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Allan Garrett Allan Garrett
Recommendations: 2

Homecoming- Sunday P2


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

      Back at the station Harry Mitchell and Cutter looked over the maps after the locksmith had left and made plans for the search. Harry had already called the Mayor to tell him he had to leave town on family business for a few days. Bradley was not happy about it, but Harry convinced him the Chief wouldn’t need him. He would probably only be in the way. Harry believed convincing the Mayor he was out of town would allow him and Cutter to roam the annex without anyone knowing it. Besides, telling the mayor he was out of town was one way of telling the whole town he was gone. His wife would cover for him in the event anyone tried him at home. Meanwhile he would camp at an old hunting cabin a mile from Cutters’ place, and once they’d located the real crime scene he’d call Michael in.
      
       After they planned their grid search, Harry called Michael at the house and explained how it would work. It was simple; using the ridgeline where Michael and Cutter had lost the trail they would set out to find the scene by assuming the girl ran almost in a straight line. They’d locate and search every cabin and shed that she could have been held at. Cutter assured Michael that if the scene was in the annex he’d find it in two days or less. He told Michael there are only a few places where someone could hold someone and not be found, the only trouble would be the terrain. With the hills, ditches and the brush growth, it would be slow going. Since it wasn’t hunting season no one would have cleared a trail to any of the places that the girl could have been kept. After talking to Michael, Harry then left for home to get together his hunting gear. He wasn’t looking forward to this job; he had quit hunting years ago because he had grown tired of the woods. He was getting old and sleeping in a run down old cabin in the woods wasn’t something he was looking forward to. And to cap it off rain was coming in; it would be a long two days.



                                   *


       By the time Harry was heading back home. Michael had gotten his father to bed, mercifully without the usual trauma of the fog returning. It had been a good night. For awhile there sitting in the living room with his father and Mabel he had gotten the first chance since coming home to have a clear conversation with his dad. They stayed away from all of the trouble some topics like his siblings and the ugliness of the things Michael had witnessed growing up. Michael was sure to steer the conversation carefully to topics that brought laughter and joking. And only memories revolving around him, not his brother or sister. The doctor had explained that it would help if they avoided anything that angered him or cause him stress. ‘Keep him happy, talk about the past.’ Was what he said. Little did he know that wasn’t easy. The past in the booker household held very little happiness, especially after the death of Michaels’ mother.


       Michael had been 5 years old when she died from cancer. She had suffered for almost a year before it ravaged her body. He had always tried to remember her as the beautiful almost waif like woman she had been before her illness. Always singing, always hugging her children. The woman was devoted to them, and Michael had always compared every woman he was with to her. They never measured up. After Patsy Booker became ill she hired little Mabel Cook as a housekeeper. She knew she wouldn’t be able to take care of her children or her husband and wanted to be sure there would be someone to cook and clean and love her children. Mrs. Booker had gone through three housekeepers in two months and fired them all before she found Mabel. Mabel was a smart mouthed little 19 year old newly wed and 3 months pregnant with her first child when she took the job. Patsy’s favorite thing about Mabel was her refusal to take grief from Mr. Booker. Whenever he would bark at her she would always snap back “I don’t work for you Chief, I work for Ms Patsy!” After Patsy Booker died Mabel would change that line to “I work for your children!”  regardless he would shut up whenever she said it. It was her defiant streak that would create the bond between her and Michael as he grew up.


       Leaning back into the couch, Michael looked over at Mabel who was as usual working on some quilt she apparently never finished.


       “Shouldn’t you be heading home Mom? It’s late.” He asked her.


       “I’ll wait till we know he’s sleeping honey.” She kept stitching.


       “Is Janelle home? She’s probably wondering where you are.”


“She came by just before you got home, grabbed something to eat, and took off to God knows where. That girl never does stop running.” Shaking her head.
      
Michael put his feet up and thought about Mabels daughter. Janelle was 24, as petite as her mother had been when she came to work for Michaels mother. She was stunning to look at, light skinned not like her mother, or father for that matter. Michael had always assumed that somewhere in the family there was some white influence that trickled down to her. Janelle’s father had died when she was young too. He had been drunk and stumbled onto the highway and been hit by a truck. Mabel had never talked about it, nor had he brought it up to her. Michael had been in the Marines when he was killed and knew little of what had happened. Only what little Mabel had told him in letters. All he knew was that Joseph Cook had been drunk late one night and wandered out into the highway.


