In the Silence

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It rained so hard Wednesday that David was forced to stay in a motel just south of Portland. There wasn't a break in the weather until late Thursday morning. David still hoped to make it to the California border by nightfall. The ride on Interstate 5 was monotonous and the weather would be better down south. David's side trip to Portland had taken him almost nine hundred miles north into a cooler, damper climate, yet it was something he had to do. All he had hoped for was somehow to improve the relationship between Mr. Miller and Paul.

Marcea had not slept well since David had left. Getting the children off to school was more tedious than usual and she only got halfway through her exercise workout before she thought of David. He had called just last night while she was bathing Danny. They only talked briefly and David promised to call back again Friday. Marcea already missed him and was letting her guard down. Her only experience before David was with her husband; that hurt cut deep and she was reluctant to get involved again.

After fixing a cup of coffee she started reading the book Paul had sent her but only got through a chapter before her mind was again on David. She dreamed of a romantic weekend — no children and no interruptions, just the two of them sharing and being together. Then suddenly her daydream was abruptly interrupted by a beating on the door. Marcea went to the door and was confronted by two men. She recognized one of them from the day before; he was the one asking all the questions about David. The other man looked like a police officer, but his uniform was different and he was not that well groomed to be a policeman.

"Can I help you?" Marcea asked through the crack of the door, the security chain still hooked.

"Yes. Remember me? I was here yesterday looking for David. Is he here today?" It was Kirk.

"No, and I'm not sure when he will be back." This time Marcea was not generous with the information she offered.

"Yesterday you told me he was on a vacation!" yelled Kirk through the crack of the door.

Frightened, Marcea slammed the door. She tried to lock it but Kirk was twisting the knob. Then he forced his weight against the door and the chain tightened. Marcea was pushing it back closed with all her strength, but now Henry was also in the act. Finally, the chain gave way and the force of the door flung Marcea backwards onto the floor.

Kirk and Henry rushed in. "Check the rooms!" yelled Kirk. Marcea was half frozen with fear. Kirk stood over her, watching her tremble. His gun drawn, Henry rushed through the mobile home checking all the rooms. Marcea was alone. The children were at school and David was more than a thousand miles away.

"It's all clear, boss. Nobody's here," Henry said, excited by the action. He was finally a real cop.

"Cuff her!" ordered Kirk.

Henry pulled the handcuffs from his belt. Never having used them before, he fumbled about, trying to get them on Marcea as she struggled. Kirk shoved him aside, dropped his knee into Marcea's back and yanked her hands back. Her resistance excited Kirk and after he got the handcuffs on, he pulled her up by her hair and started to frisk her. All she had on was an exercise dance outfit and Kirk's hand took great liberties! Petrified with fear, Marcea could not scream, move, or even breathe.

"We'll get her down to the Department so she can tell us all about her computer hacker boyfriend," Kirk said.

"Shouldn't we take her to the police station?" Henry asked. The up and down groping Kirk was giving Marcea was making him nervous.

"No, not until I question her. I checked some records last night and she's just some tramp that used to work in a strip joint. She's tied up with this David McIntosh character who was dishonorably discharged from the service. He stole a top secret government computer chip. Mr. Henderson wants this Clipper Chip before her boyfriend can do some serious harm to the country's national security. Don't forget, if you assist me I will make sure you get promoted downstairs with us. You know how much pull Mr. Henderson has."

"Whatever you say." Henry was excited by the thought of promotion.

The two men hustled Marcea out to the car and forced her into the back. Kirk ordered her to lie on the seat, warning her to keep her head down or he would get back there and teach her a lesson. She had shut the door on him yesterday, but now he was in control.

Curled up on the backseat, Marcea shook uncontrollably and the handcuffs cut into her tiny fragile wrists. She could feel the blood soaking into her back, yet all she could think of was her children and their safety. They would be coming home from school and she would not be there. Who will take care of Danny if something happens to me? With a burst of effort Marcea sat up, hoping to attract some attention. They were traveling south on Interstate 25 and Marcea peered over at a man in the car next to them trying to get his attention. Kirk watched what she was up to in the rear view mirror and slowed down, letting that car move ahead. He then reached back over the seat and yanked her long brown hair, pulling her onto the floor between the seats.

It took over an hour to get back to the Department. Marcea remained fear-struck and quiet as she listened to Kirk telling Henry how much help he was and how much he could use him in the future. Kirk instructed Henry to drop him off at the Department and then to bring Marcea back after five, when all the Public Document Center employees went home. Her children were home from school by now, and she was not there.

