I left Helen’s place and went to the police station and demanded to speak to the chief. After a long wait, I was directed to a thin slender man with a bushy mustache that seemed like a cruel joke on his rather narrow pale face. I told him my situation in the best way possible, and tried to point out the urgency of the matter in vivid detail. I described it to him the way someone would summarize a movie to a friend: beginning, middle, and end.
He took a manila envelope from an officer that approached him and tried to look busy.
“We are aware of the escape of Mr. Tanner mam. And we are doing all that we can to assist with the investigation and hunt for him.” There wasn’t much they could do unless he showed up in Northridge. I was even more worried than ever when I realized that the police were still unable to protect us from Joseph.
Helen and I were both nurses and we worked at the same hospital. I dropped by to borrow her car so I could pick up the boys from school. They took the news with grace. It seems they were anticipating bad news. Jaden suggested that we go to see their aunt, Cassidy. He thought that she might have been able to help us figure things out. Cassidy was Joseph’s younger sister; she lived in an affluent town adjacent to Northridge. The boys loved visiting her, and she let them stay over every other weekend, I had no idea she was living so close to Northridge when we moved there.
I ran into her in town one afternoon a few months after we arrived. She bragged about her new office, saying that she moved there to set up her own private practice. It was typical of her to brag, especially about things she knew we couldn’t afford. I thought it strange that she moved to set up her own practice in a small town like Northridge. She was flourishing in the city, it seemed logical that she could have set up shop there. Junior’s excitement blossomed as we pulled in the drive way. The two story Victorian sitting on its double wide lot, with white lattice running down the sides, and breath taking white and yellow roses sitting in the garden made you r breath stop from looking at it. I know they were thinking of the pool in the back yard and the wide open space to play football with their Uncle. These were some of the few reasons why I allowed them to come here in the first place, so they could enjoy some of the comforts that I couldn’t afford to give them.
Cassidy was Joseph’s biggest fan in a strange brother sister kind of way. She was the only relative who respected him, probably the only one that truly loved him. She tried for years to get close to me, but I never liked the way she always defended her brother even when he was dead wrong. So we were never really good friends in fact we weren’t friends at all.
Cassidy and her husband Henry, did not have children of their own, and they were very fond of the boys. Henry was home when we got there. They were both thrilled to see the boys, surprised that I brought them over on a school day, but still quite happy to see them.
Henry took them out back while Cassidy and I went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. As always being around Cassidy made me feel inferior. She had a taste for the finer things in life, and seemed to forget that not everyone else was a thriving psychiatrist who can afford Caviar and Chanel boots. Her fine China made me nervous just to hold it. It seemed she was about to host a party or expecting very important company.
There was an impressive array of fine delicacy spread out on the counter and kitchen table, along with expensive disposable dinner ware. I settled onto a stool at the marble top kitchen island holding the delicate cup and saucer in shaking hands. I started slowly telling her about my meeting with the chief. All the time assuming that she was aware of her brother’s new found liberation.
She pretended not to her the part about his escape as she poured her own coffee. She walked over to the island, put down the cup with all manner of sophistication and started.
“So how are things? How are the boys doing in school? Henry and I are thinking of a vacation in the tropics soon and we were wondering if the boys could come along. You may come too, if you wish it would be no problem.” She said with what I think was her trying to be polite.
“Did you hear what I just said about Joseph?”
“Karen, do you always have to ruin everything? Can’t we just have a nice cup of coffee together without, you stirring up old shit?”
“I mean you know what this is. He is just frustrated from not seeing his kids for such a long time. Give him a break Karen. You know your marriage would have worked if you had not stressed him out so much and tear him from his children.”
“I didn’t come here for you to blame me for your brother being a jerk that runs his family like a dictator. You know what I am sorry, Cassidy I am sorry I came.”
“There you go taking offence at every little thing. Can’t you just face up to and accept the truth? I mean it would make your life a whole lot easier.”
“And I should take advice from you because…you’re such a great doctor and knows what’s best for everybody. I have heard enough. You and your deranged brother can stay in your imaginary world where all you psychopathic fantasies will come through.” Her lips curled into a smile, but her brows knitted and her eyes told clearly that she was getting angry and frustrated.
“Karen, the past is the past okay. He’s changed he wouldn’t hurt you guys, I know him he is my big brother.” she said, all innocent.
“Well he’s not the sweet little boy you used to play with in the backyard anymore.” I said impatiently with more than noticeable disdain in my voice.
“No, I know my brother. He didn’t mean to do what he did…” she put on a wide smile, pressing a palm to her chest gently.
“He didn’t mean to do what he did? Cassidy, he locked me out in the rain, he threw a clothes iron at me while I was six months pregnant with his son! How could you say that?”
“Joseph’s a sensitive guy, and he had his ways, but I’m sure he never meant to hurt you. This is just a misunderstanding.” Her attitude didn’t surprise me. She always stood up for Joseph no matter what.
“I’ve lived with your brother for years, and every time he did something horrible to me and the kids it was a misunderstanding? I shouldn’t have come here; you’ve always been like this. You never gave him the blame when he was wrong. Well, sorry I came along and messed up your brother’s perfect world.” I shot up from the stool and grabbed the keys off the counter and went to the backyard where Henry and the kids where playing football.
“Come on guys, it’s time to go!”
“You’re leaving already? You just got here. Is everything ok?” Henry questioned.
“You know what; go ask your perfect wife.”
“Okay guys, I’ll see you next week.” He yelled to the kids from the back yard as we were leaving.
“I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.” I mumbled as we walked to the front door. I could hear him shouting at Cassidy in the kitchen, asking her what she did to make me so upset.
“Is everything going to be ok mom,” J.J looked up at me with curious eyes and asked.
“Everything’s going to be fine Junior.” I had made up my mind; I was going to move so far away from Cassidy and her brother that not even the government could find us. I
Richard called that night to check up on me, we had not spoken since he dropped me off at Helen’s place. He was concerned because I was so tense and I still was. I didn’t tell him what was going on, but he offered to take me out, trying to sell the experience as a relaxing one. He went on about me needing time for myself and taking a step back relaxing. He promised to make our date special and one that I would never forget.
Maybe I did need to calm down. That is what Helen was trying to get me to do. Could they both be wrong? I tried to be reasonable and thought about it.
I really wasn’t certain that Joseph was trying to find us. Maybe he had given up after all the failed attempts of kidnapping the kids and trying kill me. I did need time to think things thru. The police had no idea where Josephs was heading, and there were no reports or sighting of him anywhere near the area. I couldn’t relax, I knew but deep down inside I didn’t want to run. So I convinced myself that I could take a little time, just enough to come up with a good plan.
One date wouldn’t hurt; I told myself that it was just to help me get my mind straightened out. We made arrangements to go out that weekend. Helen was very excited, maybe even more excited than I was. All I could think about was the possibility that Joseph was on his way to Northridge on a blood thirsty hunt for me and the kids. I really wanted to take my mind of the problem, and it seemed worrying about it was just making me sick, so I allowed myself to get a bit excited about the date.