Between the Lines

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Chapter 37

Keeley was feeling quite dejected when she walked home after saying good night to Kira, Claire and Lily. What if it was just a crazy coincidence? What if they never found out who the murderer was? What if it was someone who had moved away years ago? Actually, if you were going to murder two people, it would make a lot of sense to move far away from the scene of the crime, especially after enough time had passed that leaving town wouldn't make you look guilty. Who would want to stay and have to constantly worry about getting caught? Whoever it was, they were probably living it up in Hawaii or Mexico. If that was the case, they would likely never be caught.

Just before she arrived at her house, a sports car, being driven faster than the posted speed limit, sped past her, and pulled up in front of her house with a squeal of brakes. Immediately, the lights were cut, and the door opened. Keeley had stopped walking, wondering what on earth this erratic driver was doing. Had he or she been drinking?

A woman got out of the car, and barely taking the time to close the door, ran towards Keeley. As she got closer, Keeley recognized Chelsea, her former co-worker, and the woman now married to Mark. First Mark showed up, and now Chelsea. What was going on?

“You stay away from Mark,” the younger woman snarled, practically in tears. “He’s mine. He’s married to me now. We have a baby!”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” Keeley responded, seriously annoyed now. “You drove out here to tell me that? If you remember correctly, he was my husband when you went after him, but you are now more than welcome to him.” She started to brush past, but Chelsea grabbed her arm and held on.

“I know he’s been here. He told me. He just wanted to make sure you were alright, but he doesn’t love you. He loves me!”

“Fine, he loves you. As you pointed out, Mark came here. I didn’t contact him. I don’t want him back. Now, go back to the city, and both of you stay far away from me.”

She tried again to walk away, but Chelsea still wouldn’t let go of her. Not wanting to create a scene in public, even though no one was around to see or hear them at the moment, Keeley told Chelsea they could talk inside, and the nearly hysterical young woman followed her into the house. Why am I suddenly attracting all these unbalanced people, Keeley wondered.

She walked into the kitchen, Chelsea at her heels, but stopped abruptly when she saw Dennis Olson sitting at her kitchen table. She turned around to run out, but the door was blocked by John Banks, holding a small but deadly looking gun.

“What are you doing in my house?” Keeley asked, fear clawing at her.

“Taking care of a problem,” he answered coldly. “Actually, several problems. You and that idiot over there.” He indicated Dennis, and Keeley could now see that Dennis was tied to the chair and his wrists were bound. Oh God, this was not good!

“Whoever the hell you are, you need to work on your timing. This is not going to be your lucky day” John said to Chelsea, who was standing in the middle of the room in frozen silence. “Give me your phones, both of you,” John demanded. “Hurry up. I don’t have all night. I’ve already had to waste more time on this than any of you are worth.”

Chelsea was staring at the gun in his hand. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on here, but this has nothing to do with me,” she said, her voice shaking. “I’ll just get out of here. I won’t tell anybody anything. As far as I’m concerned, I was never here.” She tried to push past John, but he grabbed her arm, and shoved her roughly into a chair.

“Sit down, and shut the hell up. You’re not going anywhere,” he said harshly. She immediately began to cry loudly. He grabbed her bag, found the phone, turned it off, and threw it on the counter. He pointed the gun at Keeley. She slowly took her phone out and handed it to him. “Sit down,” he ordered Keeley, and “shut up!” again to Chelsea. Her sobs changed to sniffles. She stared at him in abject terror.

Keeley sat down slowly. “Why are you doing this?” she asked.

“I’m sure you can figure it out. You’re not stupid. You’re annoying as hell, but you’re not stupid, unfortunately for all of us. Unlike that moron.” Again he indicated Dennis, disgust on his face.

“I wasn’t planning on your unexpected visitor, and I didn’t bring enough tape to tie up both of you, so we’ll have to improvise. Which one of you is likely to be the most trouble, I wonder. Probably her.” He indicated Chelsea, who was still crying, although thankfully, making less noise. He handed a small role of duct tape to Keeley and instructed her to tie Chelsea to the chair with it, and to make sure it was good and tight. Because Chelsea had been prepared to run out and leave her, Keeley was almost inclined to not be concerned about how she wrapped the tape around Chelsea, but her innate compassion forced her to do her best to make it as comfortable as was possible under the circumstances. She put the tape on Chelsea’s clothes rather than directly on her skin whenever possible. While she was doing this, her mind was racing, trying to put together a complete picture of what was happening.

