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Yes, yes I can write a novel! Pt. 18

Updated on November 19, 2012

The Just War, Ch. 18

Note: This is the eighteenth chapter in my novel The Just War that I'm writing for NaNoWriMo. The object is to create a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. I'm pretty much still on track, and if I can do it, you should be able to as well! Don't edit, just write!

The phone rang and everybody stood with their mouths agape. Everybody except for Janet Lawless, who let forth with a stream of obscenity that would have caused everyone’s jaws to drop if they weren’t already opened wide. It stunned everybody else, even Detective Smithers, to the point that the phone rang several times before Vic picked it up. He held it in that big paw of his, looking helpless while Jan continued to find new ways to curse the kidnapper, his mother, the police and her husband. Finally Detective Smithers motioned to the Silers and Sue stepped forward, her sweater slightly droopy, and took Jan by the shoulder and maneuvered her into the kitchen. She let herself be maneuvered, but only because she didn’t want to be the cause of any problems with the kidnapper.

She saw her husband look at Smithers, who motioned for him to answer the phone but hold it out a bit so people could hear what was being said. Vic flipped the phone open and said, “Hello?” He said it just like a scared little kid.

“What’s wrong with this kid?” the voice came out in a torrent. The electronic masking device couldn’t hide the banging and screaming in the background. Everyone knew exactly what was happening but Jan felt helpless and enraged. Smithers tapped Vic on the shoulder, saying, “Talk to him.”

“She’s severely autistic,” Vic said into the phone.

“So what? What does that mean?”

“In her case it means that she needs to take Risperidone every twelve hours or she starts getting upset and banging on things,” Vic said, pronouncing the drug’s name without the middle ‘i.’ Jan’s mind filled with images of what men do to women, things that no man could ever fully appreciate.

“Risperidone? What is that?” the voice asked, injecting a couple extra words.

“It’s an atypical antipsychotic medicine that helps…” Vic started.

“No mumbo-jumbo! I need to know how I can get some!” the voice exploded. Even with the electronic interference, the sense of helplessness and frustration could be plainly heard on the phone. Vic looked over at the kitchen and saw Jan standing there, a look of horror on her face. She could only think about her baby and what that monster was planning, what he was probably doing, what men always did when they decided that women were too annoying.

“You can’t get it, it’s a prescription medicine,” Vic said. His voice was a little panicky.

The voice exploded in a stream of words that equaled Jan’s earlier outburst in vehemence if not in length. Listening from the kitchen, Jan wanted to reach through the phone and throttle the little creep. Finally it said, “Listen, you better get me some real quick or I’m not responsible for what happens to this kid!”

Vic looked at Jan but she had made her face impassive and inscrutable. He looked at Smithers, then Tommy, then Bob and Sue, and finally at Barry. Everything was happening so quickly that he seemed to be having trouble thinking, but finally he said, “Listen! It’ll be okay! I’ll bring you some!”

The voice spat out a word, and then said, “You can’t come to me!”

Smithers’ face was impassive except for his eyes. He was registering everything. He was trying to make sense of it all. Jan looked at him.

“I can bring it somewhere else then, you just tell me where!” Vic was almost yelling into the phone. Although it was a little chilly in the house, he was sweating profusely.

“I don’t know! Let me think about it!” the voice yelled, and then the line went dead.

Everybody stood as if their shoes had been nailed to the floor. Nobody dared to breathe. Suddenly the phone rang again. Vic pushed the button and said, “Yes?”

“Mr. Lawless,” the voice came out of the phone.”

“Yes?” Vic replied nervously.

“Put this miracle drug in a paper bag…”


“Then drive it down behind the Marsh at 96th Street and Lantern Road. Just put it back there. Come by yourself, don’t bring anybody else in you Explorer and don’t…” There was a very dramatic pause, before the smarmy voice began again. “Don’t under any circumstances let the cops come along or spy on it. I’ll be watching.”

Vic looked over at Smithers, who nodded. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll get it there as quick as I can.”

“You’ve got ten minutes.”

“But it takes longer than that just to get there from my house!” Vic yelled, sounding like a trapped animal.

“Not much,” the voice responded, “so if you hurry you shouldn’t have any trouble. Oh, and Mr. Lawless?” the voice came out, as smooth and silky as a voice that was electronically altered could be.

“Yeah?” Vic responded, breathing heavy and looking like he was about ready to crack.

“I’m watching,” the voice said, and then the line went dead.

“Go!” Smithers yelled, pointing at the phone. Vic ran past Jan into the kitchen, grabbed Jen’s little brown bottle of Risperidone and a plastic syringe and stuffed them in a paper lunch bag he got out of the pantry, and then ran out the door to the Explorer. Jan went over to the window and watched Vic back out of the driveway so fast he bumped the Charger that was parked on the street in front of his house. She heard the sound as Vic stepped on the gas and peeled out. Smithers was on his phone and Johnson on his radio, they were both making sure the way was clear. They all stood around listening to Johnson’s radio, as the SUV left the neighborhood, then when it got to the intersection of 116th and Allisonville, then when it got down to Willow View Road.

Jan became aware that Detective Smithers had been quietly talking on his phone to somebody. “Yeah,” he said, “that’s what I think. Thanks, Captain, I’ll check in later.”

“What’s going on?” she asked.

