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"Bittersweet Revenge"


Chapter 1
Bittersweet Revenge

By Mistydawn

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

Max double checks the locks before heading to bed. It seems so strange with his girl's away from home tonight. Bonnie, his beautiful wife of fourteen years and his two daughters are at a ballet in Fayetteville.

He normally wouldn't allow such a trip on a school night, but this is a special occasion. Both girls ranked top in their ballet class, and as a reward, they're allowed to participate in a stage performance of the Nutcracker.

Closing his eyes, Max imagines his two beautiful girls elegantly gliding across the stage floor. "That's my girls," he whispers, drifting off into a deep peaceful sleep.

***

She sits quietly under the glow of the bright moonlight, little creatures are scurrying all around her, giving the woods a sense that potential danger is lurking nearby. This is a familiar feeling since she spent most of her childhood living on the streets.

She doesn't blame her mama for her horrifying childhood. All the beatings, hunger, the vile sex acts she had to perform. No, that's all Max's fault. He's the one who refused to help them when they desperately needed it. Her poor mama tried to get Max's assistance, begging him on her old arthritic knees. Max made it perfectly clear that he wasn't going to help no matter what she said, or did.

"All of that's about to change. Because tonight I'm going to make sure you pay the ultimate price for your neglect. You're going to pay with your life."

Looking at her watch, she realizes it's been nearly an hour since Max turned off the lights. Jumping up, she brushes the soil off her clothes. "This's the moment I've been waiting for my entire life."

She excitedly maneuvers her way towards Max's house. Prying the back door open, she slides into the mudroom. So far so good. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, she creeps along the edge of the wall. She sees a small table lamp dimly lighting her way when she glances towards the balcony. Taking another deep breath, she cautiously creeps up the old wooden stairs. She's midway to the top when a loose board creaks beneath her feet. Frightened, she moves into the shadows and waits. Once she's satisfied that she didn't disturb him, she climbs the remaining steps.

I'm almost there. She gingerly continues down the long, narrow hallway. I have to be careful, she reminds herself, stepping inside his bedroom door. Taking a deep breath for courage, she carefully walks toward his bed.

She sees Max sleeping peacefully in the bright moonlight. The tranquil image angers her. All her inner turmoil boils to the surface then volcanically erupts. "How dare you sleep so peaceful, so serene, like nothing is wrong." Pulling out a knife, she brings it down hard and quick into Max's bare torso. She feels an immediate release of tension, and anxiety as the knife plunges into his flesh. 

Max is woken by pain surging through his body. Looking up, he sees a tall, thin figure standing over him, a bloody knife raised above their head. Max reaches up and pushes the intruder away.  Max spings out of bed. The covers tangle around his feet hurling him to the floor.

Jumping on top of him, the burglar thrusts her knife deep into his back. "Die bastard, die," she screams, bringing it down again.

Cringing from the pain, Max fumbles under the bed hoping to find something that'd suffice as a weapon. Feeling something cold and hard hit his fingertips, he scoops it up. In one swift motion, he lifts up his dumbells and smashes it into the offender's skull. The individual collapses beside him. Reaching for their nightstand, Max painfully pulls himself up to a standing position. The flimsy table topples over, he grabs an antique chair for support. Max sees his invader unconscious on the floor when he glances back. I have to get out of here. He's hobbling down the hallway when he hears moaning behind him. Max turns to sees the intruder moving around. Grabbing the banister for support, he works his way down the steps.

"Come on, come on, let me out, let me out," he yells, trying to unlock the front door. Throwing the barrier open, he stumbles to the back of their house.

"Go get em, boys," Max commands, opening the metal gate. The two large creatures start barking as they dash towards the front yard.

He remembers their emergency phone in the cellar, Max hobbles across their yard. I'm going to take care of you one way or another. Pulling the wooden door open, he works his way down the dark concrete steps. He feels himself weakening with every passing second. I can do this. Halfway down, his knees buckle underneath him, Max clings to the banister. Just a little further.  Max tries to take another step when his legs give out. Max's bloody body tumbles to the cold dank floor.

***
Realizing her victim has escaped, the intruder dashes after him. Blood is oozing down the side of her head as she runs out the front door. The crisp wind blows against her wet face as coyotes howl in the distance. Shivering, she continues to search the yard. The clouds move away from the moon, making it easier to see. That's much better. She notices a trail of blood when she glances down. You can't hide from me, Max. Smiling, she follows the liquid mass to the side of the house. She just rounded the corner when she's met by four glowing red eyes.

"Oh my God, it's the dogs," she yells, running towards the woods. Looking back, she realizes the mutts are right behind her. Frightened, she picks up speed. The invader feels the dog's sharp fangs brush against her pant leg, she screams. Grabbing a low hanging tree limb, she hoists herself up. The largest dog clamps down on her leg as it swings through the air. Using her other foot, she kicks him loose then pulls herself up to safety.

***
Slowly regaining consciousness, Max looks around. Why am I down here? The night's horrifying events suddenly come to mind. He then notices the pool of red liquid that surrounds him. I need to get help before I bleed to death. Max tries to stand but soon discovers that his legs are too weak to support him. Getting on his hands and knees, he sluggishly crawls across the floor. His pain intensifies with every movement. "I have to do this, for Bonnie and the girls' sake." Gritting his teeth, Max pushes himself a little further. His frail body completely gives out, Max collapses on the floor.

"Please God, please help them find me before it's too late," he cries, lying helplessly on the cold damp floor.

***
Jerry is busy organizing papers that are scattered across his desk. The commotion from the squad room continues all around him.

Glancing around, he sees some officers typing their reports while others are talking to victims. Never a dull moment around this place, he concludes getting back to the task at hand. Jerry has been a cop for nearly ten years, a detective for a little over six.

"I can't understand how my workstation gets so cluttered with just one case." Scooping up a handful of candy wrappers he throws them in the trash. "Well, part of it I can."

Joe, his partner laughs. He's been a detective with this department for nearly fifteen years. He was promoted to Sergeant just last year.

Jerry glances over at his partner's tidy desk. "How do you keep everything so neat?"

"Organization, Jerry, organization." He chuckles.

Jerry is finishing his housekeeping when the phone rings. "Let the fun begin."

"Yeah, fun." Joe reaches for the noisy device. "Berryville Police Department, Sergeant Bower speaking." He puts the phone on speaker.

"Joe, it's Bonnie Webb. I tried calling my husband last night and again when I woke up this morning but he's not answering our home phone, or his cell," she anxiously blurts into the phone. Being a prosecutor's wife for so long, she knows how dangerous his job can be.

"Maybe he's overslept, Mrs. Webb." Bonnie used to take care of him when he was a child.
"I know him, Joe, he never sleeps past seven."

"I'll have my partner check on him." He glances over at Jerry.

Nodding, Jerry grabs his equipment off his desk.

"Have Max call me as soon as he gets there, alright?" He looks at his partner, Jerry nods again.

"He will."

****

Jerry's pulls up to the Webb's Victorian home a few minutes later. Shutting off his car, Jerry glances around. He first notices their gate hanging sideways on a single hinge. He then notices a trail of reddish-brown substance in the dirt. It starts at the busted gate and continues down their drive. "What in the world happened here?" Grabbing his Glock from his holster, he dashes towards the house.

"Is anyone home? Mr. Webb are you here?" There's no answer. The detective cautiously makes his way through the large house. He sees their TV on the entertainment center, a laptop on their kitchen table. It wasn't a robbery, he concludes as he continues to make his rounds. He notices a trail of what looks to be dried blood leading up the stairs. With his gun pointed outward, he slowly follows the stain down the long narrow hall.

"Berryville PD, call out." The house remains eerily silent.

"Mr. Web, Sir?" he questions, stepping through the far bedroom door. He sees bedding crinkled up on the carpet, the end table tipped on its side, broken pictures and other small items are scattered all around it. Quickly checking the rest of their house, Jerry runs out to the porch. Where are you, Max? he asks, anxiously surveying their yard.

****

The sirens screeching in the distance reminds her of the intense battle she had with Max. "That encounter was more of a rush than I could've ever dreamed of." She remembers how good it felt to finally get her revenge. How she watched the blood gush out of his body as she stabed him over and over again. "I wish I could've watched him suffer to his death, the way I'd planned. I guess there's always the next one." Laughing, she walks out her door.
 


Chapter 2
The Children Will Hurt No More

By Mistydawn

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

Chapter 1 Summary
Wanting revenge for all the pain and suffering she endured as a child, she breaks into Max Webb's home and stabs him over and over again.
Max manages to struggle to his cellar, on the brink of death.


Bonnie Webb sees several police cars parked in her driveway when she pulls up to her house. Something did happen to Max. Tearfully jumping out of her van, she runs to the lead detective.

"What's going on, Joe, where's Max, is he hurt?" she asks, anxiously glancing around.

"Don't worry, Mrs. Webb, the dogs will find him soon."

She turns towards Joe with a frightened look on her face. "Why are you using the dogs?"

"They can find him a lot quicker than we can."

"Find him faster? What are you not telling me, Joe, what?" she questions, staring him in the eyes.

Joe looks away. "Nothing, Mrs. Webb."

Bonnie grabs his arm the way she used to when he was in her daycare. "Don't you dare lie to me, Joseph Michael Bower."

"We believe he may be injured, but don't worry, we'll find him soon."

"Injured, oh my god, no, not Max," she cries, clinging on to him for support.

Seeing she's about to collapse, Joe wraps his arms around her. "Don't worry, we'll find him soon."

