I shot outside looking for the source of the scream. No possibility of it being anyone else at this late hour. Also, with everything else that has happened it had to be Jane. I had, thankfully, never heard her scream before, so there was a slight hope it could have been someone else.
I instantly saw two larger men forcing Jane into an old dark blue sedan. They were big, a dominating combination of muscular and overweight. They were in shape enough to be quick and strong but with enough extra weight to be formidable. They were handling Jane like a rag doll even though she was trying to break free.
“Alex!” she screamed, obviously scared about what was happening. The man carrying her by the shoulders released one of his hands and clamped it over her mouth to keep her quiet.
I took off running towards the car in a vain attempt to rescue Jane. Their car was parked down the street, further down and the opposite direction from Jane’s car I had driven for the day. At a full sprint, my brain calculated I might make it in time. As I was about halfway to the sedan, the two beasts threw Jane into the trunk and slammed it closed. They ran to the two open front doors.
The man closest to me pulled a gun out of his waistband and pointed it directly at me. Even though it was night and the gun was jet black, there was no mistaking the action of the abductor and the shape of what he was now holding. Guns had been in my life for as long as I can remember and I had shot them from a very early age. This was the first time one had ever been pointed at me with the purpose of actually shooting me.
Fearing for my life and suddenly realizing there was nothing I could do at this point, I dove to the side crouching into a small of a target as possible. Both doors slammed shut and the car raced off quickly down the street. I stood up and took a few steps to impossibly chase down the sedan on foot. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what Jane was going out to her car to retrieve. A small bag which contained a change of clothes. What was much more important to the situation at hand were the keys to her car, right next to the bag. Whether she dropped them on purpose or by accident, they presented the perfect opportunity for me to pursue.
I snatched them up with one hand and got into her car, starting it up and throwing it in gear. The sedan I was chasing was far up the street, making a left out of the main neighborhood. Jane’s car lurched ahead rapidly, and I pounded the accelerator down but Jane’s kidnappers had a large head start.
I used my phone to call Bruno, put it on hands-free, and threw it in a cupholder in the front console.
“Alex. I was just about to call you,” Bruno answered somewhat angrily. “What the hell is going on? I am at a crime scene and we need to seriously discuss something immediately.”
“Jane’s been kidnapped!” I shrieked loudly back at him. “She was taken in front of my office by two large men with guns. They forced her in the trunk and took off. I am trying to catch up with them now.”
“Do you have a description of the car or a license plate?” He asked hurriedly.
“An older dark blue sedan. No idea on the make or model. Something from the early eighties. I didn’t catch the license plate number.”
“Listen to me. Hang up and call 911 immediately. Tell them what is going on.”
The sedan with Jane in the trunk was maybe a quarter mile up ahead of me but I was gaining. They were moving quickly, but maybe hadn’t realized they were being followed. When fleeing from a crime, the perpetrators had to worry about speed. The faster you went, the quicker you got away from the scene, but the more attention that you brought on yourselves. A classic risk versus reward situation. Right now the person driving the sedan had chosen a fast but not reckless speed. Fast enough to get away briskly, but minimizing the chance of being noticed.
Their car was getting closer by the minute. It would not be much longer before I caught up. I knew I needed to call 911, but I was hesitant to take my hands off of the wheel when driving close to one hundred miles per hour. What my next move was once I caught up to them was a complete mystery to me.
The kidnapper in the passenger seat looked sharply behind, directly at me approaching. The sedan then sped up quickly. They must have noticed I was behind them and decided maximum speed was now the best option for escape. I sped through a curve that caused the back end of the car to become loose and started to fishtail, sending me into the oncoming lane of the street. Fortunately, at this late of an hour, there were very few other cars on the road. I had to slow at risk of crashing.
They were about one hundred yards in front of me. Close enough to keep track of them but far enough away, so I had time to know which way they were turning. With Jane in the trunk, I was praying they wouldn’t crash, but losing sight of them would mean her likely demise. I shuddered at the thought. After turning a sharp corner running through a stop sign, I was able to safely call 911 on the speakerphone.
“911. What is the nature of your emergency?” The operator’s voice was cold, almost to the point of sounding mechanical.
“My friend has been kidnapped and forced into the trunk of a car. I need the police to save her.” I was speaking very rapidly, trying to get out as much information as possible. “It’s a dark blue sedan. Maybe black. It just made a left going west on Madison Road. I am following it.”
“Sir, is your friend hurt in any way?” The emergency operator was alert now.
“I don’t think so. They threw her in the trunk so the police will have to be careful about stopping the car. No crashing it and definitely don’t shoot back at them.”
“Do they have guns?” the operator asked.
