Our suitcases were packed and sitting in a corner by the door waiting for Richard to pick us up for the airport. Helen was no small fish as I may have thought. She knew people, people on the police force, ones that were willing to listen to her, ones that owed her favors. After she explained her plan of luring Joseph into their hands, the chief insisted on using a female officer as the decoy but Helen wouldn’t let it fly. She was use to having her way and this time would be no different. I hoped and prayed for her plan to work, because this was our only chance of freedom.
There were just two days left until we could fly out of the country Joseph was a loose end and I couldn’t afford to leave him untied. Even though she did not have kids of her own, Helen had been in situations where she had to flee from her ex-husband. In fact her name wasn’t even Helen, she was born Marjorie Dorothy Collins. She’d changed her name several times in an effort to escape from Wayne. From what she’d told me he was worst than Joseph in many ways. Still she managed to get away from him. His crimes were worthy enough to land him in a maximum security facility after he was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for murdering Helen’s fiancé.
About a week before we were scheduled to leave, I quit my job and stayed home every day and send the boys to school. In the mornings, Richard would pick them up and then collect them from school. For her plan to work Helen needed both of us to be at home all day.
Joseph parked the red 1998 Ford pickup along the curb and waited patiently for school to dismiss. This was it. He wasn’t going to wait any longer to take his children from Karen. He watched as Jaden walked out all by himself with one strap of his knapsack slung across his shoulder. He started up the engine, but just as he was about to pull off the curb, Jaden got into a car that was waiting for him. He followed cautiously as they stopped to pick up J.J. He bit back a curse as he watched his youngest get into the car. Everything was in place. The only thing in his way was Karen and that man. He followed them back to the apartment and watched patiently as the kids got out of the car and went inside, but Richard left. Now was his chance. Joseph opened the door and put one foot to the ground before he could get out of the car. Karen came out of the building wearing a knee length tan coat, sun glasses and that stupid hat.
This was too easy, he said to himself, chances are she left the kids with that incompetent friend of hers again. Taking the boys would be a piece of cake, but he couldn’t resist, he had a longing an eagerness to make her suffer, this was his chance to get rid of her for good. He got back into the car and followed her. Helen peeked behind her, and realized that he was taking the bait. She held her breath and tried not to look suspicious as she walked. She glanced over her shoulder, and saw his car creeping slowly along the curd behind her. She tucked her hands into the coat pockets, her slow steps turned into a brisk walk as she glanced over her shoulder again.
“She actually thinks some cheap sunglasses and a tacky hair cut could fool me.” He mumbled. Helen pulled the large collar up around her neck, and then dashed across the street. Tires screeched and horns screamed as drivers swerved to avoid hitting her. A car slammed into the side of Joseph’s car as he pulled away from the curb to go after her. Helen broke out into a run when she saw him coming toward her. She ran down the sidewalk looking back and bumping into pedestrians as she ran. Her breathing got faster and her heart began to pound against her ribcage. He slowed to a brisk walk as he watched her run down the narrow corridor of two buildings that led to a dead end. She was trapped with nowhere to go now. He reached into his coat pocket, and pulled out the 28 revolver and fired. The bullet ricocheted of a wall Helen’s steps halted as the explosion hit her ears. She closed her eyes tightly, and anticipated the worst.
“I told you that I would find you. Karen, there’s no escaping from me.” His voice was coarse and unforgiving.
Helen’s chest rose and fell quickly as her labored breath left her lungs. Her back was still turned to him. She heard his footsteps get closer. The disguise had fooled him, but now that he was getting ever closer to her that charade couldn’t protect her.
“I want to see the look on your face when I say my final goodbye.” He grabbed her shoulder and turned her to face him, his eyes grew wide as she removed the sunglasses. He was puzzled. He hoisted the gun and aimed at her.
“Who are you?” She gave no answer as she stared into his eyes. He analyzed her from head to feet, and then yelled the question again with bitter anger and frustration. She refused to answer and just stared at him. Joseph started to recognize her.
“You’re Karen’s idiot friend. I must say I’m surprised to see you. The two of you put together have a brain after all.” Surely she should have been dead, but since she was still alive, this was the perfect opportunity to finish what he started..
“You’re clever but your little game can’t stop me.” Her two shaking hands rose from her side as she noticed the little red dots dancing across his body. Her eyes went to the windows above the ally.
Joseph picked up that something was wrong, and followed the line of her sight.
“Drop the weapon, and get on the ground!” A voice came from a window above him. He saw the little red dots dancing around on his clothing then looked up and saw several snipers aiming at him. Frightened, he turned around and pointed the gun at one of the windows, but the voice came again, more aggressively warning him to drop the gun. But he and grabbed Helen, he pressed the gun to her temple.
“I’ll kill her I mean it!” But the rifles were still pointed at him. The explosion echoed in the alley. The revolver dropped to the ground as the bullet from the snipers rifle ripped through Joseph’s hand. He grabbed his bleeding hand and dropped down on one knee, applying pressure to the wound.
“Don’t move get down on the ground now!” A voice came from behind him. Two officers picked him up, and led him back to the sidewalk. This time, the scene was a lot different, a dozen police cars was lined up waiting for him. Helen sighed and finally began to breathe properly when Joseph was strapped to a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance under police guard.
