Yes, yes I can write a novel! Pt. 9

The Just War, Ch. 9

Note: We are now up to the chapter nine 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 cameras were all set up in the lobby at the main entrance of the library, the only place in the library large enough to handle them all. The only place, that is, other than the large conference room where the police were conducting their investigation. The head of the library had been distressed and audibly wished that they would move the entire thing over to City Hall several times. The mayor had seconded that but the intense rain had kept the news hounds rooted to the library. In fact, it was difficult for patrons of the library to leave. Business was suspended for the day, as several of the librarians were being questioned as possible witnesses. The police were keeping civilians out of the library. In the parking lot, a little ways away from the door, a group of teenagers huddled under umbrellas. Barry and Stacey saw them, then checked their phones. Several text messages had come in, and they returned a couple, thanking their friends for the support.

By now some of the national networks had started carrying blurbs about it. In the conference room that had become the sort of command center, they had several computers set up. The library was wired for Wi-Fi. So internet connections were not difficult. CNN.com, Fox.com and NBC.com all carried blurbs about it on their front pages. A dazed Barry Lawless had wandered over to look at them, Stacey by his side, while his parents talked.

“Wow,” Stacey said.

“Yeah,” Barry answered. That was all the conversation they could make at that moment, and it was all that was necessary between them.

Stacey adjusted her glasses and looked over at Officer Johnson. She had known that some distant relative was on the police force in Fishers, but neither she nor her parents had ever felt the need to contact him. This was one heck of a way for them to meet, she thought.

Vic came over to Barry while Jan stood off to the side, collecting herself. “Son, I need to talk to the TV stations,” he said.

“Okay, Dad,” Barry replied.

“The police said it would be best if all of us were in front of the microphones, even if only one of us says anything. Do you think you can do that?”

Barry swallowed hard. He looked over at Stacey, who just looked up at him. Turning back to his father, he asked, “Would it be okay if Stacey was there, too”

Vic looked at Stacey. He knew he had to make the decision, but he wished he didn’t have to be making this decision. He wanted to find the guy who took Jen and beat the crap out of him. He hated having to stay there, though he wanted to comfort his family. “Do you really want to, Stacey?”

“Yes, sir. If that’s okay, that is,” Stacey said. Her gaze was steady but her eyes were moist.

Now it was Vic’s turn to swallow hard. He took a deep breath and said, “It’s okay with me. Come on, we need to go make the statement.” They went to Jan, who nodded that she was ready. As they were leaving the room to go out to the lobby, Detective Smithers said, “Mr. Lawless?”

“Yes, Detective?” Vic answered.

“Please mention her name. Several times.”

“Okay,” Vic answered though he didn’t comprehend why. But he figured that the police knew more about this than he did. Putting his arm around Jan’s shoulder, they lead the way, with Barry and Stacey following. As they ascended the six steps and walked through the doors, down the short hallways with books for sale on a shelf to their left, Vic thought about what he wanted to say, and about what he would say.

The lights and cameras had been set up so that the entrance was behind them. The microphones were on stands facing away from the cameras. Several reporters and camera people were there. Vic had really expected them to start peppering the family with questions the minute they came into view, just like he’d seen in movies and television shows where the news hounds were more concerned with getting the scoop than with the families or how they felt. But to his surprise, although they were talking to each other and to their home stations, nobody bombarded them with queries.

The family stood at the microphones, with the Mayor Fadden and Officer Stevens, the Information Officer for the Fishers Police Department, standing behind them, as well as Officer Johnson and Officer Yoder. Detective Smithers stood off to the side, watching everything. He scanned the reporters, the camera people, the family, the librarians and anybody who was still in the library. The backdrop for the shot was a large glass case that was housing a collection of Bobby Knight memorabilia that month.

As the family moved in front of the microphones, several of the reporters were saying to their producers that they should get ready to go live, the family was coming out. Cameras focused, throats cleared, lights were turned toward the microphones. Vic looked out at the cameras, trying to imagine making eye contact with Mr. and Mrs. Greater Indianapolis Area, people who might have any idea where his daughter was and be willing to tell the police, or anybody. He took a deep breath and looked down at Jan. Jan was looking up at him. He couldn’t read her eyes. This was something that, after eighteen years of marriage, still threw him. There were depths to her that he couldn’t figure. But he could feel in her body that she was gathering strength, readying herself for what was coming. And he gathered strength from her. Looking back at the cameras, he began.

