“I hardly knew that man in there,” Marka said, gulping for air. “He scared me so. What did that evil woman do to him?”
“I don’t know, honey. But I’d like to kill her myself.”
“Not as much as I want to,” Marka growled. “I’m not a violent person,” she told Rochelle. “But she’s injured someone I love. Who knows if he’ll ever be back to himself.”
“We never did stop for that notebook,” Rochelle said suddenly. “You wanted one, remember?”
“Yes! I bet they have them at the store downtown.”
“Then let’s go.”
They went down the stairs and out the back. Rochelle led her through the woods again and back to her car. They drove quickly to the small store downtown. Marka found the stationary section and grabbed a few of the essay notebooks. After paying for them, she took them outside and dropped them on the sidewalk. She kicked them around, telling Rochelle to step on them a few times. She picked them up, curling them, bending the spines.
“There, that looks pretty good.”
“His had the dates on them.”
“Oh, crap. You’re right.” She took a pen out of her purse. Most of the dates had been written in black ink. She visualized Frank’s neat printing in her mind and did her best to imitate it. Afterward, she scrubbed them around on the sidewalk again. Satisfied with their appearance, she stuffed them in the plastic bag once more.
“You gonna write in them too?” Rochelle asked.
“I hadn’t thought of that. No. I don’t think we have time for that. If Liz isn’t here yet, she will be. Let’s get back. I’m worried about James with Frank. I have no idea how long that drug will hold him.”
“What did you give him?”
“I crunched up some Benadryl and put it in the coffee.”
“That shit makes me sleepy as hell.”
“That’s what I’m counting on.”
They headed back to the nursing home. There were police cars and more federal agents around. An ambulance stood on the lawn outside the blue house. Marka saw Colonel Shay. Before getting out of the car, she called him.
As soon as he heard her voice, Colonel Shay looked up, casting about the area, trying to find her. “Where are you? I’ve been worried sick since I got your call.”
“I had my phone off. I’ve been with Frank. His cop friend, James, is with him now. He’s sleeping in our room.”
“What? I have the entire police force here and feds everywhere, scouring the countryside and he’s asleep!”
“He might not be for long. He was pretty agitated when I drugged him.”
“I’m sending people up there now.”
“No. Only you and me. He barely knew who I was. He should recognize you, though. You’ve known him a lot longer.”
“Okay. Where are you?”
Marka hopped out of the car and waved at him. Shay saw her and struck out across the lawn to the waiting car. Marka introduced him to Rochelle. The federal officer drove them closer to the facility. There were so many cars around, hers wouldn’t be noticed. They stood outside a moment, studying the lay of the land.
“Any sign of Liz?” Marka asked Shay.
“Not her, but that was her handiwork at the house. No one’s seen her since she left the courthouse.”
“She definitely got away?” Rochelle asked.
“Well, she tortured Cherry and Brad. . . .”
“She did that before she went to Canton,” Marka said. “Their wounds weren’t bleeding when I got there. That extent of damage, they would still have been bleeding so soon after. We were only minutes behind her escape. I bet we beat her here. We weren’t trying to evade the law and cover our tracks.”
“Then where the hell is she?”
“She’s got to have a safe house nearby,” Marka said. “She couldn’t be—Oh, my God. It’s so obvious.”
“My house. It must be. It makes perfect sense.”
“What are you talking about. Your house? You have a room here.”
“My house is being worked on before I move in. But it’s deserted right now. They’ve been waiting for some parts or something. The point is, it would be easy to break in. No one’s seen me. She could pass as the new resident easily enough.”
“Where’s this house?” Shay asked.
Marka walked a few feet away and faced her property, less than a block away, across the street.
“Bloody hell!” Shay muttered. “Give me that thing,” he gestured to Rochelle’s radio.
She undid the clasp, handing it to him. Shay got on there, barking orders to whomever would listen. He glared at the house across the street.
“Marka, I hope you’re not too attached to that place.”
“Not really,” she said, hesitantly.
“Good. Because I’m about to level it.”
© Dellani Oakes