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Yes, yes I can write a novel! Pt. 26

Updated on November 27, 2012

The Just War, Ch. 26

Note: We have reached chapter 26 in my novel, "The Just War." I'm writing this for the NaNoWriMo challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days. This is the rough draft, meant (hopefully) to inspire those who aspire to write novels that, if I can do it, so can they! But since it is a rough draft, there will be continuity, syntax and yes, spelling errors. I hope they don't detract too much. Enjoy!

Vic was spitting out words a mile a minute, forgetting all about his physical discomfort. Sitting up on the bed, he watched as Detective Smithers lowered Jan’s limp body to the floor. Tommy was trying to get Vic to lay back down but with no success, even though he was taller and stronger than Vic under normal circumstances. Vic had the phone in his hand and was streaming out every epithet he could think of and some he didn’t remember ever hearing before.

The voice on the phone was laughing.

Finally Tommy and Smithers managed to get Vic calmed down. Suddenly the room was full of people as Barry, Stacey, Bob and Sue Silers and a couple of other people from the Lawless’ Sunday School class were in the room. Smithers motioned for them all to keep back.

“What’s going on?” Barry kept asking. Stacey held tightly to him. Bob and Sue were looking alarmed and concerned. The other couple, who Vic recognized as Stan and Valerie Ackerman, looked utterly shocked and obviously had no idea what to do.

The voice kept laughing.

Vic just looked at Barry, his face a changing jumble of emotions. Stacey put her hand up to her mouth, trying not to scream. Barry just stood for a moment, then fell to his knees, just missing his mother’s head. He started sobbing uncontrollably, inconsolably, shrieking out his pain.

Vic stood up and started talking. “You got your audience, MacIlhaney. You’ve got your applause, bravo. Now where is my little girl’s body?”

Smithers and Tommy tried to pull Vic back down on the bed but he wouldn’t budge. The voice on the other end of the call, the imaginary line made up of radio waves that went from station to station in between one phone and another, giggled. The utter glee in his voice was inhuman to Vic, not something he was able to understand. He hated it as much as he had ever hated anything.

“Vic, Vic, Vic,” the voice finally started. “Can I call you Vic? That’s what everyone else seems to call you.”

“Where is my daughter?!” he shouted into the phone.

“Calm down, Vic. She’s safe! I haven’t done anything with her and as long as no one does anything stupid, like you tried to do, then I won’t do anything more to her.” There was a smug pause. “It’s not quite time yet, Vic old boy. A little patience, and then if I’m feeling good, everyone gets what they want.”

Not quite, thought Vic. I don’t get your head on a platter.

“Well, it’s been real and it’s been fun,” MacIlhaney said. “And for me it’s been real fun!” Then the line went dead.

Vic closed the phone. Barry and Stacey were hysterical on the floor. Smithers and Tommy had managed to get Jan up on the bed, who was coming around. The Silers and the Ackermans looked horror stricken, much like he’d sometimes imagined the first soldiers to find the German death camps had looked. Vic was still pumped on the adrenaline, his breathing was ragged and he was sweating like the proverbial grizzly bear. Looking around, he said, “Jen’s not dead!” He tried to shout it, but his injuries were catching up with him. Smithers and Tommy helped him back onto his side of the bed just as he was about to collapse.

“What did you say?” Bob asked from the doorway.

“I said she’s not dead,” Vic managed to croak out.

“Oh thank God!” Valerie Ackerman said, the relief was palpable.

Officer Yoder could be heard from the back, “Is everything okay, Detective?”

“Could you please get everyone out of here?” Smithers yelled back.

“Okay, could everyone please come downstairs? We need to give the people some space,” Yoder’s words came from the hallway. “Please everyone, let them alone.”

Vic gasped out from the bed, “Tom.”

“Yeah, Vic. What do you need?”

“Help Barry and Stacey get back to his room, please.”

“Yeah, sure,” Tommy replied. “You got it, Vic.” He helped Barry, who was still sobbing, to his feet. Stacey followed them out. Then he came back in.

Smithers was watching the rain out the window. He turned to Vic and started talking. “You did a good job of keeping it together on the phone, just now.”

“Thanks,” Vic acknowledged. “I remember what happened when I didn’t keep it together.”

“Yes sir,” Smithers continued. “So the kidnapper said she’s definitely not dead?”