"I hope so," she sobs. A thought suddenly occurs to her. "Have you checked our cellar?"

"Your cellar?"

"We have emergency equipment down there."

Joe reaches for his radio. "Hey Jerry, Mrs. Webb says we need to check their cellar."

"I have to find him," Bonnie exclaims, shoving Joe out of her way.

Not wanting a hysterical woman on his hands, he quickly steps in front of her. "No, wait here, I'll go."

Joe turns to leave when Jerry's voice echoes on his radio. "He's in their cellar. He's unconscious but breathing, I'm calling an ambulance now."

"He needs me, Joe," she cries, dashing across the yard.

***

Bonnie and Max's oldest daughter, Rachel is anxiously sitting in the waiting room, hoping for some news on his condition.

Rachel moved into Max and Bonnie's home soon after her real mom passed. Bonnie tried to get close to her, make her feel like she's part of their family, but the young girl sabotaged her every attempt. Bonnie understood why, after all, she had to endure. She still hopes they'll be close someday.

"Webbs?" the doctor asks. Springing to their feet, the women run towards him.

"He's one lucky guy," he begins.

Bonnie breathes a huge sigh of relief.

"He sustained several wounds, but they weren't deep enough to cause any internal damages."

"So he can go home?" Bonnie questions, hopefully.

"We'd like to keep him a few days, as a precautionary measure."

"Can we see him?"

"Of course, but I must warn you, he's still groggy from the medicine."

"Come on, honey," Bonnie pulls Rachel's arm.

"No, you go, I'll see him later." Seeing a puzzled look on Bonnie's face, she continues. "You two need to be together."

"Are you sure, honey?"

"Positive, go."

"This way, Mrs. Webb." A nurse leads her down the hall.

Rachel is walking towards the exit when she bumps into a detective.

"I want to talk to your father, see if he remembers anything," Joe quickly explains.

"I doubt if he can help you right now, the doctors have him heavily sedated."

"It's important I talk to him soon, while it's still fresh in his mind. I've already spoken to your mom, briefly at the scene."

"Stepmom," she corrects.

"Right, did she take your sisters to a ballet?" He grabs a small tablet out of his pocket.

"Yeah, my sisters performed last night, as a reward for doing well in their dance class."

"Why didn't your father go?"

"Dad wanted to but something came up at work."

"Do your parents have any marital problems?"

"Are you kidding, someone would think they're newlyweds, the way they carry on."

"Have you ever seen your parents argue?"

"I've seen them disagree over something silly, but they always compromise in the end."

"Like what?" Joe glances up.

"Where they should go eat, what movie to watch. Small, trivial things like that."

"How are your parent's finances?"

"They're doing very well."

"I noticed your stepmom took a part-time job recently."

"It's not because they need the money. Bonnie says she wants to get out of the house, do something while the girls are in school."

"How's your money situation?"

"Mine is alright, I guess. I work full time at the hospital. It's enough to pay bills with a little left over each month. If I really need money, all I have to do is ask dad."

"Would your stepmom stop him?"

"Bonnie no, she'd insist he give me more. She calls the extra mad money. She says every girl needs a little mad money set aside, for a rainy day."

"Can you think of anyone who wants to hurt your father?"

"N .... no, everyone loves dad."

"Has he mentioned receiving any threats, or say anything about hang up calls?"

"No." She fidgets with her clothes.

"If I have any more questions I'll let you know."

Rachel rushes past him.

Is she acting suspicious or is it just me? "There is one more thing."

Stopping in the middle of the hall, she nervously turns around.

"Where were you between midnight and two this morning?"

"At home, in bed." Rachel tenses up.

 "Can anyone verify that?"

"My neighbors can."

"You were alone I take it?"

"Yes, why are you asking me all of these questions?" she anxiously blurts out.

"They're just routine, nothing to worry about."

"Can I go now, I have a lot to do."

"Go."

Rachel races down the hall.

I need to check her alibi. Joe concludes, walking the other way.

***
Bonnie is tearfully holding Max's hand when Joe steps through the door.

"How is he doing, Mrs. Webb?"

"He's sleeping right now. He tried to talk to me when I first came in, but he's so weak he couldn't say more than a few words."

"I imagine it'll take some time to fully recuperate."

"Did you find anything, Joe?"

"Not yet, but we're still looking. I hate to do this to you now, but I have a few more questions I need to ask you."

"I know you're just doing your job."

"You took Jessica and Samantha to a ballet last night, right?"

"Yes, we left after school and didn't come back until this morning."

"Can you confirm your trip?"

"I have a motel and gas receipt." Grabbing her purse, she digs through it.

"Why did you stay in Fayetteville, instead of driving home?"

"Max didn't want me driving those curvy roads tired, so he booked a room for us."

"When did you talk to him last?"

"His daughter, Jessica, called as soon as we got to our room, so I'd say it was around eleven thirty. Here are the receipts." She hands him two small slips of paper.

Glancing at them, he continues, "Did you talk to him?"

"For a few minutes, I told him I'd call back after I got the girls to bed. When he didn't answer, I just assumed he fell asleep."

"Did he act strange, maybe say something abnormal?"

"He acted like his old chipper self."

"Did he mention anyone who's mad at him? Maybe someone threatening to hurt him? Someone he prosecuted recently?"

"No."

"Can you think of any enemies, maybe an old girlfriend, ex-wife?"

"I'm the only girlfriend and wife he's ever had." Noticing his inquisitive look she elaborates. "Max was extremely shy in school."

"Didn't Jennie have his child?" Joe questions, watching her body language closely.

"Their relationship was nothing more than a one night stand. He bumped into her at a party, one thing led to another and well, you know. They both regretted it the next day, never saw each other again. That's why Max was shocked when social services told him he had a daughter."

"Did he tell you this?"

"Him and all of his buddies. I believe them too," she replies defensively. A disturbing thought comes to mind.

"You don't think one of Jennie's old boyfriends tried to kill him, do you?"

"I don't know."

"The police need to be ready for one hell of a killing spree if it was."

"Why do you say that?"

"She changed boyfriends more than most people change ...."

Rachel rushes into the room. "I'm going to pick the girls up from school. Do you want me to bring them here?"

"I don't believe that's a good idea, not in his condition."

"You're probably right." Rachael agrees, looking solemnly at her dad. "What do you want me to tell the girls?"

"Tell them I had an errand to run and that I'll be home soon." 

"You can't go back to your house, it's still a crime scene."

"We don't have anywhere else to go." 

"You can stay at my apartment. It'll be crowded, but we'll make do." Rachel offers.

"Are you sure?"

"It's the least I can do after all you've done for me." 

"I guess it's settled then."

"See you soon," she says,  hugging her stepmom she walks out the door.

I guess my instinct was wrong, Joe concludes, watching their display of affection.

"I stopped when I did because Rachel gets upset everytime we bring up Jennie's name. I'll say one thing about that woman, she put those poor kids through hell."

"Rachel has a sister?"

"No, her cousin, Emma. See, Jennie was supposed to watch Emma for a few minutes but her mom never returned. So Jennie was stuck caring for both girls." Rolling her eyes she continues, " If you can call it that. Some of the horror stories Rachel's told us, I'm surprised they're not in a mental ward."

"Where is Emma now?"

"Last we heard, she's staying with her great aunt and uncle, but that's been years ago."

"Didn't Rachel stay in touch?"

"She did at first, but then Emma stopped writing, Rachel's letters were returned soon after."

"What's Emma's last name?"

"Stone, Emma Stone. I don't have the address, but Rachel might."

"I'll be sure to look into that."

***

She's standing on the roadside pretending to be looking at her car engine. Hearing a vehicle coming towards her, she adjusts her clothes to show more of her well-toned body. Old horny ass will stop for sure, now, she smiles glancing down the road.

"Need some help," Frank asks as he approaches her.

"I don't know what's wrong," she replies.

"Maybe I can figure out your problem." Bending down, he quickly scans the engine.

"This's what's causing your trouble." He reaches under the hood.

In one rapid movement, she slams a crowbar against the back of his skull. His head pings against the engine, then bounces backward, sending him crumpling to the ground. Standing over him, with her knife above her head she yells. "This's to make sure you never hurt anyone again." She thrusts her knife deep into his chest. Pulling it out, she stabs him again. Childhood memories start flooding back, causing rage to build inside her. The more fury that surged through her body, the deeper his wounds became. His warm blood splattered against her hot flesh, giving her erotic gratification. A climax far beyond what she's ever felt in her life. Looking towards the sky, she yells, "This's for you, mama." She stabs his body again.


 


Chapter 3
Killer in our Town

By Mistydawn

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Rachel is heading towards the school when her phone rings. Looking down, she sees the call is from Bonnie. Something's happened to dad. She pulls to the side of the road.

"Hello, Bonnie, is everything alright? I'm heading there now. So you don't want me to pick up the girls? I'll see you at the apartment." Smiling, she hangs up her phone. I can do what I'd planned after all.

***

Jerry has been trying to open his desk drawer for the last ten minutes. Damn thing is probably older than my Great Grandma. He gives it a hard tug. It opens with such force items scatter across the room.

"Just wonderful." 

"That's one way to clean house," the captain laughs.

"The damn drawer got stuck again. Are you sure there isn't another desk, I could use?" Jerry throws stuff inside the container.

"Sorry, Jerry, but all the desks are taken. Look at it this way, you and the furniture have something in common." The Captain smiles.

Jerry knows from experience that he had a wisecrack brewing, so he tries to beat him to the punch. "We're both ancient?"

"No, you're both banged up, and out of shape," he chuckles.