       As he sat there thinking about it, it struck him as odd. His years as a detective crept into his thought process. ‘How does a drunken man wander 6 miles out of town and get run over by a truck. In the middle of the night?’ He thought. He looked over at Mabel, wanting to start the conversation, but thought better of it. Still, he couldn’t get it out of his head.


       Mabel looked up at him. “You got something to say honey?”


       “Ah, No. Just thinking about that girl” was his reply.


       “No worries baby, you’ll work it out. Well, I better start home” She stood to go.


       Michael stood too. “Let me drive you home Momma.”


       “No, you get to bed I’ll be fine” She insisted.


“Look” Michael explained “It’ll take you 20 minutes to walk and I can have you there in 3 minutes, I’m not taking no for an answer, so get your things together.”


“Don’t you order me around young man. I don’t work for you, I work for your father.” She said with a laugh.


       Michael had cleared the thought of Joe Cook’s death from his head when they reached Mabels house. Janelle came to the door and smiled and waved at him as her mother walked up to the door. He waved back and marveled at the way she looked. She stood there in a sundress, a little early in the year for that he thought, but he admired her shape in it. The thoughts that entered his mind at that point would have gotten him slapped by her mother. Then as Mabel entered the house the light hit Janelle face just right and he saw it. He had seen her countless times over the last month and never realized it before. Her face, slender and oval. Not round like her mothers. And her hair straight and fine, not at all course like Mabels. He was still sitting there as she looked back at him with a curious look. He snapped out of it and pulled away from the house. Driving slowly his mind raced with the thoughts running through his head. Once home he sat in his fathers chair and continued to think about Janelle and her father. Finally he went over to the family photo albums and started going through them all.


       Laying them out on the floor and flipping through them. Mabel with her new baby girl, him in the picture a longhaired 16 year old. But he couldn’t find the picture he need to. After almost an hour of looking he found one. It was loose in the album, like it wasn’t intended to be there. Joe Cook, standing next to his wife on the front lawn of their little house, his son Tyler at his right. Mabel holding her new baby giAnd it hit him like the truck that hit Joe Cook that night 20 years before. Staring at the picture and remembering that face in the doorway it was obvious. Joe Cooks feature were nothing like Janelle’s, nor were her mothers. He fell back and slunk against the wall pondering what this meant. How stupid could he be, that girl had sat across the kitchen table from him. He had watched her grow for 2 years before he left. Watched silently as Joe had descended into a drunken stupor that began with her birth and ended in his death.


       He flipped back through one of the albums until he found the other picture he needed. He stood and wandered up the stairs, walked down the hall and opened the door to his father’s room. Staring at the old man in the bed made it real. He looked down at the photo of his father. The photo taken the day Michael Booker Sr. graduated from basic training in the United States Marine Corp, he was 20 years old. A tear rolled down Michael face as he looked up from the photograph and back at the old man lying in the bed.


       “What did you do, you son of a bitch?”


                                          *


      He sat there on the tailgate of his truck, smoking and listening to the two of them. They had been at it for the last hour. Bitching back and forth about what to do now. Now that the girl was dead and the cops had found her. ‘Their both useless.’ He thought. Morons to be more to the point. Why he even hung around these two he couldn’t figure out. He thought back to where it all started. They had been on their way home from picking up some pot in St. Louis, and had found her walking down the road. The first thing he noticed was her ass. Then her long blonde hair. She was gorgeous, but obvious trailer trash. Not the kind of girl his father would have allowed him to associate with. But then pissing off his father had become his favorite past time.
      
       At first they had just driven past her, Randy and Pat hooting out the window at her like a couple of idiots. They immediately started talking about what they would do to her if they got the chance. That’s when he made the decision that put them in the situation they were in now. He looked up in his rearview mirror and could barely see her, and pulled over. When he did, the other two just looked at him as he lit a cigarette and stared in his mirror. He decide then if she wasn’t a mutt he would pick her up. He hadn’t seen her face, so he waited. Watched in the mirror for her to walk closer to the truck. The two idiot’s were hopping around like little puppies in the truck, yammering at each other and at him. He didn’t pay any attention to them. Just sat and smoked, watching her come closer. She had seen them pull over and had stopped for a minute and looked around. Obviously deciding if the truck was a threat. She must have decided that she had nothing to worry about, what it being the middle of  a Friday afternoon and all the traffic going by. So she kept walking. Once she got close enough he could make out her face. ‘Not bad’ he thought. The monkey boys were starting to get jumpy, and started to lean out the window to start their own attempt at picking her up.