“It was you, wasn’t it? You’re the older man Joyce was having the affair with, not Tom Freemont. It was you who those people saw going to her apartment. But why did you kill her? “

“She was pregnant, and expected me to leave Barbara and marry her. Can you imagine? As if I would ever marry a little tramp like that.” He was shaking his head in amazement.

“You could have just told her no,” Keeley said in disgust.

“I did tell her no, and she threatened me. Said if I didn’t give her ten thousand dollars, she’d tell Barbara and everyone else in town that I’d seduced her. I could have given her the money, but I knew she’d have come back for more. I wasn’t about to let that stupid bitch blackmail me.”

“You killed a young woman just because you didn’t want your wife and others to know you were having an affair? My God, that’s unbelievable!”

“Shut up! I don’t have to justify my actions to someone like you,” he said.

“What about Tom Freemont? Why did you kill him?”

“I didn’t kill him. Dennis did.”

“You made me.” Dennis spoke up for the first time. His face was a dull grey shade, and his eyes were fixed and glassy. He’s either drugged, or terrified, thought Keeley. Probably the latter. He clearly knows what this sociopath is capable of. Even though she shared his terror, she had no sympathy to spare for him. Unless John was lying, he was a killer too.

“It was either that, or I would have had to kill you at the time. I couldn’t have trusted you if you didn’t have just as much to lose as I did. I should have killed you anyway, and I would have if I’d known you would be stupid enough to steal Joyce’s jewelry, and then give it to your girlfriend. What kind of a moron would do that? But, I guess it's a good thing I let you live back then, because you’re going to prove useful in the unfortunate murder suicide that will be taking place here tonight.”

Chelsea started to cry louder again, and Keeley swallowed hard. Of course she’d known that he was planning to kill them, but hearing him say it out loud made it seem all the more real. “You’ll never get away with this,” she croaked, her mouth dry with fear.

John laughed, but the sound didn’t hold any humour. “Oh, I think I will. Dennis here is going to write a nice little note explaining how he killed Joyce and Freemont, and then you two, before deciding to take his own sorry life. Loose ends all tied up nice and neat, and case closed. Everyone will be relieved and happy. Well, everyone but you three, anyway. Where is a pen and a piece of paper? Dennis had a note to write.”

John started rummaging through the kitchen drawers, keeping the gun aimed at Keeley.

As dread continued to pool in her stomach and simultaneously cause her heart to speed up, Keeley remembered what Kira was always saying about the law of attraction, and how important it was to keep your vibration high. She hadn’t really paid that much attention previously, but now she was determined not to give into the fear clawing at her, and making it hard to think. Easier said than done, she soon found out, but she kept silently repeating the mantra of I am safe, I am getting out of here alive and unhurt. Over and over she repeated the words, and was shocked to find that they were kind of calming in a surreal sort of way. She knew it was up to her to do something. There was no one else.

A slight movement caused her to glance up. Max was on top of the cupboards, crouched down in prey hunting mode, his bright green eyes wide and focused on the scene below him. If only I hadn’t moved everything off the top of the cupboards, Keeley thought. If he had something to knock down, it might create a diversion and I could get away. But I’m not giving up. There has to be a way to get out of this. I just need to think of something!

Her eyes darted around the room, looking for inspiration. Suddenly from the corner of her eye she saw a blur of motion, and John began screaming and flailing around. Keeley looked at him in shocked surprise. Max was fastened to the top of his head, his sharp claws digging deeply into John’s scalp. “Get off, get off!” John yelled, over and over, but Max hung on tightly. For a few seconds Keeley was too stunned to move, then she ran over and grabbed the gun out of John’s hand, praying it wouldn’t accidentally go off. She picked up her phone, turned it on, and forced her shaking fingers to push 911.

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