Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Three)

Special Agent Michael Kent sat alone in his office in the mobile command center listening to classical music radio. He needed some time to figure out who Tucker Shaw was. As a profiler for the FBI, it was his job to create a personality framework of the kidnapper in order to assess his determination, motivation, and proclivity for violence. This would help them to understand what kind of person they were dealing with.

It had been a long day waiting for Tucker to reply with the go-ahead. The state police had combed the county, but a midnight snow had covered all the tracks and they had been unable to find a trail. Winter had finally come to Virginia.

Agent Kent put his feet up on the desk and took a deep breath. He knew the more time that passed, the less likely the two kidnapped girls would be released alive. It was just a statistical fact. He closed his eyes and tried to piece together the last few sections of the profile in his mind – prior crimes – family background – incarceration – drug abuse. It did not bode well for Prissy and Evangeline.

Suddenly a familiar melody filled the quiet space in the office. It was Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The music reminded him of a time and a place long ago, before he had chosen duty over love. A deep sadness squeezed his heart and memories poured over the wall that separated work from his personal life. He turned the volume up, put his head in his hands, and let himself travel back through time to a beautiful day with the love of his life.

By letting her go, he had done the right thing, hadn’t he?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Two)

The Tabernacle church was surrounded by flashing blue lights. There were county sheriff’s cars, state police cars, and a couple of black SUVs with dark tinted windows and small blue lights on the dashboard. The FBI had made it to Sommerville from Richmond in record time. After all, kidnapping is a serious crime that requires highly-skilled law enforcement, not hick town sheriffs and their deputies.

Inside the envelope that Tucker had left with the pastor’s wife was a simple note written with a dull pencil.

To the town of Sommerville:

Wire $1,000,000 in to account # 00098970653 at The Swiss Credit Bank in Zurich by 5:00 p.m. on December 21 or Evangeline Goodman and Prissy Montgomery will both be killed.

Call the following voice mail box and leave a message to let me know you have received this message by 5:00 pm tomorrow night, or I will kill Prissy Montgomery just to show you I mean business. The number is 999-708-7675.

Once I know you have received this message, I will call with further instructions.

Don’t piss me off.

Tucker was a good listener and had learned a few things about new identities from his cellmate in prison. He’d also learned a great deal about Swiss bank accounts from Prissy Montgomery. He could disappear in to a big city in the u.s.a. for a while, laying low and living simply for a year before sliding over the border.

He had a new California driver’s license, social security card, veteran’s i.d, and a Swiss Credit Bank ATM card. Soon, Tucker would become just another California beach bum. All he had to do was get to the Standard Iron train depot and hitch a ride in an empty box car.

According to his internet research, the train ran straight across the country to the port in San Diego. On foot, he could be at the depot in twelve minutes if he cut through Saunder’s Dairy, climbed the fence behind the loading dock, and zig zagged through the stacks of iron pipes to the waiting train.

Tucker had timed himself three times before the kidnapping, always making the journey in the darkest hours of the night to avoid being seen. Two of the three times he made it in twelve minutes. Once he made it in 20, only because he twisted his ankle and had to hop the remaining 100 yards, so that time didn’t count.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty One)

Tucker and Prissy discovered the hideout completely by accident. Hiding their relationship from Prissy’s father had forced them to look for secret meeting places. On one such adventure, they stumbled across an abandoned fallout shelter.

At first they thought it was just an old garage, but once inside, they found a door in the floor that opened to a 10 x 10 concrete room, complete with musty old cots and a few rusted tin cans.

The hideout was deep in the woods behind Grandma Shaw’s farm. At one time, there had been a house on the property. But now, only the crumbled outline of the foundation remained.

Tucker pulled Prissy’s car in to the garage, making sure to leave room to open the door in the floor. The garage was so overgrown and surrounded by thick pine trees that it would be almost impossible to see it from the air. Tucker’s only worry was that someone may have seen him turn on to the old logging road. His tracks would be fresh.

Prissy and Tucker had stocked the fallout shelter with enough food, water, beer, and toilet paper for about two weeks. Prissy had also insisted on new blankets, oil lamps, bug spray, folding chairs, and a large mirror to hang on the wall (to make the room look larger). She couldn’t imagine being down in that hole for two weeks without a shower, so Tucker had rigged up a small camp shower behind the garage, on the promise that she would only shower at night, in the dark, and no more than every three days. Prissy reluctantly agreed.

Tucker had also been thoughtful enough to hang a blanket across one corner of the room and had designated it as the unisex bathroom, complete with a portable potty (he couldn't wait to tell Prissy it was her job to empty it).

The wind began to howl through the old garage as the three descended the creeky wooden steps in to the darkness. Tucker’s flashlight threw a halogen beam into the black velvet of the fallout shelter, highlighting newly spun cobwebs and their own reflections in the cracked mirror on the wall.