Smithers looked at her for a moment; the look on his face was difficult to read. “We think there may be more than one of them.


“The first time he called, he was panicky, his words were short and sharp and even with the distortion you could tell he was feeling like he was in trouble. The second time he was in control, smooth and taunting. That sort of change doesn’t happen immediately unless they weren’t the same guy.” Then he opened up his phone again and dialed.

“Who are you calling?” Jan asked.

“Your husband,” Smithers answered. There was a short wait, and then Smithers said, “Mr. Lawless, this is Detective Smithers. You don’t have much time, but be careful and try to watch for any vehicles that might be them.” Jan could hear Vic’s voice yelling on the other end, and then the line went dead. “He said he was getting another call.

Smithers walked over to Johnson, who was listening on his radio. The policemen in the cruisers who were clearing the way for Vic to get to the Marsh were chattering with each other. Smithers looked a little concerned.

“What’s going on?” Jan inquired.

“He should be down to 96th Street by now.”

Jan blurted, “Well where is he?” But she didn’t call Vic ‘he’.

Johnson said into the radio, “Coulter, can you see him?”

A voice on Johnson’s radio responded, “Yes, he’s just sitting in the middle of the road.”

Johnson and Smithers looked at each other. Smithers tried to call Vic, but couldn’t get him. “It’s busy,” he said, closing his phone. “He must be talking to the kidnappers.” Jan looked at the two men, saying nothing. She took a drink of her coffee, which was getting cold. She clutched her sweater more tightly around her and knew deep in her heart that Vic was doing something stupid.

“He’s on the move,” Officer Coulter’s voice came over the radio. They waited, and then heard, “He’s not moving very fast. Wait! He’s turning back toward Allisonville!”

Tommy Bowen and Bob Siler had come over. The four men standing there looked at Jan, but she didn’t say or do anything.

“What do you mean, back toward Allisonville?” Smithers asked.

“I mean he turned right instead of left. He’s not going very quickly, either. Barely the speed limit.”

Jan looked out the window. Funny, how clearly she could see the rain even though it was night time and overcast. She could hear the rain pounding against the house. She could hear a lot of things.

No one talked for a long time. At least it seemed like a long time. She thought about Jen, about her poor daughter in the hands of men. She walked back to the Keurig machine and made another cup of coffee.

Johnson’s radio came to life again. “Detective Smithers?”

Everybody seemed to breathe for the first time. Phil answered, “Yeah? Smithers here.”

“Officer Rogers, sir. I think I found Mr. Lawless.”

“Where are you? Where is he?”

“He’s on the side of the road. He looks pretty beat up. We’re down here at 106th and Allisonville. His vehicle’s off the side of the road, almost like it got run off.”

“Okay, good work. Get him back here,” Smithers ordered.

“Yes sir,” Officer Rogers responded. Sue Siler had wandered over and they were all gathered around.

“Do you think he needs to go to the hospital?” Sue asked.

“I don’t know yet, ma’am. Rogers will let us know that,” Johnson answered.

Jan had gone back to looking out the window. She knew everyone was looking at her, she knew they all wanted to say something to her, and that they wanted her to say something to them. But she didn’t, she couldn’t. She didn’t dare, because all the feelings of love and worry and anger and fear and rage and despair were hanging so close to the surface that if she let them out even a little, they would come flooding out. She was worried about Vic, she was angry at Vic, she was afraid for her daughter. She looked over at Barry, who had been sitting in a corner with Stacey. They seemed a little more, she couldn’t find the word but they didn’t seem as out of control as everybody else. Okay, Smithers wasn’t out of control but nobody else seemed to have a clue, not Vic not Tommy not Bob and Sue and not her. And she hated it.

The cell phone rang. Wordlessly, she walked over and picked it up. She pressed the button, and a voice said, “Mrs. Lawless?”

Barely holding back her anger, Jan choked out the single word, “Yes?”

“Hello, Mrs. Lawless,” the voice said.

“What do you want?” Barry asked from the corner.

“Your husband has been a naughty boy,” the voice continued. It had the exaggerated smoothness of a little boy who has got a secret that he’s about to reveal, one that he knows will hurt somebody and he’s taking a great, sadistic pleasure in revealing it. “He threatened me. He said that if I did anything to his daughter, that he would do it three times over to me.”

Sue’s hand went over her mouth. Tommy just stared at the phone. Barry was over there, and Stacey too, and they were clutching each other. Bob seemed not to comprehend what was going on. Smithers and Johnson just looked at each other.

“Your husband is not very smart, is he?” the voice continued. Jan said nothing. “I have your daughter. And you’ll never get me, even if you question her for million years.” When the voice stopped talking, even though the line was still open there was dead silence. “She’s actually kind of pretty, except for the teeth. Too bad she’s asleep, maybe I’d, you know, show here a good time?” Still nobody said anything. “I want the money,” the voice said. “I want it, and you better keep Vic from doing anything else stupid. I’ll call you with instructions on where to send it.” Then the voice cut off the call.

The front door opened and Officer Rogers came in, half carrying Vic. Vic looked at everyone, obviously wondering what was going on. Tommy and Barry both moved toward Vic, but neither was as fast as Jan’s coffee cup. It made a solid connection with Vic’s forehead, and then Vic collapsed.

copyright (C) 2012 chrisopher w neal all rights reserved

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