The sun was up before I got to Helen’s side of town. On the way over, I tried to put together the words to explain to the kids what had happened at my apartment that night. There was no way we could stay in Northridge. I finally got to Helen’s, and went up to her apartment. After a few unanswered knocks I turned the lock and went in. The living room floor was littered with broken glass, and some of the furniture was overturned and out of place.
I ran to the kitchen and called out to the boys, but I got no answer back. I started to call out for Helen, but when she didn’t respond, I ran to the guest room to find the boys and tripped on Helen lying unconscious in the hallway with blood running from her mouth. I checked for a pulse she was barely breathing. I screamed for help. I knew right away that Joseph had taken my kids. I called the police, and sat on the floor next to her with her cold hand in mine.
There was movement across the hall, Mr. Watson, an elderly man who lived across the hall from her, was peeking through his door.
“Mr. Watson, do you know what happened here? Did you see who took my kids?” He drew back into the apartment and slammed the door. I got up and ran across the hall and rapped at the door furiously. He opened the door and yelled “what?”
“Please, I need your help sir. Did you see what happened? Who took my kids and did this to Helen?” He turned and walked into the apartment.
“I don’t want to get involved!” he said. I felt a little more optimistic; knowing that he had possibly seen what took place.
“What don’t you want to get involved with? Please Mr. Watson, my kids might be in danger, you have to tell me!” He stopped and stood still for a minute, and walked back to the door and looked at me pitifully he started to speak slowly.
“Last night, I heard someone knock at her door. I came to have a look; I thought it was that kid from down the hall trying to sell her something again. But it was a tall fellow with a scraggly beard and brown hair. She opened the door a little, but as soon as she saw him, she tried to close the door. She did not want to talk to him at all, but he pushed his way in, and that’s when the ruckus started. I heard screams, and then I saw the man leaving with the little boy over his shoulder, and the bigger boy was trying to take him away from the man. That’s it that all I know.”
“That’s it, that’s all. Mr. Watson did you call the police?”
“No! It’s none of my business lady. I told you I don’t want to get involved with any of you people.” He walked over to me and just kept coming at me till I was out of the apartment. He grabbed the door and slammed it in my face. Mr. Watson was a proud, mean old jerk who didn’t care about any one.
A few times Helen and I made the mistake of offering to help him with his grocery bags, but he just yelled insults at us. The thought of Joseph alone with my kids mortified me. I had no clue what to do, so I called Richard but I got his voice mailbox. I left a message, and told him that I really needed to talk to him. The cops and the ambulance finally arrived.
They questioned me and Mr. Watson but he didn’t tell them what he had told me. Instead he said he heard and saw nothing. I told them about Joseph and the attack at my place, they took notes but that was that. Cassidy, I thought, she must know something. I told the cops about her, they said that they would check up on her.
I decided to go and see Cassidy myself. I needed to get to the bottom of things and finish this once and for all.
All the time, I had assumed that Cassidy had no contact with her brother. She was his only family now, it was a real possibility that he did contact her. If this was true, then Joseph might be there which means my kids were there. I took Helen’s car and drove to Cassidy’s place. There were no lights in the window as I pulled into the driveway slowly. I saw a very familiar white van parked in front of the house. Mr. Campbell had the exact same one. He lived down the block from us, and used his van to deliver flowers for Mrs. Patterson who owned a flower shop on the same street.
I got out of the car, went up to the front door, and rang the doorbell. Cassidy came to the door, she seemed irritated by my visit.
“What are you doing here” she asked barely hiding her displeasure.
“I really need to talk to you something bad has happened, and I didn’t know where else to turn....” Her eyes went to something behind the door.
“Sure, yeah, come in.” She suddenly sounded more cheerful. She looked back at me with a nervous laugh. I took a few careful steps into the room, I felt the presence of someone else in the room. As I turned to have a look, I was hit me across the head.
My temples were thumping, and my neck hurt like crazy. My head bobbled around as I tried to lift it. The room was spinning, and I was a bit nauseous. I tried hard to remember what happened, but my head felt like it weighed fifty pounds, my neck failed to carry the weight, and I sat there with my chin on my chest until my mind began to clear up. I was at Cassidy’s, trying to tell her about Joseph when someone knocked me unconscious.
The pieces fell into place as I realized that I was bound with duct tape to a wooden chair in a drafty room with a small dirty window which was the only source of light. I jerked back and forth trying to free an arm or leg like an insect trapped in a spider’s web.
My eyes swept the room as I tried to figure out where I was. There was a table pushed up against the wall underneath the little window, and the rest of the chairs for an old dining set. An old corduroy recliner and a record player were tucked in one corner as well as some shelves with a battalion of vinyl records. Directly in front of me, wooden steps led up to a white door. I heard voices above me. I was in a basement, Cassidy’s I knew. The voices moved closer to the door, the voices became clearer, and I recognized the speakers, Cassidy and Joseph!
The chair was screeching loudly from all the swinging and swaying, but I could hear my abductors at the door. A chill shot up my spine as I steadied the chair and watched the door anxiously. It opened and let in some of the heat from upstairs. I heard the light switch flicked, the light burned my eyes as it filled the space. He came down first, clapping slowly, and wearing a sinister smile as wide as the Ganges.
“Well, well, well we meet again and under perfect circumstances. This is exactly how I imagined it would be. It’s nice to have you so close again. I’ve waited for this moment for 641 days.”
I had a few choice words for him, but was unable to say them because of the tape over my mouth.
“There is so much fire in your eyes. I bet you want to do something horrible to me, don’t you? Well I have the very same sentiment for you, but it looks like I’m gonna have my way, since you’re the one tied to a chair.” He circled the chair, pulling his fingers through my hair as he spoke. I lunged forward with every bit of strength that I had. The chair lifted from its place and thudded back to the floor. He jumped back and laughed maniacally.
“Whoa! That’s what am talking bout. You can’t wait to get your hands on me don’t you?”
“Okay Joseph, enough! Quit messing around. What are we going to do with her? We can’t just keep her here Henry will kill me if he finds out that we have her down here.” Cassidy said irritably
“Calm down sis, I got this under control, just keep Henry upstairs when he gets home. Okay?” He raised his voice, and pointed to the door. She looked at him with great displeasure and stomped back up the steps. I sat there wondering what his next move would be. He turned back to me, bracing both hands on his knees. He leaned in to me.
“How about a kiss for old time’s sake honey?”
“Joseph come up here,” Cassidy’s voice echoed from upstairs. He drew back, rolled his eyes, and then threw his hands in the air. He climbed the steps chuckling and grinning as he looked over his shoulder back at me.
“What do you mean they are not in the house. Where are they?” his anger roared through the flooring down to the basement.
“They are not here,” Cassidy said timidly.
“Did you check outside?” She did not reply. I heard her murmuring, and then the talking stopped. I speculated that the “they” Cassidy and Joseph were referring to were my kids. Evidently they were at the house, but not anymore. I was glad that they got away from Joseph. They are clever boys, but I was worried about them being out there on their own with him after them. I wore myself out trying to get free, but it was no use. I didn’t hear either Cassidy or Joseph upstairs, and they never came back down to the basement.
Horrible thoughts ran through my mind. I knew they went after the kids. I imagined what Joseph might have done had he found them. I hoped, I prayed that they were clever enough to go to the police, or at least find Richard and ask him for help.