Friday, July 1, 2005, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Allison Pritchard brought four dishes to the dinner table. Her children, Raquel and Harry, were distributing utensils. Her husband, Allan, was away, leading a church youth camp for the weekend. The fourth plate would be for his mother, Harriet, who was carrying the rice and fried chicken dishes from the kitchen.
“It’s Greg,” Raquel squealed, looking out the window of the Victorian house on Bishop Street.
Allison’s jaw dropped. She was only eleven.
There was a knock on the door and Raquel leaped to unlock and open it.
“Hi! Come on in!”
The man wore a black leather coat, pants, and boots. He had shoulder-length greasy brown hair and stubble on his chin and upper lip. The wild look in his eyes made Allison take a step back.
“Howdy, missus,” he drawled before his mouth curved into a grin. “Where does your husband keep his Bible camp stash?”
Allison’s eyes jumped from the man to Raquel, who dragged out a duffel bag from behind the couch.
“I’m gonna go live with Greg in Philly, Mom! We’re gonna get married when I’m old enough!”
“Raquel! There’s no way…”
“Give me the money.” Greg dug out a handgun from an inside coat pocket. It had a silencer. He pointed the gun at Allison.
“No,” she said. “You’re not taking my daughter anywhere.”
“Oh, don’t worry, lady! I’m not taking this little runt. All I’m after is the bank bag.”
“You’re not taking me?” Raquel wailed.
Allison pitied her daughter. Raquel wanted to be a big girl, to have a boyfriend, to be loved by a man. Allan took care of other people’s children better than his own.
Greg took a step toward Allison.
She shook her head. There wouldn’t be much in there. She didn’t have time to tell that to Greg before he aimed the gun at the light fixture above him and fired. Harry ducked under the dining table as glass tinkled onto the hardwood floor.
“Oh my God!” Harriet screamed. “Get the money, Allison!”
“All right! Don’t hurt anyone!”
“Chop chop, lady!”
She raced up the stairs and got the bank bag out of the bedroom dresser drawer. Turning back on her way out, she spotted the telephone jack near the floor beside the bedroom door. They hadn’t had a phone in the bedroom for years because Allan’s talking habits had disturbed her, but she kept a spare telephone and cord in the closet in case of emergencies.
She dived into her closet and kept throwing things out until she found what she was looking for. The wire clicked into the jack and she called 911.
“Hey, what’s taking so long?” Greg bellowed.
“Nine one one, what’s your emergency?”
“I need the police! He has a gun,” Allison whispered. She left the receiver on the floor and sprinted out the door as the woman on the other end said “Ma’am? What’s your name?”
“Here,” she said breathlessly as she thrust the faux-leather bag at Greg. He counted the bills.
“Only a hundred bucks? Is this a joke?”
“My husband left for camp and used the money for supplies.”
“You said there’d be at least a thousand,” he growled at Raquel who was cowering behind the couch.
Something snapped inside Allison.
“Get out of here.”
“Get out? Not before you’ve given me some satisfaction,” he said slowly. “A hundred dollars won’t get you a free pass.” He unzipped the zipper of his black leather pants and dug out his penis from the slit in his boxer shorts. “Start sucking, lady. If you don’t, your mom’s dead meat.”
“She’s not my mom.”
“Then your son.”
Blood drained from her face. He was only seven and still her baby.
“That got your attention. Start sucking. I have all the time in the world.”
He did not have all the time in the world if the 911 dispatcher had done her job.
Greg gestured with his gun toward Harry, who was still under the table.
“On your knees, or little guy is toast.”
Allison made eye contact with Greg as she did as she was told. He was pushing his erect penis into her mouth, guiding it in with his left hand while the right hand held the gun. Before he had pushed it far enough to activate her gag reflex, she lifted her left hand in one swift motion. She took a hold of the gun’s barrel and the silencer as she clenched her jaw and jerked her head down at the same time as she forced the barrel to point at the floor.
He screamed. She wrenched the gun away, sprang up, and kicked him in the belly. Greg dropped to the floor with a yell and someone pounded on the door.
“This is the police! Open up!”
“Open the door, Raquel,” Allison said. Amazingly, Raquel did as she was told. Allison offered the first policeman the gun when he stepped into the living room. They handcuffed Greg and took him away to get medical attention first and to the county slammer second.
Allison had been a stay-at-home mother, but the Greg incident spurred her to get a job as a copy editor at the Central State Courier. She had stayed in her dead marriage until Harry had graduated from high school. Then she moved to live with a former coworker on the other side of Bellefonte.