"You're a laugh a minute, Sir."

"This is the real reason I'm here," he says, showing Jerry a piece of paper. "Forensics found hair, tissue, and trace amounts of blood on the barbells."

"Please tell me they found a match."

"Now, that would make the case too easy, wouldn't it?"

"It'd be nice to have an easy case once in a while." He tosses the last of his stuff in the drawer.

"No such luck with this one, I'm afraid."

"Did the lab find any fingerprints on the barbells, or in the house?"

The captain glances at the paper. "Just the family's. The pools of blood are from Max too."

"No witnesses, no leads, we're at a dead end."

"Start searching his relationships, see what you can find."

"Yes, Sir."

The captain starts to walk away when another thought occurs to him. "Oh, and Jerry, look into his case files, see who he's convicted lately."

"I'll get right on that." He's typing Max's name into the computer when his phone rings.

"Police Department, Jerry speaking." Putting the phone on speaker, he continues typing.

"I believe I might have something, Jerry. Rachel's cousin Emma Stone lived at Jennie's, from the age of four until the girls were taken away. So I need you to locate Emma."

"I'll see what I can find, Boss."

***

Rachel is standing under her shower scouring layers of grime off her pale, thin body. A terrible aroma drifts through the air, making her stomach churn with fury. She knows all of this unpleasantness will be worth it in the end.

With everything I've accomplished today my project will be complete in no time. I can only imagine the look on their faces when they find out what I've done. Smiling, she steps onto the cold tile. Glancing down, she notices the stained clothes lying by her feet. I need to figure out how I can get rid of them where they can't be traced to me. I know, I'll put them in a trash bag and throw them in the hospital dumpster. Grabbing the soiled wardrobe by her fingertips, she heads towards the door. Hearing keys rattling in the hall, she runs back to the bathroom. Where am I going to hide these? She notices the small linen closet beside her when she anxiously looks around. That'll work for now. Placing her dirty garments in the far corner, she grabs clothes from her hamper and throws them on top. They'll never find them now. She starts to get dressed when her neighbor's door squeaks open. Guess that wasn't Bonnie after all. She glances at the closet. I'll leave the clothes be, for now.

***

Joe is heading towards the station when the dispatcher's voice blares across his radio. There's another murder already? He makes a quick U-turn, creating an explosion of dust. I need to roll up my window before I pull another stunt like that. Coughing, he watches a massive layer of dust fall across the car's frayed interior. Wiping the dirt from his phone, he calls the station.

"Jerry, this is Joe, I just heard about the murder on Murphy road." Joe coughs into his phone. Putting it on speaker, he grabs the bottle of water and takes a quick swig.

"Are you alright, Boss?"

"I will be, once this dust settles." Joe gulps more water.

"Dust, Sir?"

"You don't want to know."

Jerry recalls how frightened he was the last time he rode with Joe. "I probably don't." Chuckling, he continues, "I'll meet you there." Grabbing his jacket off the chair, Jerry heads towards the door.

***

She carefully scans her to do list. She didn't want to go to her next attack unprepared, the way she did with Max.

That senseless mistake almost turned deadly. I'm not willing to pay that high price, not yet anyhow. There are still too many perverts out roaming the streets. Deviants I swore I'd kill as a child. Making a mental list, she slides the paper into her purse.

"My fun is just getting started." Laughing, she pulls onto the highway.

***

The forensic team is carrying out their assigned tasks when Joe arrives on scene. Now that's what I like to see. Smiling, he walks towards his team.

"Hi, Sergeant," Kirk says. Kirk has been with the team for nearly ten years. His meticulous manner makes him one of the most sought-after technicians on the force.

"What do you have for me?" Joe asks, shaking the young officer's hand.

"The victim is Frank Walsh. The apparent cause of death is thirty-three stab wounds to his chest. Mr. Crandall said he found him lying alongside his truck."

"What's the approximate time of death?"

"Riga mortis hasn't set in, so I'd say it happened within the last three hours." He follows the sergeant through the crime scene.

Joe squats down by the blood splatter.

"We've already taken samples," he says, stepping around the pool of dark liquid surrounding the victim.

Joe notices tire marks in the dirt.

"There's fresh oil over here." Kurt points to the middle of the lot.

"Our killer must've been waiting a while. I want you to photograph, then cast the tire tracks and take a sample of oil too." Joe instructs, continuing to walk through the scene.

"We have, we photographed and cast the footprints too."

"Did you find anything else?"

"No, Sir, but we're still looking."

"So tell me about the victim?" Stopping, he turns towards Kirk.

"He's married, has three grown daughters, works second shift at Tysons." 

"Do you know who he hangs out with, his habits?"

"Patrol said they've only spotted his truck at work, home, and the bar."

"Are there any witnesses?"

"Just the poor fellow who found him." Kirk points to a shaken man standing in front of his car.

"Let's go see what he has to say."

***

Jerry hears the captain call his name as he heads towards the door. Turning, he sees his boss rushing towards him.

"The search on Emma Stone came back."

"Does it have anything useful?"

"According to this, she lived with her Aunt and Uncle until her kidnapping and her Uncle's murder four years ago."

"Kidnapping and murder," the detective exclaims.

"Yes, the killer stabbed her Uncle thirty-three times and then kidnapped Emma."

"Did the cops ever catch the culprit?"

"No, and Emma's body was never found."

"Are there any witnesses or leads?"

The captain glances down at the paper. "There are leads, but no witnesses."

"Where was the Aunt when this was going on?"

"According to the police report, she was visiting a sick relative in Virginia. Here, take a look for yourself." The captain hands him the file.

"How many wounds did Max have, Captain?"

"Thirty-three, I believe."

"Both victims being stabbed the same amount of times can't be a coincidence." Plopping down at his desk, he runs his fingers through his thinning hair. Something he often does when he's in deep thought. "I'm going to send a request for the entire file, see if I can find a connection."

"I'll make a few calls, try to speed up the process." The captain rushes to his office.

Jerry is scanning the report when his phone rings.

"Jerry, this is Joe, I need a little history on our new victim."

"Who is it, Boss?" He grabs a pen and paper off his cluttered desk.

"It's Frank Walsh; someone stabbed him a few hours ago, on Murphy Road. I want you to find out everything you can about him."

"Did the ME say how many times he was stabbed?"

"She counted thirty-three wounds, why?"

"Max and Emma's Uncle was stabbed thirty-three times too."

"Someone killed Emma's Uncle?"

"Four years ago and kidnapped the girl. I think there might be a connection, so I'm having the file faxed to us now."

"Keep me posted."

"I will."

Trading his cell phone for his computer, the detective gets to work.

***

The killer sees her next victim walking to his car when she pulls into the parking lot. That's what you call perfect timing. Smiling, she pulls in beside him.

"Hey, Lenny, whatcha doing?" she asks, walking towards him.

He suddenly recalls how their last conversation turned violent. She would've killed me if it hadn't been for my friend. "What do you want?" he stammers, nervously backing away.

"I stopped by to say hi, see what you've been up to lately."

She's going to finish me off. "I'm warning you, you better leave me alone." He backs up, running into the wall. 

She steps closer, pinning him against the barrier. "Can't go anywhere, can you?"

"N .... no." He anxiously glances around.

"How does it feel to be a helpless victim, huh? Tell me, how does this feel?" she screams, pressing her body against him.

"N .... not good."

"This is how I felt every night you snuck into my room."

"I'm sorry."

"Yeah, I bet you're sorry. My life is ruined, all because of you." Grabbing a knife out of her pocket, she holds it against his neck, blood trickles onto the blade.

"I didn't mean to hurt you," he weakly replies, tears streaming down his face.

"Well, you did." She pushes the knife in deeper. "I want you to remember this the next time you think about raping a little girl."

"I will."

"I know you will." Shoving the blade into his neck, she pulls it across. Blood spews out of his body as she cuts into his flesh. 
 


Chapter 4
Possible Motives

By Mistydawn

List of Characters. 
Max Webb DA, Rachel, Jessica, and Samatha's dad, Bonnie's husband.
Bonnie Webb Jessica and Samantha's mom, Rachel's stepmom
Rachel Webb Nurse at the hospital. Max and Jeanie's daughter, Jessica's and Samatha's half-sister.
Samantha Webb Max and Bonnie's six-year-old daughter
Jessica Webb Max and Bonnie's 8-year-old daughter.
Jeanie - Rachel's mom
Emma Stone Rachel's cousin.
Joe detective with the Berryville PD
Jerry Detective with the Berryville PD
Kurt forensic analyst with the Berryville PD.

Rachel is sitting on the couch in her small cozy apartment, staring out the window. Seeing a patrol car slowly pass by, she glances at her watch. It was a half an hour on the dot again. I'll wait until the coast is clear, then I'll slip out and take care of business, she concludes, staring into the cold empty darkness. I hope I can remember all the loose floorboards. What if I don't? What if I hit one by mistake? How will I explain my leaving if they catch me? I could say I'm meeting my boyfriend. Would they believe me? I probably wouldn't if I were them. Maybe I should just wait until Bonnie and the girls leave. No, I've planned this for way too long, I've gotten too far to quit now. If I get caught, I'll have to quit for good, and I don't want to do that either. Not after all the time and energy, I've invested in this project. Oh, what should I do? What should I do? Feeling someone tugging on her arm, she turns around. She sees her little sister standing beside her.

"Can you read me a bedtime story?" Samantha asks.

"What book would you like me to read?"

"We could make something up," she suggests.