Kirk filled Mr. Henderson in on all the information he now had on David and his live-in girlfriend. Mr. Henderson needed more, like where and when they could locate David.

By six the building was clear enough to bring in Marcea. Kirk met Henry in the parking lot, opened the door, pulled Marcea from the car and put a jacket over her shoulders to hide the handcuffs. Henry was instructed to park the car and wait. With a firm grip on Marcea's arm, Kirk walked her up the stairs, into the building, and over to the elevator. Marcea looked around the lobby. She wanted to yell but the floor was vacant!

Kirk passed his card through the strip reader. As the elevator doors parted, he shoved Marcea into the elevator and hit 2 LOWER LEVEL button. Marcea felt as though she were descending into hell. God, whatever happens to me I deserve it. But there is nobody to take care of my children. Please God, help me. Please God, help. Please God . . .

Once the elevator doors opened, Kirk yanked Marcea out onto the Computer Security floor and pushed her down the hall. He unlocked the Supply Room door, forced her over to the table, and ordered her to sit. Marcea could barely sit on the edge of the chair because her hands were still cuffed behind her back. Kirk started feeling her breasts through the snug fitting cotton exercise top. Marcea twisted sideways on the chair, started to squirm and then tried to bite his hand. This only heightened Kirk's sick sexual appetite. He grabbed Marcea's long brown hair and twisted her head back around. He had just positioned himself in front of her, when Mr. Henderson yelled from the doorway, "What the hell's going on?"

Kirk jumped back! "This is the tramp who is shacked up with that computer infiltrator. She is still covering for him, keeps insisting that he is on vacation. I'm just trying to get her to tell me where he is hiding." Kirk moved from between the table and the chair Marcea was in. "I got a printout on this tramp. Do you want to see it?"

"Yes. Get it!" Mr. Henderson said, walking to the table to sit adjacent from Marcea.

Kirk rushed out of the Supply Room and returned in less than a minute. He handed the printout to Mr. Henderson.

Reading over the printout Mr. Henderson said, "Take the handcuff off this little lady."

"Okay, but I have to go get the key from Henry," Kirk said as he left the room for the second time.

Marcea sensed she might trust Mr. Henderson. She hadn't the faintest idea about the computer system, let alone someone tapping into it. David had been teaching Danny how to use a computer and wondered if maybe it was Danny who accidently broke into something he shouldn't have. She was just about to offer this explanation to Mr. Henderson when he put the printout down.

"It says here that you used to live in Seattle, moved to Denver, without your husband, and then started working at a nightclub as a dancer. You have two children: Ann, age ten, and a retarded kid that's eight. Is that right?"

"Sort of," Marcea responded.

"I'm not interested in you. But I need to know where this David is, the one you're living with."

"I already told the other man everything. David left Sunday and said he would be gone about two weeks."

"Look here! That boyfriend of yours bought a stolen computer decoding device from the military. If you don't help us, you will be his accomplice. Who will take care of your children if we put you in prison?"

"I told you I don't know anything!" Marcea cried out.

"Where did he go on this so-called vacation?"

"He was in Portland, Oregon. I think he left there this morning, and now is headed to see his friend in San Francisco."

"And I think you are covering for him!" yelled Mr. Henderson.

"No, that's all I know!"

Mr. Henderson slapped her face. "Stupid bitch. I'll get the information from you, one way or the other."

"I don't know anything!" Marcea pleaded, tears and blood dripping from her red, swollen face.

Mr. Henderson lifted his fat and massive hand again! But this time grabbed her exercise top and tore it open. Marcea bent over. Her instinct was to hide her exposed breasts, but she couldn't — her hands were still cuffed behind her back. Utterly helpless and now being violated, there was nothing she could do.

Kirk had just returned with the key and saw what was happening. Seeing her struggling and crying was more exciting to him than her nakedness. He moved to the left rear corner of the room and started the video camera. Mr. Henderson told Marcea to perform for the camera like she did when she worked in the nightclub.

Marcea begged and cried out, "Please no! Please no! I have told you everything. Don't make me." Kirk kept taping her as she cried, trembled and pleaded. The tape rolled. Watching through the camera, Kirk wished Mr. Henderson wasn't there. He could get the information out of her and at the same time teach her for slamming the door in his face the other day.

Mr. Henderson was losing his patience. "Either get up and perform for us, or tell me where David is."

"All I know is that he said he would call again Friday night. I can find out where he is then."

