Thursday, July 14, 2011
It must have been almost 3:00 a.m. I had to guess. The clock in my truck has been stuck at 11:27 for 17 years. Moira slept with her mouth open, sprawled across the bench seat next to me. I was always amazed at how easily she slept when we drove.
I had been given a brief outline of what Walters expected before they let me leave. Rogers kept smirking as his boss droned in a monotone. Someday I was going to shove that smarmy rookie bastard’s teeth down his throat. And that would be just the beginning of what I'd do to him.
I shifted in my seat as I turned onto Route 28. I hurt in places I didn't know I had. The pain went beyond fibromyalgia to plain old feeling like crap.
I left the radio off and replayed the conversation Walters had "at" me.
“You're going to go to Portland, Maine, to find these people.” He shoved photos across his table to me. “When you locate them, you'll relieve them of certain possessions.”
“Why me?” I asked.
He ignored my question and kept speaking. “You will bring those possessions back here. If you fail to do it, we will have a bigger problem than a missing daughter.”
“Why me?” I can be monotonous, too.
He kept on. “Rogers here will give you the specifics on where these people will be found, and when and where to deliver.”
“Why me … asshole.”
He just sneered at me. “I don't think you're in any position to question anything I say, Mister.”
He thought wrong.
“Why me, MISTER asshole?”
Walters jumped up and started across the table, but caught himself. He straightened, buttoned his suit coat, and paced with his back to me for a moment.
He watched his silenced TV monitors for a deliberate while. Then in a very composed manner, he spoke. “You have a background that lends itself to our needs. That is all you need know – that and the fact that, even though we're giving your retarded brat back to you tonight, we can get to her anytime we want. We are done now.”
Walters left the room. Rogers approached and sat on the corner of the table, leering as he gave me travel specifics, more photos, and details. I listened with only a portion of my mind. Most of my attention lingered on what Walters had said -- and had not said.
What did he mean, "You have a background that lends itself to our needs"?
My mind returned to the present as a floodlit work crew patched a section of the highway. Traffic cones and flashing signs slowed driving to a crawl as we edged past on the shoulder. One mile of traffic cones for a hundred feet of repair. Never did understand why. Must be some senator’s girlfriend owned a traffic cone company. Ten guys standing by the water cooler while two pretend to be working. Wonder what these people get paid to do highway work at 3:00 in the morning? Another shovel-ready project added to our already un-payable national tab.
Then I thought back on the photos I now had in a manila envelope. Women in burqas? At least I thought they were women. Why in Sam Hill am I supposed to "relieve" burqa-creatures of "possessions"?
The interchange to Route 50 came up and I turned my blinker on. Don't know why I bothered. It hadn't worked for some time, either.
The trailer court turn came right after I pulled onto Route 50. I had to cross three lanes to turn left, but at this time of morning who cared? Our trailer was on the left as I pulled the old truck in and parked. I sat for a moment and listened to the engine tick.
Whatever I need to get, I told myself, whomever I have to get it from, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that a trip to Maine buys me time to get Moira away to someplace where the likes of Walters and Rogers can never put their filthy, groping hands on her.
I got out, went around to the passenger side, and pulled Moira’s dishrag-asleep body out. I adjusted her weight with my knee and started to our trailer – then halted. Moira didn't even stir. Her soft breath made a slight fog in the cold air. I looked down at her, then turned and walked with her in my arms to a different trailer.
I walked up the wooden steps and softly kicked my boot against the door by way of knocking. Waiting a moment and started to boot-knock again, I heard a deep woof, saw a light at the end of the trailer. Then a porch light flashed on.
Deb’s face peered for a second around the door, then she flung it open and grabbed Moira from my arms. She nestled Moira beneath her chin, her hair falling over my daughter's face.
Tonka rushed out. I braced for a too-enthusiastic greeting, but he ignored me and ran to do his business on some poor tree. Stupid dog. I looked back at Deb embracing Moira and was amazed that Moira slept through it all. Deb glanced over Moira’s head at me and I noticed she smiled through tears flowing down her cheeks.
“Deb, I need your help. We need your help.”
“Anything Jake, anything.”
Posted by Jake at 7:57 AM