The sedan up ahead made a sharp left onto Red Bank Road heading south. I slowed down to make the turn but still managed to sideswipe a parked car near the intersection. Jane’s car was still completely drivable, so the damage must purely be cosmetic and nothing critical or structural. I swore out loud as I hit the gas trying to catch back up to the sedan which had just made an immediate right on to a residential street.
“Sir? Are you still there?” The operator was asking.
I was not able to answer immediately because I was fully concentrating on driving. As I turned the corner, I almost plowed head on to a parked car on the far side of the street after taking the corner way too wide. Breaking hard, I swerved back into the center of the road and then took off again.
The sedan was gone, nowhere to be seen. It must have turned off as it was not in front of me anywhere on the straight road. Left or right? Fifty-fifty chance. I slowed in the intersection, quickly looking both ways. On my left, brake lights flashed ahead making a quick right onto a different street a few blocks ahead. They were zig-zagging trying to lose me on the residential streets. Better drivers with experience. It was working.
“Sir!” the operator shouted. “Are the people who took your friend armed?”
“Yes,” I said back. “At least one of them.”
“Please stay on the line. I am contacting the police.”
I sped up ahead, not slowing down for the stop signs I was blowing through. Losing sight of Jane was simply not an option and, at this time of night, the probability of cross traffic was very low. I kept making seemingly random lefts and rights barely keeping sight of the sedan which was getting farther and farther ahead.
I could see the strobing lights from a police car behind me make the same turn I had just barely made. They turned their siren on pulling in right behind me. Opening the driver’s side window, I waved them forward pointing to where the sedan with Jane in the trunk was going. The police car stayed right behind me. They were trying to pull me over.
Screaming into the phone at the operator, “Tell the cops they are behind the person calling for help and not the car with my kidnapped friend!”
“Sir, please pull over and leave the pursuit to the police officers. It’s not safe for you or the public to be chasing a car.”
“I understand but they are chasing me. I’m not the right car!”
“Please pull over and leave it to the police department.”
After another quick turn where I clipped the front corner of another parked car, I reached over and hung up the phone. I quickly made another call.
“Alex, what’s going on?” Bruno answered on the first ring.
“I am still barely following the people who took Jane. The police are here but they are following me and not speeding ahead to get the car that took Jane. What should I do?”
Bruno was quiet for a second. “Don’t leave sight of Jane whatever happens. I’ll call you back.” He hung up.
I was flying down the various roads ignoring all of the traffic signs. The sedan made another sharp left a few hundred yards up ahead. Glancing behind me there were now two police cruisers behind me, neither trying to get ahead to the sedan.
When I got to the intersection, I tapped the brakes and made the left-hand turn apparently way too fast for my driving skills and familiarity with Jane’s vehicle. The car’s rear end slipped out to my right against the turn and slammed into the curb. This caused the car to jump in the air and it spun out. After an endless skidding stop, the car came to a rest facing the two police cars that were now parked facing ahead.
I jumped out of the car and pointed in the direction of the sedan screaming, “The car is going that way! Go after them. They are getting away.”
All four officers in the two sedans jumped out of the car and pointed their guns at me. The second time a gun had been pointed at me in a few minutes.
The closest cop to me screamed, “Get on the ground. Now!”
“You don’t understand. The car you really want is getting away.” I continued to point in the direction where the sedan was last seen.
“I said get on the ground. Last chance!”
It was obvious, no matter what I said, nothing was going to change the officers arresting me. Their only objective was to eliminate me as a threat. I quickly turned around, dropped to my knees and put my hands behind my head, indicating complete submission. One of the officers came up behind me and cuffed my hands together behind my back. Yet another first for my life. He helped me stand and walked me over to a curb, where he sat me back down.
As soon as I was down, I started talking again very agitatedly. I knew it was too late for Jane but I had no other options left. I quickly told them the details about Jane being kidnapped, thrown in a trunk of a sedan, and how I was attempting to follow them when they pulled in behind me. I was obvious from my point of view that the officers did not believe a word I said. To them, I was just some lunatic spouting off of implausible story just trying to get out of being arrested. They took my wallet with my driver’s license out of my back pocket, confirming my identity.
The officer who put my cuffs on said, “Wait here.” He headed back to one of the cruisers with two of the other officers who were standing guard. The third one stayed behind me completely silent. The look on his face indicated I should sit still and keep my mouth shut.
My phone in the car started ringing. Bruno must be calling back. I looked at the officer with the intent of asking if I could answer. He was already shaking his head from side to side letting me know it was not an option.
After what seemed like an eternity and additional unanswered calls from Bruno, the three officers walked back to me.
The same officer who cuffed me spoke. “Mr. Layne. You have an arrest warrant out for you as a person of interest in multiple murders. I have been instructed to bring you in for questioning.”
The officer read me my rights but I didn’t hear a word he said. I had failed Jane pure and simple. And she was most likely dead because of it.