The Thousand Words

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Chapter 41

“What?” Bruno and I asked at the same time. Kelsey was working at the local children’s hospital on a double shift which covered the night. Nothing new or different. I had called her quickly after escaping while she was already at work just starting her shift. I warned her to be careful and to stay at family or friends. Both Bruno and I figured she was safe and out of harm’s way.

“You said everything had worked out, so I just assumed Kelsey was rescued as well,” Jane said. She had started shaking and crying. “I should have said something right away.”

Bruno stepped in to console her. “It’s not your fault but whatever they gave you to make you sleep. Screws with your brain and thought process.” He put his arm around her but looked up at me signaling we needed to get moving.

“Jane, everything is going to be fine. What’s important is you weren’t harmed through all of this.” I said as confidently as possible. Looking at the doctor, I continued, “Doc? I assume she needs to rest to allow what they gave her to work its way out of her system?”

“Rest is exactly what she needs right now,” she added, taking the hint. “It is time for both of you to leave. You can come back during normal visiting hours.”

Bruno and I both smiled one last time at Jane and then hustled out of her hospital room. I had my phone out immediately calling Kelsey. Just like my earlier attempt, the call went unanswered. I shook my head informing him of my failure to get a hold of her.

“How normal is her not answering? Not being able to get a hold of her while she is working.” Bruno asked wanting to get the facts. “We don’t know if what Jane is saying is the truth. They may have told her attempting to scare her and not because they actually had Kelsey.”

“It’s not uncommon at all. Her cell phone could be sitting in a locker or at a nurse’s station. Depends on what is happening at any given moment. If there is one or more child in crisis, it can be hours before she is able to talk. There have been times on a double shift she is practically running from patient to patient.”

I was telling this all to Bruno not believing a word of what was spoken. Nothing was actually a lie or incorrect information. The nature of her job at the children’s hospital made personal time while at work a luxury and something which couldn’t be counted on. Her patients came first. Pure and simple.

“Can we call over there to check?” Bruno asked, pulling me back from my inner thoughts.

I looked at my watch. It was just before two in the morning. Skeleton shift. The lack of personnel made it hard to get a hold of someone. Finding the right person to know where she was, would take a few minutes at a minimum and a couple of hours at worst. Not an option to only call.

“Not worth it,” I said back, talking quickly. “The hospital is not far away especially with the way you drive. Not to mention the siren will help a great deal. I can call on the way.”

I started a quick jog to the emergency room entrance where we had left the car. Bruno came up behind me and grabbed my arm stopping me in the hallway.

“There is a better option,” he said. “You stay here and call and let me know what you find out. You can also get checked out at the same time for the head trauma. All jokes aside, a concussion is nothing to take lightly.”

I pulled my arm away and started running towards the car with Bruno right beside me. “Not a chance. This is Kelsey. After what had happened, I never thought loving someone again was remotely possible. If this John Burns or Tony Kirchoff has her, we need all hands on deck. Don’t ask again.”

“Gotcha,” Bruno replied.

I glanced over at him when we both got into the car. He had a look on his face which was equal parts concern for Kelsey and a proud satisfaction on what I was doing. We had definitely developed a strong friendship since my dad and fiancée were killed. Until recently, I had believed blood relations meant everything. In reality, the best family members are not necessarily the ones you are related to but rather the ones you choose to be a part of your life.

Bruno drove like a man possessed over to the hospital where Kelsey worked. Being in the middle of the night, the traffic was virtually nonexistent. Motivation, a siren, and a trained police driver made for a slightly harrowing but quick trip. I had tried a few numbers to get a hold of the hospital but being the middle of the night made the effort a fruitless endeavor. All of the direct numbers Kelsey had given me were stored on my phone which was currently in possession of the Cincinnati Police Department. I couldn’t remember the numbers at all. Not even close. Who direct dials a number anymore? I don’t think I could tell you Kelsey’s number off the top of my head and we talk and text multiple times a day.