Mr. Henderson took a deep breath, paused and thought for a while. "I tell you what. When David calls on Friday and if you help me find him, things will be okay for you. But if not, you will have to choose which child of yours should die."

Shocked Marcea sat straight up and glared into Mr. Henderson's pitch-black, beady eyes. She knew he was serious when all that she saw was a dark void — he had no soul.

Kirk kept taping the whole ordeal, envying Mr. Henderson's power, his ability to control fate and destiny. Mr. Henderson saw the whole picture. Whatever he wanted he could have, even at the sacrifice of a child's life.

Marcea also regarded Mr. Henderson's power. She noted how he wiped the sweat from his heavy, wrinkled brow and stood, and how the chair creaked when he raised his fat body from it. Marcea could not move, could not think, could not even pray. She no longer thought about covering herself and didn't even realize Mr. Henderson had removed the handcuffs. To spare her children she would let them do anything they wanted to her.

Mr. Henderson motioned Kirk out into the hall, out of hearing distance. The video camera was left running. "Kirk, I want you to be at her home Friday. Make sure her story about him being on the road checks out. I don't think she's lying about his calling tomorrow night."

"Then what?"

"Then we'll flush David out. Do something to make him come right home," said Mr. Henderson.

"What if she goes to the police?" asked Kirk.

That was a risk Mr. Henderson had not considered. He rubbed his hand across his sweaty forehead and walked back to the supply room.

Marcea pulled together her torn top and glanced away as the two men reentered the room. Mr. Henderson looked down on her and said, "Listen to me, and listen good. If you go to the police, I will kill that retarded son of yours."

Marcea could not breathe; it was a mother's worst fear. Turning, she again glared at Mr. Henderson. He was not man; he was beast. She would do anything, anything they wished — there was no other choice. "I will not go to the police. I'll do whatever you say."

"Good," said Mr. Henderson.

Like a puppy worshipping at his master's feet, Kirk followed Mr. Henderson back down the hall. Kirk had always contracted out the dirty work, not wanting to do the killings himself — but Mr. Henderson was beyond that. He actually owned people and controlled their souls. Kirk was still an apprentice.

Mr. Henderson's plans to control the world could not be risked. He stopped and said to Kirk, "After this David calls tomorrow night and you confirm that he is on a vacation someplace, set the house on fire."

"Do what?" asked Kirk while lowering his voice. "Did you say to burn his house down?"

"Yes. He'll come home if you set a trap for him."

Kirk shook his head in awe. The plan was perfect. "What about the woman and her children?"

"Set the fire at four in the morning when they're sleeping. Make sure it burns fast. We don't need any loose ends."

Kirk's whole body tightened then his mouth dropped. Sensing Kirk's reluctance, Mr. Henderson employed his powers of manipulation. "Why don't you go back in there and get that ex-stripper to perform for you? I wouldn't touch her though. Never know what type of sleazy people she has been with. You could catch something deadly."

An evil leering grin came to Kirk's face, like a drug addict before a fix. Mr. Henderson went to the elevator and Kirk returned to the room. Marcea was still sitting at the table. She knew that if she wanted to see her children again she would have to do whatever they asked. Kirk shut the door and motioned Marcea to the corner with the mattress. "Give me a show!"

Wordlessly Marcea danced. Removing her torn exercise outfit reminded her of the first time she had stripped. Like now, she was in need. Only now, she was dancing for a lot more than money. Years ago Marcea had conditioned herself to tune out searching eyes, and the sea of lusting men, to just do what she had to.

Marcea's willingness to strip turned Kirk off. He had wanted fear, a power play — just like the other women he had forced into submission. "Get dressed!" Kirk ordered.

Marcea picked up her clothes and hurriedly pulled them back on. During the short disgusting ordeal her only thoughts had been for her children. As Kirk blindfolded her again, she told him the handcuffs weren't needed, she'd cooperate. This deflated Kirk even more — he liked women to struggle.

For over an hour Marcea just lay on the back seat of the car, feverishly praying. Kirk was in the front telling Henry how top secret everything this had to be. A couple miles before the Castle Rock exit Kirk reiterated that Marcea must not to call or talk to anybody and that he'd be back Friday at five to intercept David's call. When they turned off the Interstate, Marcea was told to sit up and take off the blindfold. The sight of the abandoned gas station and country store was a relief — she was only minutes from home. When they pulled in front of the mobile home, Marcea jumped from the car, ran up the ramp and busted into the house. Ann and Danny were watching TV. She rushed to them and held them like baby chicks under her wings. Kirk and Henry pulled away from the house. They'd be back tomorrow.