Vic drew in a breath, trying to remember everything about the conversation. The rain outside was picking up, which he wouldn’t have thought possible. “He said, ‘She’s safe. I haven’t done anything with her and as long as no one does anything stupid, like you tried to do, then I won’t do anything more to her.’” Smithers grimaced at this. Jan and Tommy looked at each other. Vic was perfectly aware of all this and of the portent of the last phrase, but he chose not to dwell on it.

Smithers’ hand was in his pocket, fingering his cigarette pack. “Mr. Bowen said the kidnapper identified himself as Jay MacIlhaney. Is that true?”

As Tommy nodded behind Smithers, unconsciously affirming that he had said it, Vic replied, “Yeah, when I said hello he said, ‘Victor, this is Jay MacIlhaney.’” He groaned, the pain was getting worse. “At first I didn’t even remember that was supposed to be his name. He seemed offended.”

“Angry,” Tommy interjected. Smithers nodded.

Sitting up in the bed, a still woozy Jan asked, “Does that mean anything, Detective?”

Smithers was lost in thought as he said, “Maybe, maybe not.”

“Well that’s helpful!” Jan returned. She leaned her head back on a pillow that was propped against the dark cherry headboard.

“Sorry,” Smithers said, though it was low. A little louder he said, “It’s hard to tell what it might mean. It might mean that he knew Addison would tell us his name is Jay MacIlhaney, or that he was testing us to see if Addison had done so.”

“You seem a little deep in thought for just that,” Tommy remarked.

“Hmm? Yes, yes you’re right,” Smithers replied. “It might also mean that it’s his real name and he’s been working under an assumed name for quite some time. It’s just impossible to know right now.”

“The deadline’s only a couple of hours away,” Vic said. “He said that, ‘It’s not quite time yet.’ Then he said, ‘A little patience, and then if I’m feeling good, everyone gets what they want.’”

“He really is a control freak,” Tommy observed.

“Yes, and he’s been in control of everything, the whole time,” Jan said.

“Unfortunately that’s true. He has us a disadvantage and he’s pressed every opportunity to keep it that way,” Detective Smithers said. Everyone looked at Vic, who was looking at the ceiling.

“So what can we do?” Jan asked.

“At this point, about all we can do is prepare the money for the drop and trust that he’ll return her safe and sound.” Smithers grimaced, even he didn’t like the sound of that.

“Well, aren’t you going to have people watching?” Tommy asked.

“You mean like they do in all the movies and stuff?” Smithers replied.

“Yes, exactly!” Jan said.

“Well, yes we will,” Smithers acknowledged. “Not necessarily the Fishers Police Department, it depends on where he wants the money dropped. It might be in Indianapolis, so then IMPD would be responsible for that, or Noblesville or Carmel or wherever. And if it’s in Hamilton County, the Hamilton County Sherriff’s office will also be involved. But there will be people watching the pickup.”

“So you swoop in and pick him up and then we go get Jen, right?” Jan asked.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Vic answered. Everyone looked at him, although he continued to look at the ceiling. His ribs were killing him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jas asked in a slightly irritated voice.

“It means that he’s already proven capable of a lot. What if he clams up and doesn’t tell us where Jen is?” Vic asked. “What if, just out of spite, he sits like a rock in his cell until his hair is gone and he’s forgotten what fresh air is like, but won’t tell us just because he so loves being in control?”

“All right, Mr. Cheerful!” Jan started.

But Smithers stepped in. “Hold on, everybody! If we start arguing and whatever teamwork we’ve managed to achieve falls apart, that will be the end of everything and he will have won.” Everyone just looked at him, waiting for him to say what they should do next. He took a deep breath and said, “Mr. Lawless is right. We are going to let him pick up the money and take it to where ever he’s keeping your daughter. Then we can get him and rescue her. Agreed?” he asked, not so much a question as a command.

“Agreed?” he repeated in a sterner voice. He knew he needed to regain control of this situation, at least within the household.

“Agreed,” everyone responded. They all nodded, though no one seemed terribly sure about what would happen next, if the situation would have a good outcome, or really much of anything.

“Good. We’re in touch with IMPD, the Hamilton County Sherriff’s office, and Noblesville, Carmel and Cicero police. We want to be ready. Unfortunately, that may mean he’ll call in a few minutes or may call late. Don’t lose hope, please!” Smithers cajoled.

Everybody nodded. Vic looked up at the ceiling, then looked out the window.

The rain continued in a deluge.

copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved


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