"Are you sure you'll be alright sleeping on the couch?" Bonnie asks, carrying fresh linen into the front room.

"I sleep on the couch all the time anyhow."

"Why, Rachel?" Sammy questions.

"Rachel is a naughty girl. She falls asleep in front of the TV." Bonnie scolds, shaking her finger at Rachel.

"Maybe you should spank her or take away her TV privileges," the child says, excited to see someone else get into trouble for a change.

"Yeah, maybe I should." Bonnie laughs, imagining how that would go.

"I thought you had my back, Samantha Jane."

"I'm just teasing," she smiles sweetly, batting her long eyelashes at her sister.

"You better be you little monster." Rachel chases the child into the bedroom.

The girl screams as she runs for cover.

"I don't think Rachel will ever grow up." Bonnie laughs, laying linen on the couch.

***

Jerry is scanning through Frank Walsh's police record at his desk. Joe, his partner is still busy at the scene. Frank had a breaking and entering charge at 18, a drug possession charge at 20 and again at 22. His most recent charges are two DWI's, and a driving on a suspended. Far from a model citizen. He continues his search. According to his finances, he lives paycheck to paycheck, the way most Berryville citizens do. I hope he has life insurance to help pay for the funeral. Life insurance money, that's it. Desperate wives do make reckless decisions.

Digging a little further, he finds a $50,000 life insurance policy on him, but nothing on his wife. Thirty years is a long time to put up with his partying with the town whores. Not to mention all the other shenanigans he pulled. Guess I need to talk to Judy and their kids. He starts to get up when he sees Joe walking towards him.

"Did you find anything, Jerry?" Joe asks, plopping down at his desk.

"He had a few minor convictions as a teenager, two DWI's and a driving on a suspended recently. Financially he was a sinking ship. Here's the interesting part. The couple is deep in debt, but Judy somehow manages to pay his life insurance policy, on time, every month. In fact, she dropped her policy, but kept his up to date."

"That puts a twist on things, now doesn't it?" he says, arranging forensic reports across his desk.

"It sure does. I don't know how she put up with his crap for as long as she did."

"Isn't that the truth? Did you find out anything on Emma?"

"She was placed in Mrs. Brown's care until the aunt and uncle came for her. So I'm thinking, Mrs. Brown might've kept in touch."

"Knowing how much she loves her foster kids, I wouldn't doubt that a bit."

"Here's something fascinating Joe. Frank's former drug arrest was on May 10, 1999, with Jennie Cathay."

"So?"

"Didn't Max know Jennie too?" Pulling up another tab, he types in a new search. "Here's another interesting fact. Jennie made a plea agreement with the DA, her testimony for a reduced sentence. Two days later, she's found dead in an alley."

"What's the cause of death?"

"The ME ruled it as a drug overdose."

"I remember her death now. I was a rookie back then so I didn't get to investigate, but I always thought someone was trying to keep her quiet. A lot of others did too, but no one could prove it was murder."

"Whoever killed Jennie could be getting revenge on everyone who snitched on him."

"Look up drug arrests made after May 1999, see what you can come up with. I'll talk to Frank's wife and Mrs. Brown."

"Got it, boss."

The captain races out of his office.

"Guys, there's been another killing."

"This is the third one in two days, Captain," Jerry exclaims.

"I'm not so sure it's the same killer."

"Why do you say that, Sir?"

"This one was beheaded."

****

The hands on the clock seem to move slowly tonight. Looking over, Rachel sees it's only been five minutes since the last time she checked. Will this night ever end? Glancing out her window, she starts thinking about what she's going to do. This gives her a sense of pure joy. The way she feels on Christmas day. Nothing is going to stop me from executing my plan this time. She sees another patrol car drive by. It's only been ten minutes since the last one. Maybe I should wait until things settle down. 

"Rachel, Rachel?" her stepmother repeats.

"Huh, what?" she asks, slowly coming out of her trance-like state.

"You were a thousand miles away."

"Oh, I'm sorry." She turns to face her.

"You've been distracted all night, are you sure you're alright?" Reaching over, she grabs a hold of her hands.

"Yeah, I'm ok, I was just thinking, you know about stuff," she explains, forcing a smile on her face. She knows how her stepmother gets if she thinks something is bothering her.

"What were you thinking about, Honey?" Bonnie quizzes, sitting next to her on the couch.

"Work stuff, mostly."

"Are you having trouble at the hospital?"

"A little. See, they hired a new girl and she's been giving me a lot of grief." Seeing the concerned look on Bonnie's face she continues, "I'm sure things will calm down once she settles in." 

"I hope so."

"It always does." She smiles, hoping to appease her. 

Picking up the newspaper Bonnie starts to read. "Oh my God, Rachel, look." Handing it to her Bonnie continues. "It says they found Frank Walsh dead this afternoon."

"Two victims in twenty-four hours?"

"I'm sure glad Joe agreed to put the extra patrol on your apartment."

"Me too." Their safety wasn't her concern. She's trying to figure out how she'll continue her plans with all the police protection.

***

Joe and Jerry see Sharon, their ME walking towards her car when they pull into the parking lot.

Joe removes his seatbelt as they pull into the drive. "I didn't think we'd ever get here," he complains, bolting out of the car.

"I got us here in one piece, didn't I?" Jerry maneuvers his rounded body out from behind the wheel.

"An hour later."

Jerry laughs. "It didn't take an hour."

 "It sure felt like it."

"And you say Rachel is a drama queen?" 

 "She is."

"Yeah, and I'm the queen of England." Jerry chuckles.

 "I'm driving back, whether you like it or not."

"You better find another car then, because you're not touching mine."

"You don't trust my driving, Jerr?" He smirks, remembering how Jerry hung on for dear life on their last excursion.

"My niece drives better than you and she's only four."

Laughing, Joe walks towards the ME. "Hey, Sharon."

"Hi Joe, Jerry."

"What can you tell us?"

"The victim was beheaded with a straight edged blade. According to the cut, I'd say your killer is left-handed."

"Are there any other wounds?"

"Just the fatal one across his neck. The good news is the victim didn't suffer."

"How do you figure that?"

"He bled out too quick to feel much of anything." Seeing the inquisitive look on their faces she continues, "The killer severed the carotid, one of the main arteries in the body."

"So the perp would be covered in blood."

"Head to toe I'd imagine."

"When did the death occur?"

"According to body temp, I'd say within the last two hours."

"Thanks, Sharon." Joe walks towards the group.

"Did you find anything, guys?" Joe asks.

"I found a couple of things, Sir. We found a shoe print in the dirt a few feet from the victim, and we found this." Holding up a small plastic bag he continues, "I'm going to take the fiber to the lab, see what I can find."

"Who is our victim?"

"According to his driver's license, his name Is Lenard Kanjorski, He's forty-two, lives in the apartments on Cherry Street."

"You guys don't know him personally?" Being a small town, Joe figures everyone knows everybody. An assumption that usually holds true.

The group shakes their heads.

"Jerry, I want you to contact the family, and find out everything you can on him."

"I'm on it, Sir." Jerry walks away.

***

Rachel slowly creeps down her dark apartment steps, trying to miss all the squeaky floorboards.
Just a few more steps and I will be home free, she reasons. Her legs feel like jelly as she continues her nerve-wracking journey down the rickety stairs. Gripping the railing, she tiptoes the rest of the way down. Everyone will be so surprised when I share my accomplishments. She smiles, stepping into the brisk night air.
 


Chapter 5
Eliminating Suspects

By Mistydawn

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

List of Characters. 
Max Webb DA, Rachel, Jessica, and Samatha's dad, Bonnie's husband.
Bonnie Webb Jessica and Samantha's mom, Rachel's stepmom
Rachel Webb Nurse at the hospital. Max and Jeanie's daughter, Jessica's and Samatha's half-sister.
Samantha Webb Max and Bonnie's six-year-old daughter
Jessica Webb Max and Bonnie's 8-year-old daughter.
Jeanie - Rachel's mom
Emma Stone Rachel's cousin.
Joe detective with the Berryville PD
Jerry Detective with the Berryville PD
Kurt forensic analyst with the Berryville PD.

Joe pulls up to an old rundown trailer on the outskirts of town. I can't believe it's still standing. He remembers the terrible shape it was in when he was a child. Looking around, he sees acres of unused terrain. If they sold some of this off they could get rid of that death trap, move into something a lot nicer. The stench of skunk spray knocks him over when he climbs out of the car. There's nothing like the smell of good old country air, he chuckles, walking towards the house.

Joe truly understands why Judy might do it. She's lived in a rundown, bug-infested trailer for nearly thirty years, a place that should've been condemned years ago. He knows she constantly worries about the roof caving in, or someone falling through the rotten floorboards.

Of course, Frank only increases her anxiety. He comes home in a pissed off, drunken state and takes his anger out on her. If he isn't causing havoc in the trailer, he's out drinking up their income with the town whores.

Joe sympathizes with her circumstances and knows it'll break his heart if he has to throw her in jail. Judy's been like a second mom to me and now I might have to arrest her. Joe stops in the middle of the yard. I can't do this, I just can't. Not after all she's been through, after all she's done for me. He turns towards the car. Reaching the door he pauses again. I can't let my personal feelings get in the way of my job, no matter how bad it hurts. He tearfully walks towards the house.

Judy steps out of the trailer, her arms loaded down with dog bowls. Her graying hair is a tangled mess and her clothes are mere shreds of faded fabric.

She takes better care of her animals than herself.

"Hi, Joe," she says, carefully walking down the wobbly steps.

"Here, let me help you." He takes a few bowls from the top.

