Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Eight)

And that’s the end of the story, at least as far as most people know.

Five years later, Evangeline and Tucker have not been found. After a year-long nationwide manhunt and no legitimate leads, the FBI deemed the file a “cold case.” Michael Kent left the FBI, got married, and travels with his wife around the world doing charity work.

Rumors still circulate about what might have happened to Tucker and Evangeline. Some people think that Sal Vanelli finally caught up with Tucker, and that both Tucker and Evangeline are sitting on the bottom of Powhatan Lake strapped to a 200 pound sack of gravel (the Vanelli’s are in the gravel business).

Some people believe that Tucker escaped to Mexico with Evangeline, and that he probably killed her and buried her in the desert. Rumor has it that Tucker is working as a waiter at one of the big resorts in Cancun.

The best stories involve alien abductions or satanic rituals. After all, how could two people just disappear off of the face of the earth without leaving one shred of evidence?

Like Elvis, there have been Tucker “sightings” on the beach in Miami, at a liquor store in Austin, and at the Emmy Awards in Hollywood. But the FBI has never been able to validate any of the claims.

You may be disappointed that this story doesn’t have a happier ending, or at least an ending that makes sense, which takes me back to the beginning and the reason I’ve been telling you this. Before I go to meet my Maker, I want someone to know what I saw on Christmas Eve five years ago. Call me a crazy old lady, but I know what I saw. You can make up your own mind about whether or not it’s true.

It had snowed that night and the moon was full. My daughter who is a nurse at the hospital called to tell me that Pastor and Mrs. Goodman had just given birth to a 7 lb. 6 oz. healthy baby boy. Not a thing in the world was wrong with him - no Down’s Syndrome, not even an extra finger or toe. He was perfect and it was a miracle. All those doctors had been wrong. Mrs. Goodman cried and said it was Evangeline’s singing that had made the baby well. Maybe having their healthy new son would begin to heal their broken hearts.

Anyway, I was so happy to hear the news about the new baby that I wrapped up in my old wool coat and went out on to the front porch to say a prayer of gratitude. The air was pure and crisp and the sky was jet black and full of stars.

I often look up at the sky when I pray. I feel like God can hear me better that way. I lifted my face and was just about to close my eyes when I felt something gently brush against my cheek like a feather. It was a butterfly, in the dead of winter, a beautiful, rare Panacea Prola butterfly indigenous to the Amazon River Basin. It landed on the back of my hand and slowly opened and closed its silver-blue wings.

I was in shock. What in the world was an Amazonian butterfly doing in Virginia in December? Then I realized that there were more butterflies, hundreds and hundreds of them. They began to swirl around me in a kaleidoscope of color, the light of the moon reflecting in their iridescent wings. It was like being inside a rainbow. My heart overflowed with joy.

Then the butterflies flew like a whispering river towards someone walking down the middle of the street.

That’s when I saw Evangeline, bare-footed, her hair a shining mass of perfect curls. There was a light about her, like the glow of a firefly, and the butterflies were drawn to it.

She stopped right beneath the first street light and turned to look at me. She smiled and raised her hand as if to wave hello, then reached right through the air and parted it like a curtain.

Then she stepped through and was gone. I stood motionless, not believing my very own eyes. The butterflies turned a glistening white, became snow flakes, and softly fell from the sky, covering Evangeline’s footprints.

I walked out on to the street and looked up in to the heavens and realized Evangeline was home at last.

The End

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews, Chapter 13:2

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Seven)

Michael Kent looked at his watch and prayed that they had found the place in time. Using the clues Stacy had given him, Michael had been able to find the bunker on an old county survey dated 1949. Someone had been expecting Russia to drop a bomb.

Now, surrounded by a full S.W.A.T. team and a few dozen state police, ATF agents, and FBI, it was easy to see why it had been difficult to spot from the air. Sheltered by a thick grove of pine trees, the tiny shed that covered the bunker would not have stood out as an anomaly, especially with a thick blanket of snow on the roof.

The S.W.A.T. team slowly tightened the circle around the shed. Michael motioned for the captain in charge to move in. Suddenly, the quiet forest exploded with the shouts of the men on the S.W.A.T. team, “FBI! Put your hands in the air!” as they descended the wooden steps of the bunker in a rush of body armor and assault rifles.

For a long moment, Michael’s heart was gripped with fear. What would they find? He thought about Stacy and how if it hadn’t been for her –

“Agent Kent,” someone shouted over the radio, “Get down here right away. The area has been secured.” Then another voice crackled through the state police two-way urging someone to, “Call an ambulance” and his heart sank.

He made his way down the wooden steps. There, lying on her back on the floor was Prissy Montgomery. Her neck was badly bruised, and she was unconscious, but she was alive. One of the S.W.A.T. team members had taken off his goose down jacket and covered her as the room was like a walk-in refrigerator.

Michael began to look around. It appeared as though someone had recently pressure-washed the walls. They were perfectly white like freshly poured concrete. There was nothing else in the room. No furniture. No food. No Evangeline. No Tucker. Nothing. Not a speck of dust or a bit of debris or a strand of hair. The room had been sterilized.

Michael reached for his cell phone and hit the re-dial button. He had promised Stacy he would call when they had breached the bunker.