“My name is Victor Lawless, my wife Janet and our son Barry are also here.” His voice started to break, he fought back tears for a moment. “Our daughter Jennifer Lawless was taken from the Fishers Library this morning, just a few hours ago. Jennifer is severely autistic, is prone to self-injuring and is not toilet trained. She takes her nutrition almost exclusively by drinking Pediasure, often from a baby bottle. The only food she really enjoys are Steak ‘n’ Shake Chili Deluxe and Wendy’s French Fries. She is largely non-verbal, although she has learned to use the Touch Chat app on her iPad to communicate. She likes Backyardigans, VeggieTales and the first Gremlins movie. Jennifer is a special girl and I’m appealing to the kidnapper to please bring my daughter back.”

He stood there for what seemed like an eternity. At that moment he thought of all the things he should have said, and wondered if he should have said all the things that he did.

A question came flying from one of the reporters; “Did you get a look at the kidnapper?”

Vic answered, “No, I didn’t get a look at who kidnapped Jennifer. I did see that they were driving a white van.”

Detective Smithers scanned the reporters, scanned the librarians, and looked at the few civilians who were still in the library. Rubberneckers were a hazard, he knew, and it had been unlikely that everyone would leave. He’d once been in Chicago when a friend of his who was on the Chicago Police Force had been called to a terrible accident. One of the news crews that was there had almost committed assault against a teenage kid who kept walking back and forth behind the reporter, even though they had asked him repeatedly to stop. There were four people in the library, two of them were hanging back and two were not. Of the two who were hanging back, one had their smart phone out, taking pictures and audio, probably for their blog. Of the two who were not, one was edging closer and closer to the shot. The other one seemed to just be a little oblivious, but the one who kept getting closer had a look in his eyes. His mouth was straight but his eyes seemed to be dancing, although Smithers couldn’t be one hundred percent sure from such a distance. He looked not much older than a teenager, about five foot five inches, one hundred and thirty pounds. He had brown hair that hung down in front of his eyes, which he kept sweeping back. Phil turned and walked back to the command center and had several of the computers bring up the live feeds. He scanned the background and could see the kid stick his head in from time to time.

He turned to Yoder. “See if anyone knows anything about who that kid is,” he said, pointing to the kid’s head on the screen. “Go out and just see what you can see about him.”

“Okay,” Yoder responded, heading out.

Smithers turned his attention back to the computers. Jan was talking, apparently responding to another question. Her eyes were clear but a little narrowed. “Jen is a special, special girl,” she was saying. “We’re asking whoever has taken her to bring her back quickly, no questions asked. All we want is the safe return of our daughter.”

Barry was behind his parents, holding the girl who was apparently his girlfriend and looking like he was trying not to cry.

The Lawless family was apparently done, now Mayor Fadden was talking to reporters. Smithers went out into the hallway, and saw the Lawless’ walking back towards the command center.

“Thank you, you did a good job,” Smithers said to Vic. He just looked at Jan and nodded. “Now you all should go home.”

“What?” Janet asked. “Why should we go home?”

“Because there is a chance that the kidnappers may call you there. There may already be a message on your phone.” Phil fingered the half-empty pack of cigarettes in his pocket. “We’ll have a couple of officers with you.”

After a few more minutes, the police hustled the Lawless family out the east entrance, around and to the Explorer, which was still pointed in the wrong direction at the entrance to the parking lot. They followed a police car to their house. The sky was dark, the clouds didn’t look like they were moving, and the rain made angry sounds as it splattered against the SUV’s windshield.




copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved

Comments 2 comments

alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

Building tension? Add a foreigner or two as 'red herrings'!


Chris Neal profile image

Chris Neal 4 years ago from Fishers, IN Author

I'm trying to maintain verismilitude (to use a word I was taught in high school English.) Although there are foreigners in Fishers, they tend to be few and far between and the use of one would smack a little of deus ex machina. Let's just see how Detective Smithers does!

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