"Thanks." Walking over to the picnic table she sets them down.

Joe follows behind her. "How are you holding up?"

"I'm trying to stay busy. You know, keep my mind off of things but it doesn't seem to be helping." She wipes tears from her mascara-streaked face.

"I'm sorry for your loss."

She reaches over and pats his hand. "You've always been my favorite, you know." She smiles weakly.

Why did she have to say that? Joe thinks, feeling worse than ever about what he has to do. Put your big boy pants on and just do it. His Mama would scold when he dawdled over something he didn't want to do. I know Mama. Taking a deep breath, he turns to face her. "Judy, I hate to do this to you now but I need to ask you a few questions. They're routine, so please don't be upset by them, alright?"

She looks towards the ground, tears streaming down her face. "His death has been really hard on me, Joe."

Joe feels his heart split in two. "I know it has and I wouldn't ask you if it wasn't important."

"Go ahead then." Sniffling, she dries her face with a shredded tissue.

"Does he have any enemies, someone who wants to harm him?"

"I can't think of anyone but God knows who he might've pissed off when he's out there doing his thing." She points towards town.

So far so good. "Has he received any threats?"

"Not that I'm aware of." She sniffles.

Just a few questions to go. "Did you or Frank receive any hang-up calls?"

"Yeah, but I figured it's one of his girlfriends, wanting to talk to him."

Joe gets a surprised look on his face. "So you're aware of his affair."

"Yes, but I loved him anyhow, I loved him anyhow," she sobs.

Joe wants to hold her, tell her everything will be alright the way she did him as a child but knows he has a job to do. Just a couple more questions and this nightmare will be over. "I noticed you have a life insurance policy on him, but stopped paying yours months ago."

"I dropped mine because money is a little tight," she says, wiping her face again.

"So the life insurance money would be a blessing?"

"Not really, see I dropped it to ten thousand last month. It'll take care of the funeral, but that's about all," she sniffles.

Joe nervously moves around. Just say it and get it over with, he reasons, suddenly feeling uncomfortable in his own skin."Can someone verify your whereabouts Monday afternoon between noon and two?"

"I'm a school teacher, so you can ask any of my coworkers where I was. Wait a minute, are you accusing me of killing my husband?"

"They're routine questions ...."

"How can you stand there and blame me for his death, Joe? After everything, I've done for you. Why I practically raised you from birth." She shoves him as hard as she can. "I can't believe you, Joe, I ...I just can't," she cries, storming towards the house.

"I'm sorry Judy, I really am."

She spins back around. "I admit he isn't the best husband in the world, but I loved him, Joe. I truly loved him," she yells, stomping up the steps.

"He was a lucky man to have you," Joe shouts, as the screen door slams shut behind her. He slowly walks towards the car, tears streaming down his cheeks. She'll never forgive me now, never. Wiping the tears from his face he turns back around. I'm so sorry Judy, so sorry, he sobs, Climbing into his car. How could I possibly believe such a soft-hearted person, who cares for every stray in the city be capable of such a horrendous crime? Glancing at the trailer one last time, he drives away.

***

She anxiously sits in the bar parking lot, waiting for her next victim. He's next on her list because not only did he hurt her as a young child, he tried to rape her a few short months ago.

~~

It was a cold wintery night, temp in the single digits. The strong gusts of wind made it seem much colder. Looking up she sees heavy storm clouds covering most of the moon. That's why it's so spooky tonight. Wrapping her arms around herself she continues down the road. The damn car would have to die on me now. Hopefully, someone at the bar can fix it, or give me a lift home. She hears something rustling beside her. Screaming, she runs towards the bar. I don't know what that was, but it sure scared the hell out of me. Composing herself, she starts climbing the steps. Halfway up, lard ass, Bernie stumbles out the door.

"Hey pretty lady, do you want to have some fun?" he slurs, weaving back and forth in front of her. Feeling himself about to fall, he grabs the handrail for support. A putrid mix of alcohol, body odor, and dried piss drifts through the air.

"No thank you." Clamping her nose, she tries to go around his large hairy physique.

He steps in front of her. "Oh come on honey, I promise I'll be gentle," he grabs her arm.

"Leave me alone," she yells, trying to wiggle away from his grip. The horrid smell makes her nauseous as she struggles to break free.

Angered by her rejection, he grabs a hold of both arms and pulls her towards him. "Do you think you're too good for me? Huh, do you? Well, I have news for you. You're nothing but a two-bit whore just like your mother," he hisses, shoving her down the steps.

A loud whoosh of air expels from her lungs as her body bounces across the dirt.

Pulling out his hardened appendage, Bernie walks towards her.

"No, please, don't," she cries, scooting away from him.

Grabbing her hair he shoves her face into his crotch. "You know what I want." He smiles. The bar door opens, Bernie turns around.

"What are you doing?" a deep voice asks.

Humiliated, Bernie stuffs his penis in his pants, she scampers to the woods.

~~~

The blast of music brings her back to reality. There you are, you drunken bastard. Lifting up her crowbar, she takes her stance. A little further, that's it, one more step. "Hey Bernie, do you remember me?" she asks, springing out of the bushes.

Hearing a woman's voice he turns around. "Why don't you refresh my memory, sweet thing?" Smiling, he stumbles closer.

"You tried to rape me a few months ago." In one swift movement, she smashes the crowbar against his skull, he falls to the ground.

"Not mighty now, are you?" She laughs. Straddling him, she plunges the knife into his body. Blood spews on her with every thrust making the killing more gratifying. "Don't mess with little girls, because they grow up to become cold heartless bitches," she screams, stabbing him again. Grabbing a hold of his pecker she looks up at the sky. "This one's for you mamma." She slices off his manhood.


 


Chapter 6
Harsh Reality

By Mistydawn

Max sleeps soundly in his small hospital bed. The cold sterile room is quiet except for the small hum coming from the IV beside him. A dim light glows just above the sink, giving his nurse enough light to carry out her menial tasks.

That's what I like to see, Melinda smiles approaching his bedside. She's been a nurse for ten years, the last five in ICU. She hopes to continue her career until she retires. Doing quick checks on the machines, she walks out of the room. She no sooner steps into the hall when Max starts thrashing around.

"No, Rachel, please stop, please, you're hurting me," he begs, tossing back and forth in the bed.

Hearing his desperate pleas, Melinda runs to his side. "Mr. Webb, Mr. Webb wake up, Sir?" she says, gently shaking him.

Max sees a pretty young woman dressed in white when he opens his eyes. Terrified, he springs up in bed. "Who are you, where am I, what happened?" he blurts out, anxiously scanning the room.

"I'm Melinda, your nurse. You're at Carroll Regional Hospital. Someone stabbed you at your house. The police found you and brought you here."

He turns his head towards her, a dumbfounded look on his face, trying to grasp what she just said. His cheeks turn ghostly white. "Where are my wife and kids, are they alright?"

"Mrs. Webb and the kids are at home, Sir."

"Are they alright?" He presses, worried there's something she's not telling him.

"Yes, Sir, they're fine, the intruder didn't get them."

"Thank God for that," he says. Relieved he lies back down.

Melinda straightens the crumpled linen. "Your wife has been with you all day. She planned on spending the night, but the doctor insisted she go home, get some rest. She told me to tell you she loves you and she'll be back first thing in the morning."

That's my Bonniekins. "I bet she'll be back before daylight," Max chuckles. "Oh that hurt," he says, wrapping his arms around his middle.

"The intruder did a number on you, so I imagine you'll be sore for quite some time."

He glances towards his abdomen. Seeing it's wrapped heavily in bandages, he anxiously asks, "How bad am I hurt?"

"You have several superficial wounds, but the doctors did a marvelous job, so you should be good as new in no time." Should I tell Mr. Webb about his heart condition or let the doctor explain it to him in the morning? She decides on the latter.

"Will I be able to dance?" Max asks, an ornery smile on his face. He's known to be quite the joker.

"I don't see why not, once you're healed, of course." Within reason.

"That's good because I never could before."

"Aren't you a humorous one," she laughs. Fluffing his pillows she continues, "That must have been some nightmare for you to thrash around like that."

"I guess."

"You don't remember your dream?" She places the pillow behind his head.

"No." He knew exactly what it was but didn't want to say anything just yet. Not until he could wrap his head around the harsh reality.

"You were screaming don't hurt me, Rachel."

His face turns pale. "Oh." How am I going to explain that? I'll say it was just a meaningless nightmare, a figment of my imagination, that I've been worried about Rachel a lot lately. They'll believe me, right?

"Do you know anyone named Rachel?" she asks, checking his IV.

"A few, but I don't see any of them hurting me. I'd like to get a little more sleep if you don't mind." He turns away from her.

"Of course, if you need anything, let me know, alright."

"I will."

Turning off the overhead light, Melinda steps out of the room.

Was the intruder really Rachel? Why would she try to hurt me after all these years? I've been a good father, haven't I? I brought her into my home, gave her everything she needed. I know that doesn't erase all the hell she's been through, but I tried to make it up to her, I really did.

He remembers their long conversation explaining what Jennie had said. I thought she believed me about Jennie's lies, telling me Rachel isn't mine. Maybe she only said she did to appease me. What should I do about the current situation? As her father, I want to protect her, despite what she's done to me, but as an officer of the court, it's my duty to see that justice is done. If I do the latter she'll end up in prison, and I don't want my daughter behind bars. Not after barely surviving a horrendous childhood. What am I going to do, what am I going to do? He sobs into his pillow.

***
Jerry is sitting at his desk reading the history of their last victim. Pulling an all-nighter is a part of the job I hate. He glances down at a picture on his desk. I'm doing this for you guys. He carefully touches their smiling faces.

Jerry has been a cop for nearly ten years, a detective for five. He decided to switch from a military career to law enforcement after his wife and daughter were killed in a drive-by. "I want to make sure other families don't have to go through what we have." He tearfully explains when questioned about his change in careers.

Yawning, he picks up a piece of paper from his cluttered desk. Yawning again, he grabs his cup and gulps the last of the cold bitter mix. Yawning for the third time, he glances towards the picture. I have to do this for them. Rubbing his dry, tired eyes, he starts reading again.

"Why don't you call it a day, Jerr, get a fresh start in the morning," Joe suggests.

"I'll be alright in a minute, Boss." He walks to the coffee pot. "Want some?" Jerry lifts up the pot.

"I've had all I can take of that gut-wrenching shit," he says, holding his stomach.

Jerry laughs. "Suit yourself, Boss." He watches with admiration as Joe works on a report. I wouldn't be here right now if he hadn't done what he did.

Jerry went into a deep depression after his family was killed. The doctor told Joe he's going through a grieving process and that he'll eventually work through it. Joe knew he had to do something when it went on for months.

