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Pulpit Love, a short story, part 9
The night of the concert at the church, Karl Hoffner had invited the two sisters into his immaculate living-room and offered drinks.That's where and when the girls started developing a taste for a mixture of vodka and orange juice. In less than an hour, the situation had deteriorated to the point where both girls were happily intoxicated and laying unclothed in Hoffner's bed. They had told him they wanted to learn, and being the director of education, he had been happy to oblige. After that night,there was hardly a week passing by when the two sisters wouldn't stop by their lover's house for a rapid encounter. As they quickly grew addicted to the power of hard liquor, they also acquired a taste for uninhibited, wild sexual behavior. Hoffner flattered himself by thinking he had done to these girls everything a man can possibly do to a woman. And he was smiling reminiscing about it as he drove through Texas on Highway 10. A satisfied look was lighting up his face as flashbacks were running through his mind. He was going to miss those twins for sure, but he had grown tired of the ever too quiet town of Paradise Pines. He was looking forward to his new venture where, without the shadow of a doubt, there would be more young inexperienced women to prey on. as well as unsuspecting people just waiting to be defrauded of their money. Over the past three months, he had carefully prepared for his final departure, purchasing the van under his real name, hiding it in a storage facility south of town, far enough from where he lived. He had withdrawn all the cash, gold and jewels from the several safe deposits boxes open under different names in different banks. And with the eighty something thousand "borrowed" from the church, he was now sitting on a small fortune totaling over three hundred thousand dollars. All in cold hard cash, and stored in a number of bags scattered all over the van. Tomorrow, by his own estimate, he would reach the new place of living he had chosen for himself, half way between Sacramento, California and Lake Tahoe. He would rent an inexpensive small cabin in the mountains. Lake Tahoe would provide many opportunities to prey on gullible people while the coast would be a great place to get away and meet even more new people.
Susan Hacquett had gone home to her little vintage bungalow near the downtown area. While feeding the monstruous overweight and scruffy cat she loved dearly, she thought she had mourned being abandoned by her husband many years ago long enough. So, she decided to go out tonight., inspired by her meeting with Esther Borrowitz, an independant, free spirited young woman. He was also time for her to meet a new man. After all, she had needs, like anyone else, and aren't needs meant to be indulged ? Otherwise, what would be the purpose of them ? So, she looked in her closet , and selected a skirt way too short in regard to her age, a somewhat see through blouse, and her beloved white leather cow-girl boots she hadn't worn in years. She had made the decision to go to the Lone Ranch, a country saloon located at the corner of 26th and Dahlia. A place filled with hunks wearing tight well worn jeans, plaid shirts, Stetson hats and snake leather boots. Cowboys, hold on to your saddle, here comes Horny Sue...
Intuition is mostly a feminine thing ! Men harly ever experience it. And those who do rarely brag about it. As Cynthia Randolph walked into her house, her intuition told her someone else was already there. She could just feel it ! She turned on the light in the large living-room and emitted a plaintive wail as she discovered both her daughters sitting side by side in the Chesterfield leather sofa. That was the final blow to her over abused emotion, and her legs gave up under her. Capella was barely quick enough to grab her under the arms as she was collapsing down to the floor. He helped her to the other sofa facing the Chesterfield and she sat down, very pale and her hands trembling. When he was sure she was all right, Stephen turned towards the girls :
- "Hi, I'm Detective Stephen Capella, from the Paradise Pines Police Department. We've been looking for you girls all over the place since this morning. Do you think that maybe, you could have given your mother a call and provide some explanations. I mean, you can see for yourself how worried she has been". Hattie was the one who answered Capella's question. He quickly looked at Cynthia who had somewhat regained her composure, huge tears of joy now running down her pretty face, as relief had taken over grief in her heart.
- "We're ready when you are, Detective !" There was sarcasm in her voice. No, Capella thought, it's not sarcasm, it's defiance ! He pulled a tiny notebook out of his pocket, in a way he had seen done numerous times in old black and white movies :
- "All right, young lady, shoot !"