       “Shut the fuck up” he told them. “Stay in the truck and lemme talk to her.”


She was looking right at him now, close enough to make eye contact in the mirror. He opened the door to the truck and stepped out. “Hey, you need a ride?”


       She looked him over. He was dressed well, new jeans a shirt that was obviously bought from some mall in the city. He had long brown hair and was trying to grow a mustache, and failing at it. But he was kind of cute. It was apparent to her he had money, the clothes he was wearing and the truck looked brand new. She could have done worse and had. But she was still wary of him. She also noticed the other two in the truck and they were acting strange. It made her uncomfortable.


       “No” she told him. “I’m just going to a friends house in Montgomery.”


She started to pass by him. He was losing her. “Well shit, Montgomery’s five miles away, why not let me give you a lift? If you walk it you wont get there till after dark, I can have you there in 10 minutes.” He let her pass him, careful not to come on too strong.


“No, really its cool. I can walk it, thanks though.” She smiled at him and kept walking.


It sucked though she thought. She had been walking for 2 days and her feet were killing her. She had run away again for the third time. And this time there was no way she was going back home. Her mothers boyfriend had made it clear what he was going to do if she hung around any longer. ‘Fucking pervert watching me shower, walking in my room when I was changing all the time.’ She hated him. It had been only 6 months since he had moved in with them and ever since he had he was always watching her. She new it was only a matter of time before he would put his hands on her. She had told her mother and she had done nothing, called her a whore and said it was her fault. Because of the clothes she wore. So she took off. Twice the cops brought her back, but not this time. This time she planned it better.


       She saved her money and bought a bus ticket to Jefferson City, she would have gotten one for St Louis but didn’t have enough money. So from there she had hitched, carefully taking rides from only girls or cars with girls in them. She had made to Kingdom City late Wednesday night. The only thing open was a truck stop. She decided to try to sleep in the ladies room and head out the next morning. She didn’t have any cash to buy more than fries and a glass of water. When she ditched into the ladies room the manager had noticed how long she was in there and sent a waitress in to check. Once they realized she was a vagrant they kicked her out, told her they’d call the cops if she came back. She wouldn’t, she knew if the cops found her she’d end up back home, she’d come too far for that to happen. It was when she was walking toward the roadway that the truck driver called out from the door of the restaurant. He walked over to her and asked her where she was going, she told him St. Louis. He said he was heading through there on his way to Chicago, and he’d be willing to let her crash in his sleeper while he drove. He didn’t look scary, and she was cold and tired


       After some more convincing, she decided she’d probably be safe. She had stolen that knife from her mom’s boyfriend and figured she’d just sleep with it in her hand. So she took his offer. He then explained he couldn’t be seen taking her to his truck because she was a minor, so he told her which one was his and had her walk the other direction to go to it. She then snuck around behind the restaurant and found his truck she went up to the passenger door and found it unlocked like he said it was and climbed in. she pulled back the curtain to the sleeper and sat on the bed, pulling the curtain closed and waited. He took a long time almost an hour. She was almost asleep when he climbed into the truck. He didn’t look in the back, just called out to her and she answered him. He told her to go ahead and go to sleep, they’d be in St. Louis in three hours and he’d wake her when they got there. The truck started moving and she relaxed a little. She pulled the knife out of her book bag and unfolded it. Curling up into the fetal position with the knife pressed against her chest she drifted off to sleep.


       She woke startled, confused. It took a minute to clear her head and she realized the truck wasn’t moving. She called out to the man and asked if they were there yet. No answer. Then a few minutes later just when she had summoned the courage to pull open the curtain and get out, the door open and he got back in. “Come out here.” He said.


       She pulled back the curtain and climbed into the seat across from him, hiding the knife in her jacket.


       “Get out of the truck.” He said without looking at her.


       She opened the door, and climbed down and knew she had to get out of there fast. She looked around, it was pitch black. They were off the highway on a side road and she had no clue where she was. She got scared and started walking fast towards the rear of the truck. She was almost to the back of it when he appeared in front of her. Panicked, she pulled out the knife, “Don’t you touch me mother fucker, I’ll cut your dick off!” she screamed.


He just smiled at her. “Look honey, I ain’t gonna do anything to you. I just was thinking while I was driving down the highway, and I thought we should discuss something.”


       “What?” she took a step back.