~~~

"OK, Jerry, enough is enough," Joe says, stomping towards the couch.

"Leave me alone, Joe." Jerry pulls the covers over his head.

"So you're just going to give up like some yellow-bellied coward?"

"I have nothing left to live for, Joe," Jerry sobs.

"You have me."

"That's a big comfort," he says, rolling on his side.

"I didn't want to do this but you've left me no choice." Joe jerks the cover away.

"Leave me the hell alone, Joe," Jerry hisses, reaching for a filthy sheet.

Joe snatches it away. "You have ten seconds to get off this couch."

"If I don't?" he asks, crossing his arms in protest.

"I'll dump this bucket of ice water on you." He lifts up the large container. 

Jerry glances at the pail then back at Joe."You better not."

"Eight, seven, six," he counts, a stern look on his face.

"I'll kill you if you do," Jerry warns.

"At least you'll be out of bed. Four, three, two." Joe tips the bucket.  a large drop of water splashes Jerry's face.

"Please don't, Joe, please," he begs.

"Get up and I won't."

Jerry looks at the bucket then back at Joe.

"I warned you." Joe dumps the frigid liquid on him.

Screaming, Jerry jumps off the couch. "You're a dead man now, Joe."

"You have to catch me first." Tossing the bucket aside, Joe darts down the hall.

Filling the bucket with cold tap water, Jerry runs after him. "I'm going to get you for this," he screams.

Their chase continues until both men are soaked, exhausted, and gasping for much-needed air.

"I haven't had that hard of a workout since our military days," Joe says, wringing out his shirt.

"Me either." Jerry laughs, feeling completely ridiculous.

"Now we've showered and exercised, let's eat." Joe waves his hand above the array of foods.

~~~~

That man saved my life.

"What are you working on, Jerry?"

"I pulled up Vinnie's work history. According to the records, he was Mrs. Brown's maintenance man for nearly twenty years."

"I thought he was a registered sex offender?"

"He was, but somehow he got by with working close to children."

"Someone was sleeping on the job."

"That's for sure, Boss. What I don't understand is why Mrs. Brown would allow someone like him near her children." He scratches his head, something he often does when he's deep in thought. Joe teases him about it, says he's trying to jumpstart his withering brain. Realizing what he's doing, Jerry self-consciously drops his hand.

Joe snickers. "Maybe she didn't know."

"That's possible I guess. Here's something interesting, Boss, Frank Walsh is on the list too."

"Yeah, but Max isn't."

"True."

"Since we can't do anything else, why don't we call it a day, get a fresh start in the morning."

"I'm alright, Boss, honest." His eyes start watering trying not to yawn.

"I saw you dozing off a few minutes ago."

"I'm alright now." Feeling another one coming on, he turns away.

"Jerry."

"Yes, Boss?" he mumbles through his yawn.

"As your superior, I'm ordering you to the bunks."

Jerry stomps his foot.

"Don't make me write you up."

"Yes, Boss." He trudges towards the back.

Jerry acts like such a child sometimes. Snickering, Joe walks out the door.


Chapter 7
Three Tears for Bernie

By Mistydawn

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

Authors Note
Anything between ~~~ is a past memory. 
Anything between *** is the next scene.

Joe wakes up to his cell phone buzzing angrily beside him. Sleepily fumbling around the nightstand, he scoops it up.

"This better be important," he barks into his phone.

"Sergeant, it's Jerry, there's been another killing."

"What?" Springing out of bed he grabs his clothes off the floor.

"Bernie Walters was found stabbed to death at Frank's bar. I'm heading there now."

"I'm on my way." Putting down his phone, Joe gets dressed. I can't believe the killer struck so soon. Combing his fingers through his graying hair, Joe bolts out the door.

***

Joe arrives at Frank's bar within a few minutes. Some officers are interviewing patrons, while others secure the area.

Glancing over he sees Kirk making his initial video while the photo technician snaps still pictures of the scene. That kid may work out after all.

Looking around, Joe sees the distraught owner sitting on the bar steps. His eyes are red and swollen. He has tears streaming down his tan face.
Bernie was a good old boy, always willing to lend a helping hand, for a few beers, of course.

~~~

"Hey Bernie, I have an ice-cold six-pack sitting in my fridge with your name on it," Joe says, walking out to greet him.

"What do you want me to do?" he questions suspiciously.

"Mow my yard."

Gazing across the overgrowth, Bernie shakes his head. That shit has to be at least a foot tall. "Make it a twelve pack and you've got a deal."

~~~

He swindled me out of two twelves that day, claiming he needs one just to cool down. Snickering, Joe walks towards the owner.

"What happened, Pete?" Joe asks, taking a notebook out of his pocket.

"I'm not exactly sure. One minute Bernie is leaving and the next he's dead." He wipes the moisture from his face.

"What time did he leave?"

"He finished his last beer around midnight, ten minutes later, Greg runs in yelling he's dead. I ran out to see if there's anything I could do, but it was too late. Damn allergies are acting up again," he says, blowing his nose.

Joe smiles, he knows Pete tries to act tough, but he's a gentle soul. "Did he leave with anyone?"

"Bernie flirts all evening, but always leaves alone."

"He's married to Pam, correct?"

"They married right out of high school. Oh no, there's no way she did this. Pam faints if she sees a drop of blood."

"I remember." Joe laughs, recalling her passing out over a nosebleed.

***

Leaning against the wall, Greg starts thinking about Bernie. We had a lot of fun together, and a lot of heated debates. He snickers through his tears.

~~~

"Would you just listen to me for a second," Bernie says, jumping up from his seat. Throwing his beer can into the water, he grabs another. Their boat rocks from his sudden movement.

"Why don't you sit your drunken ass down, before you tip us into the lake," Greg suggests, glancing at the murky water.

"I won't sit down until you listen to what I have to say." He stomps his foot. Their boat wobbles again.

"Damn it, Bernie, you seriously need to sit down before ...."

