend’s.

The remaining person in the room, and the only one who had yet to say anything, slowly leaned forward until the light revealed his haggard face.

“Whatever you want to do, John,” he said slowly for emphasis, “we’ll stand behind you one hundred percent.”

Trespasser (Part XIV)

The drive home was agonizing.  Not only did his thoughts torture him the entire way, but so too did his aching muscles.  The only comfort was the low rumble of the engine in his 1984 Ford pickup.  The horses thundered when he pressed down on the pedal, but at a steady speed, like the one he was cruising at now, it sounded as a stampede would from a mile away.

From time to time, his eyes would begin growing heavy, but he would catch himself with a quick jerk of the head.  It was a small movement, violent, and its only intention was to shake the sleep from his bones, but it wasn’t going to work for much longer.  As he rolled down the window for a little fresh air, he replayed the short conversation with Davie in his head.

“It’s about Vanessa.  Even now, she’s…”

She’s, what?  Getting into some sort of trouble?  That wasn’t very likely, but then again, he hadn’t been around much, as of late.  With the extra shifts he’s had to cover, there have been times when days would pass before he had a chance to sit down and relax with his family.

He tried to imagine the mischief that she could be getting herself into, but nothing even came close to believable in his eyes.  Could she be stealing?  Not very likely.  She spent most of her time lost in her own imagination, and material objects were only as precious as she made them out to be.  She still played with that unfinished figurine of hers!

Just that thought alone ruled out any destructive behaviour.  Most times, she didn’t move from one spot for hours, so it wasn’t very likely that she was tearing the neighborhood up. She was loud, at the very most, and that wasn’t very often.  There were times when he’d be working outside and he’d have to stop just to make sure she was still there.

“Ugh,” he moaned wearily.  While he was almost home, three o’clock was just around the corner.  Six came even sooner.  But before he could lay down, he had a promise to keep.  Davie was waiting up, with whatever important information that he thought he needed to know, and if anything, he was a man of his word.

As he fought to stifle off another yawn, he tightened his knuckles around the wheel in determination.  Only twenty more minutes stood between him and the answers to his questions.  Hopefully, only a half an hour stood between him and his bed.