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Yes, yes I can write a novel! Pt. 29

Updated on November 29, 2012

The Just War, Denouement

Note: We have reached the end of 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. I hope the book has inspired or touched you in some way. Thank you.


Denouement, pronounced day-noo-mah, but sometimes people put the “nt” on it, is a French word which literally means ‘untying.’ It is the word used for the end of a story, when all the comings and goings have finished. It is the final outcome of a dramatic work.

Denouements in the movies and on television are always satisfying, almost always at least. The guy gets the girl, the bad guy (or bad girl) gets their comeuppance, and all is right with the world. The evil has been rendered harmless and people go back to the lives they had before.

That’s what it’s like on the screen.

Vic imagined what it would be like, the SWAT team busting into the house, taking the guy by surprise, rescuing his grateful daughter just like on some television show like “Criminal Minds” or something like that. He wanted to be there, but one thing that TV got right was that the family was never there. He heard later that MacIlhaney, whose real name was John Wayne Cook, had been holding Jennifer in an abandoned house on Kansas Street, near a warehouse. When asked by neighbors, they had complained about loud noises coming from the house, sometimes it sounded like a girl screaming.

Vic had insisted on going to the hospital with Jan, though he nearly collapsed three times. They wanted it to be like a movie, where they grateful parents run and hug the relieved daughter. They went into a darkened room where Jen was lying in a bed, sedated and restrained. Detective Jack Becker of the IMPD told the sobbing parents that she had been heavily sedated when they found her, and that when she woke up she immediately became hysterical and started attacking the officers who were with her. They had administered Risperidal under a doctor’s orders but she refused to calm down. She eventually began banging her head against any surface she could reach. They had no choice.

Even with the room being almost completely dark, it was difficult to miss the scrapes and bruises on Jen’s arms and face.

By the time of the trial, Vic had healed sufficiently to attend with Jan and Barry. Tommy was also there, as was the entire Siler family, Stacey Johnson, and several people from the Lawless’ church. It had been pretty straightforward, the defense attempted to prove the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity. This was rejected by the jury. At the sentencing, when Cook was asked if he wished to make a statement, he answered affirmatively. At the microphone, in full view of all the reporters and everyone in the gallery, he turned to the Lawless family and, with an evil grin, extended both middle fingers, mouthing the words, “One for each of you.” Jan began spitting words like a machine gun, and an adrenalized Vic used the rail separating the lawyers from the gallery as a launching pad. He successfully got his hands around Cook’s throat but was quickly pulled off by Sherriff Deputies. He was dragged from the courtroom, where television cameras were immediately thrust in his face with questions about how he was feeling. He snarled out a short comment, then walked off to the bathroom.

When Vic got back to work, he never pursued a promotion.

Jen went to a home for severely autistic children who had been damaged. It was in another state. After a few years, they bought a house and moved there. Vic and Jan became full time advocates for autism causes. Barry became heavily involved as well.

They would go visit Jen as often as possible at first, but as Jen got ‘better,’ it became obvious that she would never be ‘well’ again. She wanted to leave, but when she did she was still prone to violent outbursts of greater frequency and severity. Eventually the staff requested they not come because Jen would become more violent after their visits, due to her frustration at not being allowed to leave.

The last time Vic visited Jen was on a whim. It had been four years. She was tall and beautiful, and it broke his heart to see her. She recognized him immediately and ran to hug him, saying, “Want Dad, want Dad,” over and over. He wrapped his arms around her in the sort of bear hug that always used to calm her, and it did. She was sleepy, it was late, and he picked her up and carried her into the room she slept in and rocked her and held her. When she fell asleep, he kissed her on the head and told her how much he loved his baby girl. He went out to his car and cried all the way home. Then he and Jan and Barry all cried together because they finally allowed themselves to realize that though their girl had been rescued, she would never truly be returned to them.

In the movies, people pick up the pieces, but in real life you often have to make the best of a bad situation.

John Wayne Cook never did tell anyone why he had targeted Jennifer Lawless.




copyright (C) 2012 christopher w neal all rights reserved


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    • Chris Neal profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Neal 

      4 years ago from Fishers, IN

      Thank you very much!

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Congratulations on completing the NaNoWriMo challenge! Neat! ;-)

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