Bernie loses his balance. His rounded body hits the side, toppling them into the water.

~~~

Saving his lard ass was worse than wrestling a pissed gator on steroids, he snickers. God, I'm going to miss him.

"Are you the one who found him?" Jerry asks, walking towards Greg.

"Yes," he looks towards the ground.

"Did you touch him or move him in any way?"

"l I tripped over him, going to my truck. It was so dark I didn't see him lying there."

"Do you remember seeing anyone in the parking lot?"

"No, but it's so dark I couldn't see far."

"Did you hear a car pull away?"

"No."

"Can you think of someone that would want to kill him?"

"Everyone loves Bernie. He's a happy go lucky, easy going kind of guy, a true pal to all of us." His lips begin to quiver as he tries to keep from crying.

"Does he have any exes ex-wife or girlfriend?"

"He married his wife years ago. As soon as they finished high school, I believe."

"Hey, detective, I found something," Kirk says, walking towards them.

"What did I tell you about transference?" Jerry questions, annoyed by his repetitive mistake.

The young lad hangs his head. "Running in and out of the crime scene can cause evidence to be lost, and bring something in that wasn't originally there."

"Exactly."

Kirk turns around.

Jerry grabs his arm. "You might as well show me since you're already here."

"The killer used this to smash Bernie's head." He holds up a pink crowbar.

"That's Bernie's, he painted it pink so that no one will steal it," Greg says.

"Is there a reason why it'd be out?"

"He used it to fix Karen's flat earlier this evening."

"How is Karen's and Bernie's relationship?"

"She loves Bernie, in a sisterly kind of way.  Bernie is like a brother to all of us. He's a little slow on the uptake, but we love him just the same."

"Where is Karen now?"

"She's probably in the bar cleaning up, restocking, things like that."

"Thank you," Jerry heads toward the front door.

This's a charming place, Jerry thinks, inhaling the strong smell of cedar. He first notices how the lighting from the fireplace and oil lanterns give the bar a luminous glow.

He then sees the couches and chairs. Chess tables are in the far corner, instead of standard dart boards. His entire decor makes you feel like you're stepping into a friend's cabin, rather than a bar.

"You have a nice place here, Pete."

"Thanks."

"I'm looking for Karen, is she still here?" Jerry glances around.

"She's in the storage room. Can I help you with something?"

"I heard you're looking for me?" Karen drops a large box on the bar, bottles clink together.

"Bernie fixed a flat for you tonight, correct?"

"Yes, he always does nice things for me. I just didn't ..." Tears form in Karen's red swollen eyes. "I didn't know that would be the last  ...." she sobs.

"Did he put away his tools when he finished?"

Drying her face with a ragged tissue she continues. "He said he needed a beer first." She glances over to where he normally sits, she starts crying again. Regaining her composure, she continues, "I offered to collect his tools before dark, he laughs and says the pink crowbar will be there when he leaves."

"Do you know anyone who wants to hurt him?"

"No, he is a sweetheart to all the ladies and a loyal friend to the guys. Oh, Jerry, I'm going to miss him so much, his boisterous laugh, his corny jokes, his crazy pranks." Burying her face in Pete's chest she cries harder.

Pete wraps his arms around her. "We're all going to miss him, hon."

***

I accomplished a lot today, Rachel proudly concludes, recalling today's events. She's drying off when she hears a light tap on the door. I have to get rid of these. Scooping up her filthy clothes, she runs to the closet and shoves them in the corner.

"Rachel, honey, are you alright?" Bonnie whispers.

Rachel anxiously turns around. I hope I locked the door. Running to the entrance she presses her body against it, then scans the room for forgotten clues.

"Rachel?"

"I'm feeling a little sick, a stomach virus, I think." She wraps her arm around her waist the way she did when she was little. How many times have I used that excuse?

"Do you want me to get you anything?"

"I'll be alright in a minute, but thanks anyhow."

"Let me know if you change your mind."

"I will." She hears her stepmother walking down the hall, and then the door closing behind her.

That was a close call. Scanning the room one last time, Rachel walks towards the couch.

***

Joe sees Jerry talking to the last patrons in the corner of the lot. I'm sure he's ready to hit the sack. Joe walks towards him. "Hey bud, there's nothing more we can do, so why don't we get to bed."

Throwing his arm around Joe's shoulders, Jerry snuggles against him. In a high pitched voice, he says; "I'm flattered you find me attractive." He runs his fingers down Joe' s chest. A guy hit on Joe a few months back, swearing Joe is gay. Jerry teases him every chance he gets.

Joe moves away. "You know what I mean, Jerr."

"Why don't you show me, big boy." Jerry shakes his hips side to side as he walks towards him.

"I'm warning you, Jerry, cut it out."

Jerry laughs."Goodnight, Boss." In a woman's voice, he adds. "You hunk of a man, you." He winks.

Joe walks away shaking his head.

***

The attacker lies quietly in her apartment, reliving the evening's events. A cool gentle wind brushes across her face as she gazes towards the sky.

This has been a wonderful night, One I'll remember forever. Her mind suddenly drifts back to when she was little.
~~~
Please god, please not tonight,
she'd beg, hunkering down in bed. She has dirty linen tucked tightly around her, trying to make herself feel safe. Hearing heavy footsteps coming down the hall, she starts shaking. Why God, why? What did I do to deserve this, what did I do so wrong? She cries.

The door squeaks open, a naked man stomps towards her.

I'll be a good girl from now on, I  promise I will. If you make him go away.  Please, God please, make him go away.

"I have a surprise for you tonight, my little angel." He rips the covers away.

She sees an assortment of scary gadgets dangling from his hands when she glances up. "No, please, not those again," she begs, remembering how he left her a battered mess before.

He secures her to the bed. "She's ready, to go."