A few minutes before five Friday evening the white government sedan pulled up outside. Danny was peeking out the curtain and it was the same license number he had copied into his computer. But this time Kirk had Scott with him, not Henry. Mr. Henderson wanted to get Scott involved more deeply in the Department. What better way than to have him help with setting the fire.

Marcea opened the door before Kirk and Scott had even knocked. She looked terrible, not having slept or showered for the last twenty-four hours. Scott instantly noticed her distressed state and so much wanted to blurt out that he was not part of this. Kirk searched the mobile home and found Danny in a wheelchair sitting in front of an old computer in his room. Then he found Ann in her room. He liked what he saw. Children were so innocent and pure. No chance of a disease. Kirk came back down the hall leading Ann with his hand on her shoulder. Marcea pulled Ann from his grip and yelled, "Leave my children alone!"

"I was just going to see if your daughter wanted to be in movies," Kirk said softly. Then he looked Ann up and down and gave her a friendly yet sadistic smile. Marcea trembled. She should have packed up the kids and ran last night but she had no place to go. Scott, just standing by the door, felt sick to his stomach. Just like Marcea, he was trapped, his own family hostage. He had to be there — Mr. Henderson's orders. Scott had no idea what the entire mission was to entail.

Danny had pushed himself out into the hall. Ever since the day he saw Kirk with the gun and had rammed his chair into Kirk's leg, he knew Kirk was evil. Unnoticed, Danny wheeled himself back into the master bedroom and slid open the closet door. He knew what he was looking for. He had seen David put it there after bird hunting. Danny had to scoot to the edge of his chair and lean far into the closet. Reaching through the clothes, his fingers touched the cold steel. Now he needed the shotgun shells. Danny pushed himself back and from his angle could just barely see the green and yellow box of shells on the top shelf, just out of reach.

Kirk made himself comfortable on the sofa, waiting for David's phone call. The tension was getting extreme. "Make me some coffee," Kirk ordered. Wordlessly Marcea stood and went into the kitchen. "Go watch her," Kirk whispered to Scott. For the last hour Kirk had been paying great attention to Ann; he could further "befriend" her if they were alone.

Danny had tried to get the shells down with the barrel of the shotgun but had only managed to push them further back on the shelf. When he heard his mother in the kitchen, he wheeled himself back down the hall to get her assistance. He saw Scott there whispering to her. "I'm sorry. They forced me to come along. Just as they are threatening you, they also threatened harm to my wife and children."

"Who are they?" Marcea whispered back.

"It's mainly Mr. Henderson at the Department of Statistics. Kirk is just the Gestapo." Scott continued in a soft voice, not wanting to be overheard in the frontroom. "Somehow your boyfriend tapped into our computer system. He's the one that they want. When he calls, just do what Kirk said. That's all I should tell you. If you know too much, they might hurt you."

Danny had listened to every word. He had to warn David! The kettle on the stove rattled from the water boiling hard for so long. Marcea put the instant coffee in the cup and poured in the water. Danny went back into his room.

Scott held open the swinging saloon style doors so Marcea could carry the hot coffee into the frontroom. Ann was almost sitting in Kirk's lap. He had beguiled her with stories of all the horses he had on his ranch and how they all loved to be ridden. Marcea started to shake; she knew exactly what was in Kirk's sick little mind. Please God, don't let him touch my daughter. She tried to give Ann a warning glare.

In a partly aroused state, Kirk haphazardly grabbed the cup of coffee. "Yeow!" Kirk yelled. Spilling the entire cup of boiling hot coffee in his crotch, he jumped up, trying to pull his soaked pants away from his skin. He ran into the kitchen, pulled down his pants, and splashed cold water to his groin. The inside of his thighs had already started to blister. Kirk asked for an ice pack and some aspirin, then sat alone in the kitchen in agonizing pain.


The phone finally rang. Marcea picked it up. "Hello." All she heard was a loud screeching. She knew that it had to be David but something was wrong with the connection. Kirk dropped the ice pack, yanked his pants back up and struggled to the frontroom. The phone rang again, but Marcea heard the same noise and again hung up. The third time Kirk was the one to get an ear full of the almost painful sound. They all waited but the phone did not ring a fourth time.

David, miles away knew exactly what the squealing was — Danny on the other line in his bedroom wanting to connect via computer modem. David would have connected his computer, but was calling from a phone booth. After waiting a half hour, David tried again, but Danny was still at his computer, using the modem to block any voice calling.