“The way I figure it, from Kingdom City to St. Louis, you’d pay about sixty bucks for a bus ticket, plus that bed back there would cost you about twenty bucks in some shit hole motel. I figure you owe me eighty dollars.” He leaned against the truck and put his hands in his pockets.


“You know I don’t have any money, I told you that at the truck stop.” She was getting really scared now.


“Yup, I seem to recall that conversation. But ya’ know, I aint been layed in a month and I figure we might be able to work out a trade. I give you a ride you give me one.” He licked his lips and smiled at her again.


“No way Asshole, fuck you, I’ll walk.” She turned away and started walk away from him fast.


“Hey, wait a minute. Look around you. You got any clue where you are?” he asked her.


       She got to the front of the truck and realized she didn’t. looking around it was black, except for the running lights of the truck. Thinking she couldn’t be far from the highway she listened for cars. Nothing. Just crickets and the sound of his truck running. Her eyes started to fill with tears. She heard his footsteps approaching from behind her slowly. She spun around and brought the knife up. He was still ten feet away and raised his hands up. To show her he wasn’t going to hurt her.


“Look, baby girl. I ain’t gonna rape you. Or hurt you. I just figure I got something you need, and you got something I need. A simple trade is all I’m asking for.” He explained quietly.


       She looked around again hoping for a place to run and hide, or maybe someone to come along and save her. But nothing, no one was coming. She was alone.


“Just put the knife down, let’s talk. I ain’t gonna move. I’ll stand right here.” He put his hands back in his pockets.


      She lowered the knife to her waist. She just stared at him. Looking him over. He was around forty. Slightly gray hair, average build. Not a handsome man, but not ugly either. He didn’t even look scary to her. Any other place but here she wouldn’t have even given him a second thought. She needed time to think things over, figure out what to do.


“Don’t you have a wife at home. What would she say if she knew you were out here trying to rape a teenager!?” she was almost screeching from fear.


“Don’t you worry about whether I gotta wife or not, that’s my problem. An I ain’t talking bout rape, I’m talking trade. It ain’t rape if you willin.” He just stood there.


“Well I’m not willing, so forget about it. Just get in your fucking truck and get out of here.” She was working the knife around in the palm of her hand.


“Come on, isn’t it worth discussing? I mean what are you gonna do if I take off, you got no idea where you are, don’t know which way to go. Without me you lost, lost in the middle of no where at three in the morning. Hell, your starving to death to boot. Let’s just talk about your options here.” He told her.


       He was right she was lost, she didn’t know where she was. For all she knew he didn’t even head towards St. Louis. She was asleep 10 minutes after they were moving. She was running out of options and she knew it. He didn’t have to rape her. He could just leave her here and she may never find her way back to the highway.


“Here’s my thought about this,” he explained. “You and me climb back up into the sleeper, you put a smile on my face and by morning your in St. Louis. No harm done. Come on, you don’t look like any fucking Nun honey. I figure you put out to some little punk at least once. What’s the harm in letting an old man like me have a little?”


       Her mind was racing, considering options. Run, cut him, start screaming till he got scared of getting caught, and left her there. But all those options still left her lost in the middle of no where. She was starting to realize she only had one option.


       “How do I know you won’t kill me?” she was almost pleading.


“Look, you were asleep in the cab for an hour after I stopped here. If I had wanted to hurt you I could’ve done it a long time ago. Truth is I ain’t got the balls to lay a hand on ya, if you ain’t willing that is.” Another smile. “” took me all this time to work up the nuts to ask for a trade.”


       She was calming down, feeling he really wouldn’t do anything if she didn’t let him.


“Tell you what.” He went on. “You give me what I’m asking for and I’ll sweeten the deal. Your broke, and hungry.” He pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket. Peeled off two twenty’s and threw them on the ground. “Forty bucks, plus next stop St. Louis, and you never see me again. What’ya say? Or would you rather I leave you out here by yourself?”


       She was resigned to it now, her options were all bad. “You got condoms?”
“Yup, got ‘em in the truck. I ain’t a bad guy, baby. You’ll have a got time. I ain’t had no complaints.” His smile was bigger now, he knew he had won.


       She walked closer to him, keeping her eyes on him she knelt down and picked up the cash and stuffed it in her pocket quickly, knife still in her hand. “You do anything to hurt me and I’ll bust your balls” she told him as she straightened up.


“No sweat baby girl, it’s all gonna be fun and games. If I’m smiling your smiling.” He took a step closer to her and ran his hand through her hair and rested it on her shoulder.


       She looked up at him meekly, still scared. “ So we get in the truck?”