Men storm into her room.
~~~
Glancing out her window she tearfully says, "I'm going to kill every one of those sick bastards who raped me." 
 


Chapter 8
The Killer Met Her Match

By Mistydawn

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

Stepping into the squad room, Joe sees some officers typing reports, while others are staring at a computer screen. The third group is busily shuffling people around. There's never a dull moment in this place. He plops his stuff on his desk. Yawning, he continues to survey the assortment of desks squeezed into the small, overcrowded room. We really need a bigger space. Yawning again, he turns towards the coffee pot. If that crap can't revive me, nothing will.

"Morning Captain." He reaches for the pot.

"Morning, Detective. The forensic reports from Frank and Bernie's murders are on your desk. It looks like the signature is the same, thirty-three stab wounds to the chest."

"What about the rest of the evidence?" Joe asks, walking towards his desk.

Throwing empty sugar packs in the trash; the captain follows. "The blood and fingerprints are from the victims. They're working on the rest now."

 Joe quickly scans the report.

"I'll leave you alone so you can work your magic." The captain pats Joe on the back.

"I'm going to need a lot of that to solve this case, Captain," he says, picking up the second page. He's still reading the information when Jerry walks through the door.

"Is that the report on Frank?" he asks, shedding his coat.

"Yeah, but it doesn't give us any leads. I don't understand how someone can commit such heinous crimes and not leave a single piece of evidence behind. That's just impossible. "Joe slams his fist on the desk. Papers scatter across the floor.

"Don't worry boss, we'll figure this out."  A snarling dog runs to the front of Jerry's computer screen when he bumps the mouse. Screaming, he jumps back. Losing his footing, Jerry falls into his chair. His leg hits the lever, his seat drops to the floor. The dog retires to his original spot in the center of the page. "Damn screensaver," Jerry grumbles.

"That was better than I imagined." Joe laughs.

"I'll get even with you, Joe."

"I'm sure you will." Mocking Jerry's girly scream, Joe laughs harder.

***

This part of town scares her. It was where she spent most of her childhood, but even then danger lurked around every corner. Now it's a place where criminals hide from the law and the cops are too afraid of the drug cartel to do anything about it. It's a place where no one dares walk the streets at night and walks guardedly in the daylight hours.

Everyone knows this cesspool exists, but turns a blind eye to it. She figures prominent citizens would rather have criminals stay in this grungy part of town than in their lavished neighborhoods.

She steps over the heaps of trash scattered across the sidewalk; then cautiously continues on. The wind picks up giving the morning air a crisp feel. She shivers. Wrapping her arms around herself, she quickens her pace. She feels a strong hand cover her mouth as she's being pulled backward. She tries to scream but the large, firm hand muffles her every sound.

"Keep fighting me and I'll cut you right here and now," a deep voice informs her. He brings a knife up to her neck.

She stops fighting.

"That's much better," he says, dragging her towards the building.

Seeing he's distracted, she tries to break free.

"I'm not warning you again," he says, securing the weapon against her neck.

She stops moving around. Warm tears stream down her wind-chapped face as he drags her into the building. Closing the door with his foot, he hauls her to the faded mattress on the far side of the room. 

"Are you as good as you used to be, Rachel?" he asks, slamming her body on the bed.

"I'm not Rachel," she screams, trying to push him away.

He pins her arms with his knees. "Change names, did you? I guess Rachel isn't good enough for you now you're high society. I hope you're still as good in bed as you used to be," he replies, feeling her up.

"Please don't do this," she tearfully begs. Childhood memories start flooding back. Hot salty tears stream from her hazel eyes.

"Shut up and take it, whore," he yells, slapping her across the face. Rising to his knees, he pulls down his pants.

Realizing her arms are free, she reaches towards her pocket.

"What do you think you're doing?" he asks.

Lifting up her knife, she stabs him in his chest. The sudden force sends him flying onto the dusty wood floor. Straddling him, she pulls the weapon out.

"You're never going to hurt me again," she screams, plunging the knife into his chest. "And I'm not a whore," she yells, thrusting the object into his heart.

Hearing someone coming up the steps, she pulls out the knife and then takes an opposing stance. I'm ready for you now. She pictures a gang of burly men walking through the door. I can't take all of them on. Frightened, she darts through the house. Discovering the doors and windows are boarded up, she looks for a place to hide.

***
Joe and Jerry are sitting at their desks, trying to make sense of the recent crimes. The chaos around them is giving Joe a migraine. I wish we had our own work area, he thinks, trying to ignore the commotion. 

"I've summarized all the facts hoping that might help." Gathering up several sheets of paper, Jerry continues, "We have four stab victims. Three took place in a public area and one at home. He killed two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The first stabbing occurred in Urbanette; the next two in town, and the last one in Eureka Springs. All four are married, they're in their mid 40's, and have been in Berryville for at least 15 years. They're all in the six-foot range and have brown hair, brown eyes. Max is the DA; Frank and Bernie work at Tyson and Lenny in accounting. I know both Frank and Bernie use to beat their wives so I'm thinking the killer is trying to stop them. Maybe his dad beat his mom, possibly killed her, and her death is what sent him over the edge."

"Well, that's one theory, but according to Rachel, Max treats Bonnie like a queen. I'm not too sure about this Lenny character. Tell you what, I'll look into his and Max's relationships just in case."

"Ok, how about this theory, Boss? Since the killer targets men in their forties, he could've been abused by a man who's that age?"

"That's possible. Look up murders where domestic violence is involved and then narrow that down to only men in their forties."

"I'm on it boss." Jerry snickers.

"What?" Joe nervously looks around.

"Nothing, Boss." Jerry snickers again.

***

She's still searching for a hiding place when the front door squeaks open.

"Hey, Carlos are you home?" Jimmy asks, stepping in the door. He sees his friend lying motionless beside the bed. "Oh my God, no." His anguish quickly turns to rage. "I'm going to find and kill whoever did this," he yells, storming through the house.

Her entire body is trembling with fear as she slides under the bed. Please don't let them find me, oh, please don't let them find me, she begs. Hearing the doorknob turn, she takes a deep breath and holds it. Boots clump towards her as she lay frozen on the cold, dusty floor.

Rushing over, Jimmy searches the closet. "Not in here." Turning, he walks toward the door.

She starts feeling dizzy, lightheaded from the lack of oxygen. It's almost over, she thinks, trying to hold on a little longer. Dust particles tickle her nose when he walks by. Not now, she begs. Too frightened to move, she wiggles her nose, hoping to relieve the sensation. Her eyes start watering trying to keep it contained. A few more seconds, she coaxes, watching him step into the hall. The urge becomes so strong that she can't hold it back any longer.

"I know you're in here somewhere," he yells, searching the room again.

She sneezes a second time.

Jimmy checks under the bed. "There you are." Grabbing her short brown hair, he pulls her out.

Reaching up, she swipes the blade across his arm. Blood gushes from his extremity.

"You bitch," he screams, grabbing a hold of his arm.

She runs towards the hall.

"I don't think so." Running across the room, he shuts the door.

"You better let me go," she warns, swinging the weapon around.

"You don't scare me." 

"I'll kill you like I did your friend, I swear I will," she hisses, lunging towards him.

Grabbing her wrist, he tries shaking the weapon out of her hand.

Bringing up her knee, she lodges it into his groin.

"You bitch," he screams, doubling over in pain. Grabbing his head, she slams his face into her knee and then shoves him to the floor. Turning, she darts towards the door.

Grabbing a hold of her ankle, he pulls her to the floor.

Her hand flies open causing the knife to spiral across the room.
 


Chapter 9
Dead Ends

By Mistydawn

Commotion continues all around them as Joe and Jerry try to come up with a new lead. With no evidence and questionable motives, the case is going nowhere fast.

Joe pops the lid from his Tylenol bottle and pours a few pills into his hand. Hearing all the racket, he shakes out a couple more.

"Have a headache, Boss?"

Joe swallows his pills. "I woke up with it." He glances at his cup. "This crap probably isn't helping any."

Jerry chuckles. "And you thought army coffee is bad."

Joe glances down at the row of papers lined across his desk. We're never going to solve this thing. He rubs his aching head.

Jerry watches his distraught partner agonize over the reports. Hopefully, my idea will ease his tension. "I think I have something, Boss."

"What's that?"

"Do you remember me telling you that Frank and Max were Jeanie's lovers?"

"Yeah." Joe continues to rub his temples.

"Well, Lenny and Bernie were too. So I'm thinking our killer is getting justice for Jennie's death instead of getting revenge."

"Why would he wait 14 years to do it, Jerr?"

"Maybe he was incarcerated until now or maybe something happened that sent him over the edge."

"That's possible."

"I'm looking up recent releases and comparing them to people Jeanie knew."

"I'll talk to Bernie's wife and see if she can tell us something." He sees their Captain walking towards him when he stands up.

"Hey guys, Max is awake, and a woman wants to see you. She says she might know something that'll help us with Max's stabbing." He hands Joe her report, then waves a woman over.

Joe watches a young lady dressed in scrubs walk to his desk. She has long chestnut hair that's drawn into a bun, fastened at the nape of her neck. Her makeup is applied sparingly enhancing her natural beauty. Joe then notices her wrinkle-free uniform and her freshly polished shoes.

"Please, have a seat," Joe says, scanning her report.

Melinda fidgets with her purse as Joe continues to read. She wasn't sure if what she's doing is against HIPAA laws that healthcare professionals are strictly cohered to. This has nothing to do with his health. Besides, anyone could've heard him, she reasons, trying to relax.

"Max woke up last night screaming, please stop Rachel, don't hurt me?"

 She nervously scoots to the edge of her seat then glances towards the door. No one will know it was me. "That's what he said. When I asked him about it, he said he didn't remember."

"How did he act afterward?" Jerry questions.

She turns towards the detective. "He was panicked at first. He wanted to know who I am, where he was and what happened to him."

"What happened after you told him?" Jerry asks.

 "He went right back to sleep."

Jerry scratches his head. "Why would Rachel want to harm him, Joe?"

"Who is Rachel?" Melinda questions. She glances between the two detectives.

"Thanks for helping us." Standing up, Joe walks towards her. "Call us if you think of anything else, no matter how meager it may seem." He hands her his card as he ushers her towards the door.

She looks at Joe and then Jerry. There may be more to this Rachel thing than I thought. "I will."

Jerry waits until she's out of earshot before sharing his thought. "Maybe Rachel asked for something, and he refused to give it to her, Boss?"

Joe recalls how they seemed to have a special bond all the times he saw them together. He then remembers how heartbroken she was when she ran over a raccoon. "I just don't see her as our killer, especially not her father. Besides, she isn't strong enough to inflict thirty-three wounds, is she?"

"She might be, Boss," Jerry says.

"Keep working on your new theory, I'll talk to Max and Pam. He grabs his jacket from the back of his chair.

"Detectives, I have some information on the tire impressions," Kirk says, walking towards them.

"Whatcha got?" Joe asks, taking a report from his hand.

"I ran their pattern through Tread mate and discovered that the brand name is Integrity, manufactured by Good Year. Wal-Mart and Worley are the only two shops that sell this brand of tire in town. So I'm having my assistant call them now."

"Good work, Kirk," Joe says, patting him on the back.

"Thank you, Sir." He smiles.

***

The killer is lying on the cold dusty floor, her legs pinned by her attacker. Using her arms, she scoots towards the door.

"You're not going anywhere," he says, jerking her back.

She rises up on her elbow and glares into his eyes. "I'm not going out like this." With all the strength she can muster, she raises her leg and kicks him with the heel of her boot. His head flies backward; blood splatters across the room.

Scrambling to her feet, she darts into the hall. His footsteps thud behind her.

"You'll pay for this, Rachel. God help me, you will." He wipes the blood from his nose. "I'll hunt you down and kill you. I swear I will," he screams.

The cold wind whips her face when she throws the wooden door open. Wrapping her coat around herself, she tears out of the building; into a lurid man's arms. "Let go of me," she yells, struggling to break free.

Not wanting any part of what's going on, Lou lets her go.

She sidesteps around his vile body.

"Stop that bitch, Lou," Jimmy orders. He grabs the door casing for support.

Lou sees his battered friend standing at the entrance. His once white t-shirt is shredded and covered in blood. He has slash marks on his hands and across his tatted face.

"What happened to you?" Lou gasps.

"That damn wild woman, that's what," he yells, storming back inside.

***

She locks her car doors then searches for her keys. They have to be here somewhere. She checks her pockets again. I must've dropped them somewhere. She looks behind her but doesn't see them lying on the road. What if I lost them at the house? She glances in that direction.

The sky darkens, as heavy rain clouds cover the late morning sun.

"I would have to be stuck in horror land in the middle of a storm." She slams her hands against the steering wheel. "Now what am I going to do?" Remembering her spare key, she runs to the back of her car. She's searching for a small container when a deep voice asks:

"Are you looking for something?"

 Worried about his intentions, she places the key between her fingers, pointy side out. "I was looking for my spare key." She looks up to see a tall, handsome man standing over her.

"Here, let me help you," he offers, squatting next to her.

"I've already found it, but thanks." Standing up, she nervously backs away.

"I'm glad because I wouldn't want to see a sweet thing like you out in this storm." He reaches towards her. She moves away.

"I'm not going to hurt you, sweetheart." He strums his finger down the side of her face.

His soft tone, gentle touch, and luring cologne intoxicate her as she gazes into his eyes.

He strokes her face then moves his finger across her delicate lips.

Her heart pounds wildly, lovestruck by this mysterious man.

"It's always a pleasure to kiss a woman lovely as you." He leans towards her, touching her lips to his. A lightning bolt brightens the sky. He hesitantly pulls away.

"You better get home before it pours." Wrapping his arm around her, he guides her to the car.

She gazes longingly into his eyes as he opens the door.

Leaning over, he kisses her again. "I hope I'll see you again." He grins.

His beautiful smile and baby blues melt her hardened heart. 

"You take care, now," he replies.

She lustfully gazes at the alluring man as he closes the neon's door. If only .... she dreamily drives away.

***

Joe sees Pam in the yard when he pulls into her drive. "Hi, Pam."

"I know you probably think it's strange for me to be working in the garden so soon after his death but I feel closer to him when I'm out here." Wiping tears from her cheek, she continues, "I miss him so much." 

"I'm sure you do."

"We've been together for over twenty years. He was my childhood sweetheart, my one, and only love."

How could anyone love someone that beats them? "I'd like to ask you a few questions about Bernie."

"I'll help you any way I can." She sniffles.

Joe takes out his pen and paper. "Does Bernie have any enemies, someone who's mad at him?"

"No, Bernie gets along with everyone."

"Did he make someone mad at work?"

"He didn't mention it to me." She blows her nose.

Joe hesitantly moves to the next question. "I hate to ask, but its routine, so please don't get mad," he says, hoping he won't upset her, the way he did Judy.

"I watch a lot of detective shows so I know what you're going to ask." Smiling weakly, she continues, "I babysit my grandkids on Friday nights. It gives their mom and dad alone time. Besides, I love having kids in the house. It's too quiet just Bernie and ...." She cries harder.

"It might do you some good to be with your family now."

"I think you're right." She sniffles. "Joe, I'm not mad at you. I know you're only doing your job."

"Thank you for the help. Pam, please go be with your family."

"I will," she replies, walking towards her house.

***

Rachel rushes home to change. I want to look halfway presentable when I visit dad. Choosing a nice outfit from her closet, she runs to the shower.

A hot bath will feel terrific after everything I've been through today. Taking off her stained clothes, she hides them with the others.

I have to get rid of these soon, she thinks, surveying the growing stack.
 


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