David left the phone booth. He had just taught Danny how to use a modem and was happy that Danny showed such a keen interest, but wished he would let him get his call through. David decided to call back later when Danny would be in bed. He rode about thirty miles further south to a small roadside campground on the outskirts of Redding, California. He went into the small camp store to pay for a campsite and asked where a pay phone was. The clerk offered the desk phone as long as it was collect.

David called the operator to place a collect call but after trying, the operator said she only got the carrier signal from a computer modem. Frustrated, David offered the campground clerk twenty dollars if he could bring in his laptop computer and connect to the desk phone line and call direct. The clerk was a little hesitant but after David explained about Danny being in a wheelchair and just learning about computers, she gave the okay.

David went outside then returned with his laptop computer. It took about two seconds for David to unsnap the modular plug from the phone and connect it to his computer. He loaded up the software, dialed his phone number on the keyboard, then hit the F2 key.

In a millisecond the phone rang almost a thousand miles away. Marcea hoped that this time the call would come through. Kirk was in pain and his patience was at its end. But the phone only rang once and quit before she had a chance to pick it up.

Danny finally had connected with David's computer. He already had a file written and prepared to send. He moved the toggle switch to transmit on the old 300 baud rate modem. It was slow enabling David to read the file as fast as it appeared on his screen:



Kirk had just busted into Danny's room and caught him. In letting his head slump, Danny hit the CTRL, ALT, and DEL keys simultaneously, causing the message on his screen to clear and the computer to reset. Kirk walked over, looked at the screen and found only the prompt flashing. "Stupid retard. You're the one screwing up the phone," Kirk said as he yanked the plugs out of the wall. Danny put on one of his fake spasm attacks while looking up at Kirk. What a stupid jerk this guy is. Next time I will have the shotgun loaded and pay him back for whatever he did to my mom.

The phone rang again. In agonizing pain, Kirk laboriously worked himself back to the frontroom. After letting the phone ring two times, Marcea picked it up. "David, it's you!" Kirk crowded his ear right next to the phone to hear.

"I told you I would call tonight," said David, not sure about what was going on but aghast that Danny knew and transmitted Mr. Henderson's name.

"When are you going to be home?" asked Marcea, per the instructions she had been given.

"I should be home in about a week."

"Could you give me an exact day?"

"I'm not sure. Is there something wrong?"

Kirk pulled his head away and shook it side to side.

"No, everything is fine."

Kirk made the gesture of his hand passing in front of his neck. Marcea knew what would happen if she tried to get clever. She just offered small talk and Kirk was pleased with the job she was doing. He made the motion for her to cut it off and hang up.

"David, I've got to go check on the kids now. Could you call back later in the week and let me know when you will be coming home? And thank you for going to church with us last Sunday. I love you," Marcea, then hung up.

I didn't go to church with them. Marcea has never said that she loves me. David paid the clerk twenty dollars, grabbed his computer and roared off on his Harley.

Kirk was in so much pain that they left immediately after the phone call. He ordered Scott to drive him to the Emergency Room for some strong pain medication, but the pain killer made him too tired to complete the assignment. He'd have to wait till early Sunday morning to set the fire.


On Friday David had ridden eight hours from Portland, Oregon to Redding, California. After Danny's message he rode another ten hours, throughout the night into Saturday morning. He made it out of California and crossed Nevada, hitting speed of over one hundred miles an hour on the open desert. The eighty cubic inch power plant ran strong, never missing a beat, but David was getting fatigued. The rising sun burned into David's tired eyes; he decided to take a break until the sun got a little higher in the sky.

At a rest area on the Nevada, Utah border David looked at his map. He knew he would have to slow down but still calculated to be home by six that evening. Stretching out on top a picnic table for an intended thirty-minute rest, David was awakened four hours later by the air brakes of a semi-truck pulling into the rest area. The sun was now high above the horizon. David looked at his watch. He would not make it home till after dark — maybe not till early Sunday morning.

Due to the pain pills, Kirk had also overslept. As he methodically applied burn ointment, the phone rang in the kitchen of his apartment. Kirk knew who it was. He didn't want to answer but then thought of the consequences. Moving as fast as the burns would let him, he answered the phone. "Yes?"

"How did it go last night?" asked Mr. Henderson.

"That David McIntosh did call. The broad was telling the truth. He is on a trip someplace in California."