“Nah, baby. Not yet.” He dropped his hands and began to undo his belt buckle. “We can get started right here, we can jump in the truck in a bit.” He put his hand back on her shoulder and press down and putting pressure on her shoulder. She swallowed hard and slowly dropped to her knees.


“That’s it baby girl, we’re gonna have a good time together, and by morning your in St. Louis.” He said as his hands came to rest on the back of her head.


       It took an hour, and he had more stamina than she expected. She had never been with a guy older than twenty and didn’t expect him to want to go more than once. But when he suggested he was ready for more, she complied. Afraid if she didn’t, he’d leave there. They were driving down the highway again, this time with her in the seat next to him. He had wanted her to go down on him again while he drove. And she did, what choice did she have? Now she was drinking the beer he had given her when she finished. She was happy to have it, something to wash the taste of him out of her mouth. He talked a lot now. Telling her how she was better in the sack than his wife, how his daughter was about to be fifteen. Hearing that made her sick to her stomach. She thought about her mothers boyfriend, wondered to herself what was the difference between what she had just done and what she knew he wanted. She rationalized that this was just once, and it would get her far away from him. And she resolved right then that she wouldn’t let anyone make her do that again. It would be her choice, not theirs.


       He did what he promised, dropping her off outside St. Louis at a McDonalds so she could get something to eat. He even gave her another twenty bucks, bringing her total to sixty for her first time prostituting herself. He also gave her a map so she could figure out which way to go from there. And as if they were friends and she had enjoyed herself , he gave her his cell number and told her he drove through St Louis every Friday. Once he pulled away she wadded up the number and threw it away, took two steps and threw up.


       It had taken her two days to get here from St Louis, just 5 miles from her destination. Her friend Katrina, whom she met while working at McDonalds, had moved here eight months ago. And had told he over the phone that if she was able to get away she could stay with her. She had refused rides from lot’s of men and young guy’s like this Tommy character just to avoid what had happened with the truck driver. But she was exhausted, having slept in the bathroom of an all night gas station the first night. And last night was worse, sleeping under an overpass. With the cars driving by she hadn’t slept at all. Then there was her feet, she could feel the blisters that had formed and it hurt like hell. She only had five miles left to go and the thought of it made her feet hurt worse.


       Tommy made on last attempt, ready to let the little bitch go. “Hey look, I got some weed, we could smoke one on the way.”


       It was her feet that made her mind up, she liked getting high, but if her feet hadn’t hurt so much she probable would have kept walking. She turned to face Tommy.


“Alright, but I don’t wanna ride up front with those two idiots.” She pointed to Randy and Patrick in the cab. “They look like morons and I didn’t appreciate the things they said when you passed me.”


“No sweat” Tommy answered. “But ride up front with me so we can smoke, I’ll make them get in back.”


She started walking back to the truck, Tommy ran around to the passenger side and open the door. “Get in back.” He told Patrick and Randy.


       “What the fuck for?” Patrick asked.


She was almost to the truck and Tommy didn’t have much time. “Dude.” He lowered his voice she was getting close. “ I gotta a plan, we’re gonna pull a train on this slut, just get in the back.”


       Patrick just smiled, and jumped out. Randy looked confused and Patrick grabbed his shirt and pulled him out of the truck. Randy tried to talk to her as she got in but she ignored them. After she climbed in Tommy closed the door and as he was walking around the front of the truck she moved up against her door, still thinking about the decision she had just made, thinking now her feet didn’t hurt that bad. Tommy climbed into the truck and after Randy and Patrick jumped in the back they drove off towards Montgomery. It was getting dark traffic had subsided, no one driving by would notice the little blond girl climbing into the truck and pulling away.


       David McCallister had just pulled into the parking lot of the Jiffy mart. The whole way to work he had been arguing with his girlfriend on the phone. As he pulled into the lot he had seen the two of them talking by the truck on the side of the road. He had figured they were probably having the same argument he was. Sitting in his car, with his back to the road he hadn’t seen her get in. He hung up the phone and looked up in his rear view mirror in time to see the boy get in a drive off. Climbing out of the car he looked around for the girl, wondering if she needed help. She was gone. He stood and thought about the exchange he witnessed between them, he couldn’t tell if they were arguing or not. He decided he was worried about nothing, the guy was probably her boyfriend and they had a spat. Shrugging his shoulders he turned and walked in the Jiffy Mart to begin his shift.


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Next: Betrayed: Chapter 8