Richard was supposed to come back and take us to the airport the moment Joseph had taken the bait, but he was late. After about twenty minutes of waiting, I was relieved to hear a knock at the door. I had the boys get their things ready and answered the door.
“Cassidy, what are you doing here?” I gasped, and attempted to slam the door, but she was armed. She forced her way in and closed the door behind her.
“I swear he can’t get one thing right. I have to finish this myself.” She said as she aimed the gun at us and fumbled with her phone.
“Cassidy, stop this before it’s too late.” Using my body as a shield I tried to protect my kids slowly backing them into the kitchen.
“Kids get your stuff now. We’re leaving!” she said as she took another step closer, she checked her phone again and complain some more. My gaze fixed behind her. Richard crept in slowly, she turned around to face him. Richard swatted the gun from her hand grabbed her arm, and wrestled her to the ground, but she flipped him and tried to strangle him. I picked up a lamp and smashed it across her back. She rolled over on the floor moaning.
The kids and I assisted Richard to his feet.
“Are you guys all right?”
I threw my head back, closed my eyes, and breathed a sigh of relief. It was the end of the day and Joseph’s reign of terror had also ended. I looked over at my children sitting beside me and smiled joyfully. Each passing moment took us farther away from a life of complete horror, and brought us closer to a new beginning. There was a brand new job waiting for me in Dominica, and my sister had everything in place to accommodate us. As much as I missed Helen and Richard, I was happy to finally be away from Northridge. I looked out the little window at the plush clouds laying gracefully in the evening sky, and felt ease and comfort even though we were a mile off the ground. Everything wasn’t perfect though. I was leaving behind good friends and taking only memories with me, one that would be cherished forever. My sis did an extraordinary job of convincing the boys that they would have plenty fun on the island.
They were planning all sort of adventure and discussing all the new things they wanted to try. The minute I was caught staring I looked away and pretended not to hear what they were talking about. Flying first class felt so good, thanks to Helen and Richard who paid for out upgrade. The cool soft pillow beneath my neck, the couple glasses of Chardonnay and the comfort of the seat took me to paradise. I started to plan my own little adventures. First, a long hot bath, then a trip to see my new work place, some shopping would also do me well, I needed new clothes. And of course those parties Sharon’s been telling me about. I could feel the cool island breeze already and taste the delicious seafood on my tongue.
The atmosphere was more than relaxing. First on Sharon’s agenda was finding me a date. According to her I needed to get back into the water and a cook out on a tropical island was the perfect place to start. We danced under the moonlight as the steel drums played our worries away. Then, the torches started to flicker, as a chilling wind filled the night. Everyone was still as a low rumbling sound got louder. As if an engine was trapped under ground and revving up, getting ready to break free.
The Earth started to quake vigorously, I felt like I was falling from the fifty third floor of a skyscraper as a terrifying scream filled the world. I felt Jaden hugged me tightly and covered my mouth with his cheek.
It was then that I realized, the scream that I heard was my own. The plane had flown into an air pocket and interrupted my beautiful fantasy. The turbulence lasted for a few minutes, though it felt like hours. The plane felt like it was falling from the sky. I turns out I was the only one screaming like a banshee. Another passenger across the aisle asked me if it was my first time flying. Sharon was there at the airport waiting for us when we landed.
She was radiant in a floral maxi dress and sandals. He skin tone was always a shade or two lighter than mine, and her hair and little bit curlier and silkier. I watched my older sister play with her nephews as a way of greeting them.
“Oh you’ve gotten so big!” She said to Jaden. “And look at you, I can tell who’s the man of the house little guy. Oh I missed you too so much. C’mere and give you aunty a big hug!”
“You didn’t have to come Sharon, it wouldn’t have been any trouble to catch a cab to your place.”
“That’s no way to greet your big sis. Get over here.” She embraced me in a long hug that nearly took my breath away.
“Terry is so excited to see you guys again. He’s off to run a few errands. C’mon let’s go the fun is waiting.” We all followed her lead as she led us the car.
“I hope you guys like hiking and mountain climbing adventures. The island is a natural wonder that is almost entirely covered in mountains. You know Karen that’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with the place.” I was attentive, but so anxious to see the place again, The kids and I had only been here one other time. And it was marvelous. I needed to be in the house even though we were on the ground and miles away from the US, I needed to there to finally fell safe.
“We need to make a quick stop in town before we head home everybody, just hold on for a sec.” We drove through the town of Roseau and made a quick stop at the market for some fresh produce and fish. The buildings were brightly colored, lined along clean streets with greenery as for as the eye could see. We made our way out of the town and headed to the mountains. We felt the incline, but the Jeep could handle it. Painted in crisp white with a yellow shingle roof, Sharon’s home sat gracefully on the edge of a cliff with the green forest of the mountain as a back drop. The moment the car stopped, the boys rushed out and into the house. I heard the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ as they ran through the house exploring.
Sharon walked to the kitchen to put down the grocery we picked up at the market. The cool breeze flooding in from outside invited me to follow her. Outside on the cliff, a pool with crystal clear blue water and a black steel railing greeted me. The breeze caressed my face and whipped the little bits of hair poking out of my bun around my face. I walked over to the rail, smiling from ear to ear and loosened my bun. There was a tingle in my tummy, I guess those were butterflies, I didn’t try to hold ’em back as I threw my hands in the air, threw my head back and let the words roll out.
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