"Did you take care of the other thing?"

"No, not yet," Kirk replied warily.

"What? That was the plan. Take care of any loose ends and give him a reason to get back home," Mr. Henderson said firmly.

"I had an accident last night and had to go to the hospital. I'll take care of everything tonight. By Monday morning those loose ends will be taken care of and I will be waiting for David to show up after he reads about it."

"You'd better!" warned Mr. Henderson. "I want the story on the wire service Monday morning. Make sure all the papers in California are wired about the tragedy. Let's make sure Mr. McIntosh can't miss it. Get it on TV if you can. We need him out of the way." Click. Mr. Henderson had hung up.

Kirk knew that he had to finish the job tonight or else. It was early so he decided to pass a few hours watching videos from his home library. Kirk started with the new tape he had made of Marcea, then the kiddy porn tape he had picked up in Denver. The burns made it impossible for him to gratify himself so he switched on a high action movie on cable. The graphic high-tech explosions with all the carnage gave Kirk an idea. He left his apartment in search of more supplies. It was past four before he filled out all the papers to obtain a dynamite permit. If it wasn't for the fact he had Federal Identification and was so insistent, the clerk would have made him wait until Monday to purchase the case of TNT. Kirk loaded the explosives in the trunk and then went back to his apartment to get ready. He got on a camouflage outfit, even painted his face black. He was ready. It was hard but he had to wait. Mr. Henderson's instructions were to make sure everyone was asleep before he set the fire.

At first Kirk was having second thoughts, but rationalized that with the dynamite they wouldn't even know what hit them. And Kirk was thinking of the praise he would get. Wait till Monday when Mr. Henderson finds out. This is one job I won't mess up. There won't even be any clues to worry about because everything and everyone will be blown to smithereens. Just a few more hours and there will be one huge explosion. It will make the news all over the country. Then I wait for David to show up and finish the job. He is no match for me. Then finally I'll be back in good with Mr. Henderson and can start working on Scott's wife. She can't have any diseases because she's such a "better than thou" Christian-type. When I get done with her she will . . .


David stopped for fuel in Grand Junction, Colorado. It was just getting dark. He would have to keep the speed down a little but had made up some time and figured he could be home by nine. Cruising on Interstate 70, he put his plan together. Danny said two men were waiting. One is skinny blond and has a ponytail. I will sneak up through the field behind the house and look through the windows. Then I'll call this Mr. Henderson and tell him to back off. I'll bluff him with the tape of him and Senator Brian Buck, telling him I know all about what he's up to. Then I'll offer to give him back the Clipper Chip, though I'll have to stall him till I'm finished with it. I want to find out who tore Marcea's top. That person should lose their job, at the very least. Probably some over- zealous FBI type that the press should find out about.

It was nine straight up when David stopped to get his last tank of gas in Denver. Exhaustion from all the riding was taking its toll, and he was thankful he would be home in less then a half hour. The last bit of ride went quick and like he'd planned. David parked his Harley one road over and hiked through the field behind his home. Sneaking around, peeking in all the rear windows, David worked around to the front. Then he checked up and down the road for a white government car but there was no car or anybody there, just Marcea and the kids.

David walked up the ramp and tried the door, but it was locked. He knocked, the porch light came on and Marcea's face looked out the window. Once inside there was just silence. Marcea first moved back to her children on the sofa but then could not hold back. She ran over to David and slapped him across the face. With all her built up rage she started to beat her fists into his chest. "What have you done? You've just put me through the worst three days of my life!" Marcea screamed.

David pushed her away, "What are you talking about?"

"Something about some Clipper Chip and tapping into some government computer system!"

"You don't understand. I accidently tapped into a computer that night I got stuck up on Mt. Antero."

"No, it's you who doesn't understand!" Marcea screamed even louder. "They threatened to kill my children and they almost raped me."

"What do you mean 'almost'?"

"I don't want to talk about it in front of the kids. I'm leaving tonight. Those men are evil."

"You're overreacting," David yelled. "I need to go get my bike. When I get back, we'll talk."

"David, I'm leaving. Those men are serious. This is no game. I want you to take us to the bus depot. If you don't, I'll call Bill and his wife. They'll give us a ride."

"Where are you going to go? Think about it. You don't have a place to go!"

"I don't know. Maybe I'll go to my mother's. Maybe I'll get off where the bus stops. All that I do know is that I'm getting out of here, and you should too."

"We'll talk when I get back. It will only take me five minutes to go get my Harley." David left, confident he could reason with Marcea after she cooled off.