The night before had started like any other Wednesday. Marigold and Hattie had attended bible study from 5.30 till 6.30. After that, in a way that had almost become a habit, the two sisters went to Father Hoffner's office, hoping he would be alone, but he wasn't there. After waiting for a good fifteen minutes, Marigold went out to look for him in the now deserted church building. As she was walking past Father Phillip's office, the treasurer, she heard a noise inside. The door was slighly open , so she popped her head through the gap. Inside, down on his knees, Father Hoffner was pulling out stacks of dollar bills out of the open safe and shoving them into a black leather bag. He must have felt a presence behind him and he turned around with a menacing look on his face. When he recognised her, he smiled and put his finger on his lips to signify her to keep quiet.
- "What are you doing?" the girl said, flabbergasted
- "I'm giving myself a raise, sweetie" he said in response. "Don't say anything to anybody about this OK ? Hey, have yourself a raise too" he added as he threw a large stack of money in her direction which landed right by her feet. By this time, Hattie had gone looking for her sister and she joined her just in time to see Hoffner throw the money in the direction of Marigold.
- "What the hell...what's going on here ?". Nobody answered. At that point, Hoffner looked inside the bag and decided he had taken enough cash. He pushed the door of the safe and locked it. Then he got back on his feet, grabbed the heavy bag and threw it over his shoulder.
- "Come on, girls, let's get out of here. Pick up that money, will you ? You'll need it ! You're going away to college soon, aren't you ? So, this is your college party fund". Hattie bent over and picked up the money, not too sure about what to do with it. "Since you're here,Hoffner said, I need your help"
They left the church building shortly after and all got into Hoffner's black Chrysler 300. He started driving and headed South of town on US 1 until they reached a storage facility in front of which Hoffner stopped the car. He swiped a card into an electronic reader and the heavy iron gate slowly slid open. Once they reached his storage unit, he opened the overhead door and pulled out the van. He left the engine running while all three of them transfered a number of bags and suitcases from the trunk of the Chrysler into the back of the van.
- "We're going to my house. Hattie, you drive my car and Marigold, you come with me". As they reached Hoffner's neighborhood, , he parked the van in a quiet street a couple of block away from his house. Marigold and him got into the back seat of the Chrysler, and Hattie drove up his driveway and turned the ignition off.
- "Let's have a drink to celebrate !" Later, once the girls were tipsy, he told them he wanted to spend the whole night with them, but not at his house. They jumped with excitement at the idea. So, they all got back in the Chrysler and Hoffner drove to the Blue Heron Motel. He gave the front desk attendant a fake name and booked a room for two nights, asking not to be disturbed and requesting that no housekeeping be done before departure time the second day. The sleepy clerk had nodded in agreement. Later that night, the celebration went on as Hoffner introduced the girls to smoking pot. Of course there was more drinking, and he passed around pills that he had nicknamed "miracle pills". It was a night of absolute debauchery, but everyone seemed to enjoy it. By the wee hours of the morning, the sisters had passed out and Hoffner discreetly walked out of the room, went home to switch vehicles and drove away to get on Highway 95, with the clear intention to never return...
- "So, Capella said, if I unserstand well, he never forced you to do anything against your will?" Both sisters shook their head negatively. He asked again : "Is it fair to assume that he never raped either one of you ?" Hattie answered, with again that defiant look in her eye Capella couldn't help but notice ;
" He never did anything to us that we didn't agree to, he never forced us either " she said adamantly, her sister nodding in agreement.
Cynthia was looking at her daughters in total disbelief. She had raised her two girls by herself for the past ten years and until this very minute, she had been so proud of herself about how well she had managed. But now, she was looking at her two children, and they had become total strangers to her. She had to realize and admit she didn't know the first thing about them...
To be continued...
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.
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