Stacy answered without saying hello. “She’s gone Michael. It’s over.” Michael felt the stress of the last few days suddenly overpower him. His knees grew weak and he sat down on the floor to keep from falling. He had failed. One girl alive. One girl dead. That’s the way it would end after all. Stacy was never wrong. If she said she was gone, then Evangeline Goodman was most certainly gone. And when Stacy said “gone,” she meant “dead.”

“Michael,” said Stacy gently. “I’m coming down there. I will be there tomorrow. I will help you find the body. I will help you.”

Michael closed his eyes and remembered her face and suddenly all he wanted was her arms around him.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Six)

Tucker felt the vibration before he heard it. He could feel it in his chest and in his teeth. He tightened his grip on Prissy’s delicate neck. Her eyes grew wide with confusion, then with anger, and then fear as she began to realize that Tucker was indeed trying to kill her.

Prissy grabbed Tucker’s hands and frantically buried her fingernails in to his skin, scratching and clawing at his cold grip. This only made him angry and he squeezed harder. Prissy’s face was a deep, purple-red. Her eyelashes fluttered as she gasped for air. Tears spilled out of the corners of her eyes and rolled down her cheeks in tiny rivers of pain.

The vibration grew stronger. Tucker could hear it now. Like a faraway swarm of hornets, a low buzz that tickled his ears. He glanced over at Evangeline and realized the sound was coming from her. She was humming, her eyes closed as in prayer, the long piece of duct tape still covering her mouth.

The room began to grow darker. The buzzing grew louder. Tucker felt dizzy and nauseated all at once. He could feel Prissy’s knees buckling under her. She was almost dead, if he could just stop that buzzing.

“Shut up!” he screamed at Evangeline. “Stop that noise right now, or you will be next!” he threatened.

Tucker’s mind began to reel. He saw tiny flecks of light and heard the sound of a choir humming long slow notes, “O Come, O Come Emanuel.”

Evangeline slowly opened her eyes and the room filled with butterflies. Only to Tucker Shaw they were razor blades, with wings.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Five)

Stacy Garcia was halfway between Chesterton, Indiana and Chicago when her cell phone startled her back from distant thoughts. She glanced at the number and her heart began to race.

It had been five years since she had heard from Michael, but in spite of everything, she still thought about him every single day and wondered what his life was like without her in it.

Michael was a man who believed in facts, science, and evidence. Stacy believed in things that couldn’t be proven. She had a gift that Michael couldn’t understand and eventually, it had become a wedge between them. He was determined to climb the ladder in the FBI, and there was no way he would succeed with a wife who could see the past, and sometimes the future.

Like her grandmother, Stacy had the “gift”. And even though law enforcement was always skeptical whenever her services were enlisted by some desperate detective, she had been extremely successful in helping to solve difficult cases. Now, she rarely aided the police. The more she opened her mind to “seeing” the crime, the more it affected her health. It was as if the gift came with a price.

Before she answered the phone, images began to appear before her mind’s eye. Two girls…concrete walls….and death….it was near. She was solving Michael’s mystery before she even heard his voice. Her connection to him had always been strangely powerful.

She answered without saying hello.

“Two girls. They’re in a small, dark, room. One of them is bound to a chair. The walls are concrete. They’re in grave danger Michael.”

Michael paused for a moment. He had forgotten how much he loved Stacy’s voice. It gave him a rush and he felt his heart pounding in his chest. He took a deep breath and summoned the most professional response he could muster.

“Hello Stacy. I hope you are well. The FBI would truly appreciate your assistance. Can you give me any other details of the scene?”

Stacy pulled the car over on to the emergency lane. The images were coming fast now. She could feel the cold dampness of the bunker. The room had an underground musty smell. Then she was looking in to a pair of cold green eyes and her throat began to tighten.

Friday, September 08, 2006

On the Road Again

I'll be traveling on business the next few weeks. Keep checking back for the final few chapters of Evangeline. She's almost home.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Four)

Tucker retrieved the message off of the internet voice mail box. The Feds were unwilling to commit to making the deposit until they talked to the girls to ensure they were still alive. They were insisting that Tucker speak with their negotiator. Guess he would have to kill Prissy today.

He turned off the cell phone and headed back to the fallout shelter through the fresh blanket of snow. Time to show the Feds he meant business.

He climbed down the steps into the shelter and winked at Prissy. “Everything’s going as planned,” he said with a smile. Prissy hopped up and threw her arms around his neck. “That’s wonderful Tucker! I am sooooo ready to get out of this dungeon!” she whined.

You mean your tomb. He thought to himself.

Evangeline was bound to a folding chair. Her ankles and wrists secured with duct tape. Tucker had also made sure to put an extra long piece over her mouth. The last thing he wanted was to hear her singing. He shuttered at the thought.

With her arms still around his neck, Tucker began to ponder how to kill Prissy. He could always shoot her. But maybe strangulation would be more fun? He could just imagine the look on her face when it dawned on her that he had tricked her, lied to her, and used her.

He slid his hands up to cup her face and gave her a long kiss on the mouth. “Ewww, Tucker,” Prissy groaned, “You need to brush your teeth.”

He smiled and slowly moved his hands down around her delicate neck, his thumbs making little affectionate circles so as not to alarm her.