He carefully walked back across the field in the dark. Starting his Harley, he drove around the block and then pulled under the carport. Slowly he unpacked things, replacing the computer and Clipper Chip back under the front seat of the truck. After systematically checking over his bike, he covered it with a tarp. David had stalled long enough. It was past ten and hopefully Marcea had cooled down. Grabbing his duffel bag, David took a deep breath and headed for the house. Right inside the door were two suitcases, a gym bag and a box of the kids' toys.

Marcea came down the hall with her small wooden box of special things, looked up at David and asked, "Are you going to take us into the bus depot or should I call Bill?"

David hadn't taken her ranting and raving seriously; he should have. He did not want her to leave, certainly not on a bus in the middle of the night. Reaching inside his leather jacket he pulled out the envelope he'd been carrying and handed it to Marcea. "Here is a round trip ticket to San Francisco and five hundred dollars that Paul gave to me. I was going to return it to him, but I can do that another time. Why don't you go down there for a week or so? And then I will meet up with you after I get this Clipper Chip thing straightened out."

Marcea took the envelope. It was an answer to her prayers. She looked at the ticket, the five one hundred dollar bills, and a paper with Paul's address and phone number. "Thank you," she guardedly replied. "David, I'm telling you, these men are dangerous. We all need to leave right now!"

"Marcea, things will be okay. I'm here now. I'm sure nobody will come back tonight. Anyway, I have my shotgun in the closet. Don't you think you can at least wait till the morning?" David wanted to be with her at least once before she left.

"Sure, we can wait till morning." Marcea said with somewhat of a smile. California was a long way away and David did make her feel safe. Actually, she wished Kirk would show up. She knew David could tear him apart and that would teach him how it felt.

Ironically, her wish was coming partially true. Kirk was on his way to pay a visit, only he would not be letting them know that he was there.

Marcea carried her small wooden box of private things back to the bedroom. When she kneeled down to slide it back under the bed, she prayed. Dear God, thank you for not letting anything happen to my children. I know I have not been the best person but those men should be stopped. God, I pray to you that no other women should have to go through what I did, and please comfort the ones that have gone through even worse. And I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to protect David in dealing with these evil men. I give you all my love, and please always look over my children. Amen.

Marcea returned to the frontroom and she was just about to get the children in bed when she thought of calling the airport to find out what time a flight left Denver in the morning. With anguish she learned that the next flight from Denver to San Francisco with space for a wheelchair would not be till Wednesday. But, David hearing the disappointment in her voice, called the airline back. Somewhat assertive, he got them booked on the midnight flight.


Hurriedly, they made it to the Denver airport in time. Ann and Danny had never flown before. They held their faces pushed up to the glass. The flashing lights, planes, equipment and the spur-of-the-moment nature of their trip to an unknown place just added to their excitement. David sat unusually quiet next to Marcea as they waited for their boarding call. Something was digging at him. He had to ask. "What happened with your torn shirt and all? Is there something these men did to you?"

Marcea wanted to forget the whole ordeal, she felt so violated. But she also needed to share what had happened in order to put it all behind her. "The fat guy Mr. Henderson tore my shirt." Marcea stopped to get her breath. "Then Kirk came back in and made me dance for him."

"What do you mean dance?" David whispered.

"He videotaped me and made me strip."

"What do you mean, made you strip? Did he hold a gun to your head?"

"No, he just made me do it. I had to," Marcea said, almost as though she had to defend herself.

"I bet you wanted to. It's just like when I met you. You enjoy it." David was tired and just kept going on. "You probably put on a good show for these so-called dangerous men. I'm probably the laughing stock of their department. I bet they made copies of the tape to pass out. When I turn over the Clipper Chip they will all be telling me what a great dancer you are."

Marcea could not believe what she was hearing. "So what makes you so good and clean? We met at the club I was dancing at. What were you doing there?"

"I had been going to that club for years before they turned it into a dance club. Women like you ruined it. All these sick perverted types started showing up and you fed their sick appetites. Sure, I saw you dance. I watched. But I'm not proud of it." David's voice was rising and a few curious passengers tried to tune in.

Marcea started to cry. "David, I had to take that job to feed my kids. When we got to Denver, I only had but five dollars. The other night I danced because I feared for my children's lives. I did not enjoy it."

"Sure!" David said, stood and started to walked away.

As Marcea ran after him, the passengers watched the saga unfold. "Please David, you have to believe me. I never did enjoy dancing. I just didn't have a choice.