The plan was in motion. Too late to turn back now.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty)

Piece of cake, that’s what it was.

Evangeline and her mother had been so startled to see Tucker and Prissy and the gun that they’d stumbled in shock to Prissy’s car without resisting. Tucker made Evangeline get in the back seat, all the while pointing the gun at her mother’s head.

Prissy quickly tied Evangeline’s hands, stuffed a rag in her mouth and placed a flour sack over her head, tightening the cotton draw strings just enough to be uncomfortable. Then Tucker shouted at Evangeline to lie down.

Mrs. Goodman was handed a large envelope with the words “Instructions for Ransom” scrawled across the front in black magic marker.

“Take this to Prissy’s father,” Tucker hissed, “if you ever want to see your daughter alive again, make sure they give me what I want.” With that, Tucker and Prissy jumped in the car and left Mrs. Goodman, still shaking in a cloud of dust.

"I am a genius!" Tucker shouted. Prissy nervously looked over her shoulder at Evangeline's flour-sack covered head. Evangeline glared at her through the loosely woven fabric, and although Prissy could not see her eyes, she felt them. A feeling of dread settled in to her stomach causing the acid to rise in her throat. Prissy closed her eyes and prayed to whoever would listen for a speedy and harmless resolution to the kidnapping.

All she wanted was Tucker and an engagement ring. Was that too much to ask?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Evangeline (Part Nineteen)

Tucker was on his sixth beer.

Prissy held her hand up to the sky. She parted her fingers so that the golden fire of the setting sun was between her middle finger and ring finger. If she squinted just right, it looked like she was wearing a huge diamond ring, the kind she expected to receive from Tucker. It would be so romantic to be married on the beach in Mexico. She smiled and let out a happy sigh.

Tucker glanced at her before he opened the car door. “I gotta piss,” he snarled. He slammed the car door and staggered behind a big blue dumpster. Prissy rolled her eyes and wondered how she would ever teach the boy manners. “If he doesn’t stop drinking beer, he will be peeing all night” she thought.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Pastor Goodman’s white station wagon coming up the alley. Her heart began to race in her chest. Tucker peered out from behind the dumpster and held his finger up to his puckered lips to indicate that she needed to be quiet. Prissy sat motionless while sweat began to trickle down between her cleavage. “How can it be so hot in December?” she wondered.

From her vantage point, she could see that Pastor Goodman was alone. Where were Mrs. Goodman and Evangeline? The Pastor seemed preoccupied and hurriedly unlocked the back door to the church without glancing Prissy’s way. After the Pastor was inside, Tucker bolted back to the car and slid in behind the steering wheel.

“Where in the hell is his wife and daughter?” Tucker shouted at Prissy.

“I don’t know,” Prissy whined. “They must have decided to drive separate cars for some reason. And don’t you dare yell at me Tucker Shaw!”

Just about that time, Prissy spotted Evangeline and Mrs. Goodman walking around the corner of the back of Higgin’s Pharmacy. They were smiling and enjoying what appeared to be a chocolate milk shake. Higgin’s Pharmacy makes the best chocolate milk shakes in the entire world. Prissy’s mouth watered at the thought.

“This is perfect,” Tucker muttered. “It will be easier to grab her without Pastor Goodman around. I might not even have to use my gun.” Tucker caressed the cool steel of the pistol and winked at Prissy. “Let’s go,” he ordered.

Prissy and Tucker stepped out of the car and headed down the alley towards Evangeline and her very pregnant mother.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Evangeline (Part Eighteen)

The back door to the Tabernacle Church opened up on to a narrow alley. Across the alley was a very small grassy lot where the pastor parked his car. Tucker Shaw had driven up and down the alley several times, figuring out the best way in and the best way out. It was the final preparation for his ticket out of town. He was ready to get the show on the road.

Prissy picked Tucker up at 5:00 pm and they headed to the spot he had chosen to hide the car, one block from the back door of the Tabernacle Church. They sat and waited as the sun went down for Pastor Goodman and family, to arrive at the church for the Christmas Pageant rehearsals.

Prissy was very unhappy. Tucker had only allowed her to bring one small bag. Did he realize how difficult it was to choose only two pairs of shoes? And what about all her expensive clothes, and makeup, and accessories? She sat and fumed, unable to look at Tucker. How could he be so cruel?

Tucker was oblivious to Prissy’s mood. His mind wandered to long stretches of beach, warm ocean breezes, and a caramel-skinned Mexican cutie bringing him frosty beverages. He couldn’t wait to get there – especially knowing that any day now, Sal Vannelli & Company would be showing up looking for blood. He felt the cold fingers of fear clutch his heart and he tightened his grip on Sal Vannelli’s Colt .38 Special.