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Yes, yes I can write a novel! Pt. 27

Updated on November 29, 2012

The Just War, Ch. 27

Note: We have reached the penultimate chapter in my novel, "The Just War." I'm writing this for the NaNoWriMo challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days. I have now actually met the word goal, but the story isn't quite finished. 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!

It was twenty minutes past four o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday. The phone from the kidnapper, whether or not his name was Jay MacIlhaney, had remained silent. It sat like a stone on the dining room table, next to Detective Phillip Smithers computer.

Victor Lawless’ phone was also silent, unopened and mocking, sitting on his bedside table.

Upstairs, in bed, in pain in so many ways, Victor Steven Lawless thought about his daughter. Autistic girls were not as common as boys, it was four times more common for a boy to be autistic than a girl. And as if that weren’t difficult enough, she was severely autistic. She didn’t speak except for a few words when she wanted something really bad. When she got too frustrated she would hit herself, or someone else. She was given to meltdowns, sometimes for no reason. She had little patience for things that didn’t interest her, and if you tried to make her do something that she didn’t like she would have a meltdown. It was no question that she was severely autistic and in so many ways cut off from the world.

But there was a mixed blessing in all of it. Although she was severely autistic, rarely ate solid food, was not toilet trained and required twice daily dosing’s of an atypical antipsychotic in order to keep her mood swings from being completely out of control; she was still a girl. She knew she was a girl, thought of herself as a girl, and wanted to be with other girls as a friend, play with other kids her age, and dream about boys. Vic had been so thankful for Jan because there were so many things he didn’t think he could ever handle. So many female things. She wanted to break out, to be normal, to be like other girls. She just didn’t know how. Jan, with her proverbial saint like patience, had helped out so much, and the teachers at her schools had been great. There had been typical girls who had agreed to hang out with Jen, and for the most part they had been great, but they were only in school. Jen would come home and there would be no friends for her. Once they had met some of the girls at a Sam’s Club near the food area, and Jen had immediately sat down at the food table. Jan and Vic later decided that it was probably because she was used to seeing the girls for lunch and since they were near cafeteria style tables, she had just associated the two. Once, when Jen had been sick in elementary school, some girls she had been school friends with at that time had made a card for her, wishing her well. They had signed it to their “Special Needs Friend, Jen.” Jan read it to Jen, who immediately took it and put it in the trash, in her wordless way.

“It was that word,” Jan had stated later, though they hadn’t discussed it for several hours.

“What word? What do you mean?” Vic had asked, stretching out in bed and preparing to sleep.


“You mean because the girls signed it to their Special Needs Friend?” Vic asked, emphasizing the word ‘needs.’

“Yeah,” she said. She looked over at him from the book she was reading, some piece of light theology. “It’s because they called her their Special Needs Friend. They should have just called her their special friend, or just their friend, but not their Special Needs Friend.” Her blue eyes had taken on an icy look, the way they always did when she was frustrated and angry.

Vic had agreed. Secretly he had wanted to find the girls and give them a good tongue lashing, but he knew better.

Vic had prayed often for God to heal Jen, for Him to change her to a normal child whose heart wouldn’t be broken every day by her inability to interact with the ‘outside world.’ Or at least for her to be more like other severely autistic children and not care what other people were doing, just be in her own world.

Once, in a moment when the two of them were frustrated at their inability to help the daughter they both loved so much, Jan had confessed that it would simply be easier if Jen died. She didn’t have to say that she would never do it, or ever want to, Vic knew his wife better than that. But he understood completely. It wasn’t that it would be easier for the parents, though Lord knew it would be. It was that Jen would never get hurt any more, never have to deal with all the situations that she couldn’t understand or process. And what would happen to her when Vic and Jan were too old to care for her? Barry had sworn up and down that he would always take care of his little sister, and the two of them had a close and special relationship. But Vic and Jan fretted that Barry would meet a girl, would fall in love and get married. And that girl might be perfectly nice, loving, caring, empathetic, but would she love Jen? Would she grow resentful, bitter, and not want to have to deal with Barry’s freaky sister? And what if they had kids of their own?

One coping mechanism that Vic had developed was to buy things for Jen. Whenever they would go out, because Jen hated to just be home but wanted to be constantly out and running around, he would buy her DVD’s or hats or other little things she wanted. Jan complained constantly about more junk coming into the house, and Vic knew she was right, but he loved his daughter and he felt sorry for her. Barry had resented it for a while, been jealous, but as he had gotten older he had made peace with it, especially as he had developed his own interests, friends and a girlfriend.

And what was happening now? Where was she? What was that creep doing to her? What had he meant by ‘I won’t do anything more to her?’ For all he knew she could be in another state.

What was that thing MacIlhaney had said? Vic struggled to remember, he had been jerking them around, they didn’t even know if his real name was MacIlhaney, but he said things and Vic had wanted to remember it all just in case.

Another state, another state. The 34th state, he said he’d lived there once.

Excited, Vic struggled out of bed. His ribs felt like they were trying to kill him from the inside. The sedative and pain killer were wearing off, but he couldn’t stop. He opened the door. He actually remembered to pick up the phone and stick it in the pocket of his pajama pants as he staggered to the stairs and almost fell down them. With a loud grunt, he caught himself on the bannister.

“Vic?” came Jan’s voice from the living room. Vic remembered that she and Barry and a group from the church were all praying downstairs. She appeared, along with Barry, Tommy, Smithers and Bob Siler. “Vic, what are you doing?” she yelled, running up the stairs. Smithers and Tommy were right behind her, taking Vic and trying to drag him upstairs, back to bed.

He fought them as much as his body would allow, saying, “I think I know where she might be.”

Finally, Smithers stopped struggling with him and asked, “What do you mean? Where do you think she is?”

“I think she might be in a house on Kansas Street,” Vic gasped out. The sweat was running down his face in a river.

“Kansas Street?” Barry asked from the bottom of the stairs. “Does Fishers have a Kansas Street?”

“No, but Indianapolis does,” Smithers replied for the gasping Vic. “It’s a tiny little street on the South Side, just a couple of blocks long.” Taking a firm grasp of Vic’s arm, he said, “Come on tiger, let’s get you back in bed and then I’ll call IMPD.”

Tommy and Detective Smithers lowered the sweaty, shaking Victor Lawless back into his bed. From the doorway of the bedroom, Bob asked, “What made him think of Kansas Street? How do we know she’s there?”

“We don’t for sure,” Smithers answered. “But it’s as good an idea as any. MacIlhaney said that he once lived in the 34th state.”

“And that’s Kansas?” Bob asked.

“Yes, admitted to the union in 1861as a free state,” Tommy said. Vic and Smithers looked at him, but he shrugged.

Smithers went downstairs to contact his superior and IMPD. The rain was still coming down in buckets, but somehow it seemed a little brighter outside.

In Vic’s pocket, the phone rang.

copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved


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