David turned and said, "You're wrong Marcea. You did have a choice. You just took the easy road. Don't you see? You are just as guilty as all those men? You fed their addictions. Would there be any drug addicts if there were no drugs? You are the drug pusher. Your stripping helped feed the moral demise of society. You just won't face it." David had wanted to say this ever since he asked Marcea to quit dancing and move in with him. Now it was over; he finally got it off his chest.

A voice over the P.A. said, "Flight forty-four to San Francisco is boarding now." Marcea and David stood looking at each other. This had suddenly become a good-bye that might mean forever. David looked over at Ann and Danny, their faces still pressed up to the glass. "Tell the kids I will miss them." David turned and walked down the long corridor, not once looking back.


Once home, David numbly turned into the driveway. The mobile home was dark and uncomfortably quiet. The clock from the VCR, the only light, read 1:45. It was only now — too late — that he was ashamed for the way he always seemed to act at airports. David felt his way down the hall, not even turning on a light and he fell on his bed. The sweetness of Marcea's scent lingered in the pillows. His life in one day had done a complete turnabout. He thought of blaming God but didn't. Instead, he asked God to make sure Marcea, Ann and Danny would find a good life.

The longer he lay there the more totally alone David felt. Still in his clothes, he tossed and turned on top of the bed. The clock radio on the dresser slowly ticked off time. It was now 3:30. Too tired, and beyond sleep, David's mind was on its second wind. I bet those guys will be here first thing in the morning with a plan to trade the tape of Marcea dancing for the Clipper Chip. I'll just tell them to keep the tape. But if they have a search warrant, I lose both ways. I should hide the Clipper Chip so that I have something to plea bargain with, if need be. They don't know who they are dealing with. I'll show them.

David got up and went to the kitchen. Taking three heavy trash bags from a cupboard and grabbing a flashlight, he went out the back door. He grabbed the computer and Clipper Chip from the truck. He triple bagged them and then used the flashlight to find a shovel. There was a small patch of trees at the far edge of the field. It was here that David started digging a hole, right behind some brush and between two of the smaller trees.

The digging was hard because of the root system of the Aspens. While taking a break, David noticed the headlights of a car coming down the road, slowing in front of his home then going on. A car on this road at four in the morning was unusual. David watched the bright red stoplights come on and then, just past his house, the headlights went off. David put his hand over the flashlight beam, found the switch and turned it off. Carefully, he worked himself closer. When he was within about fifty feet of the mobile home, he saw someone coming around back. David froze, then ever so slowly laid down in the middle of the field. Because of the camouflage outfit, he could barely see the person, but David could see whoever slide a box under his house. He crawled closer, tightening his grip on the shovel and preparing to attack. After the intruder pushed the box way through the crawl space and stood up, the rear porch light silhouetted him. David could make out a ponytail. Danny's message said that the guy named Kirk had a ponytail and also carried a gun. David needed to get closer. He was just about ready to charge when another man came around the corner, pouring something all around the foundation. When they went around front, David jumped up, shovel in hand, ready to charge. Instinctively, David's nostrils took a whiff of . . . gasoline!

Suddenly a bright flash from around front followed the gasoline's trail all around the perimeter of the mobile home. In less than a few seconds everything David owned was in the center of the inferno. The heat was intense! David used the shovel blade in front of his face as a shield. Adrenaline pumping, he started running diagonally toward the parked car, but before he took two steps there was a bright flash and then an explosion that blew him back ten yards. David landed on his back, his ears bleeding. Summoning every bit of his strength, David struggled to his knees. Too disorientated to stand, and with his vision going in and out, from the light of the fire he was able to get a glimpse of a white four-door sedan pull away. David lost consciousness and fell face first in the field of tall grass.


The firemen were busy winding up their hoses by the time David came to. He got to his knees and was just about to yell for help when the white four-door sedan pulled up. Dropping back down in the tall grass, David crawled across the field to the clump of trees where he had buried his computer and the Clipper Chip.

The bright rising sun didn't help David keep track of the car. Instead, it made his head throb, as he had a concussion. Using his hands to dig like a dog, David reached the plastic. He pulled the green garbage sacks and the earth released his computer. He looked back one last time. Except for the computer and Clipper Chip, all he owned was a flat blackened pile of rubble. Everything was destroyed; even his Harley was beyond recognition. Turning his back, he walked away from it all. Everything he worked for gone. But even in his misery he thought, thank God, I got them on that midnight flight.



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