We made the trip in a hair over ten minutes, which must have been some sort of record. The same excursion would have taken at least twenty during a normal day. Bruno pulled into the emergency room area of the hospital and parked as close as possible, obviously not worried about the car being in the way as he did at the hospital when we visited Jane.

“Kelsey doesn’t work in the emergency room,” I called over to Bruno after we had both gotten out of the car and were running to the entrance.

“I know, but at this late hour it might be the only way in the building and to get some attention.”

We ran through the entrance doors and to the main station. Bruno flashed his badge at the first person who looked up at him.

“Bruno Gillen. Cincinnati Homicide Detective. We need to know the whereabouts of Kelsey Mannery immediately. She is a nurse here at the hospital and is supposed to be on-shift now.”

“She works up in the cancer ward. The fifth floor,” I added, attempting to be helpful.

The nurse picked up the phone and started making some calls, trying to locate where she was in the building. Bruno and I waited as patiently as possible, both pacing back in forth in front of the reception area. After an eternity of waiting, she hung up the phone and spoke to us.

“They said she left a few hours ago,” she said not understanding the significance of her statement.

My knees buckled at the news. Kelsey was gone and we had no idea where she went. My gut told me she was in danger. I had the audacity to believe this horrible situation was over when Jane was rescued. Instead, the crisis had gone from unbelievably appalling to my worst nightmare.

“Do you know where she went or why she left?” Bruno asked in his authoritative police voice.

“No,” the receptionist answered. “They just said she had left.”

“I need whoever you just talked to down here immediately as well as whoever is running security. Now. Someone’s life is in jeopardy.” The nurse picked the phone up and frantically started making calls.

I, on the other hand, needed to sit down, so I walked over to the closest chair and sat. My head was pounding from the concussion but paled in significance to my concern for Kelsey. I leaned over with the intent of putting my hands on my face and rubbing it when stressed. A sharp shooting pain from my left face reminded me of the still worsening bruise from being kicked.

“Hang in there, Alex,” Bruno said trying to comfort me. “We don’t know what happened. You try calling her again and I will get a uniformed officer to go to her place. It could be as simple as she went home sick and has her phone off.”

“Whatever,” I said, not believing a word. I tried calling her with the same negative result while Bruno walked over and made his calls. Bruno must have already had Kelsey’s address available because he didn’t ask me for it. He was always prepared, making sure he was ready for any possible situation or inevitability.

A nurse who I vaguely remember seeing once or twice before came out to greet us, followed closely by an older man dressed in a grey security outfit. The nurse spoke first.

“I was told you are looking for Kelsey and it’s an emergency. Is everything OK?” she asked.

“We hope so,” Bruno said, “but we need to find her immediately. You said she left for the day. Do you know where she went or why she left?”

“She left around eleven last night because of the detectives,” the nurse responded. “They said she needed to give a statement down at the precinct.”

“Detectives? Do you know what they looked like?” Bruno was asking still very concerned.

“Could it have been the twins?” I asked before the nurse could answer. “Would they take her to the precinct in the middle of the night for a statement without telling you?”

Bruno looked over at me shaking his head. “I doubt it very much after what happened but you are still technically a wanted man so they could be making a point.”

“I only saw one of them,” the nurse answered. “He was a bigger guy and in a suit. I wasn’t anywhere near where this happened so don’t hold me to anything.”

“Her description sounds like one of the twins,” I said, hoping for the best.

“Thanks,” he said to the nurse before turning his attention to the security guard. “I need to see the security cameras for where she worked as soon as possible.”

The guard answered back, “Would it be easier to see the exits if you want to identify who she left with? Those are much quicker to access.”

“Perfect. You catch on quickly. Former cop?”

“Yes,” he responded. “Thirty years up in Forrest Park. Doing this to help spoil the grandkids and for extra vacation funds. Follow me.”

The guard led the two of us back through a maze of hallways to the main security room which contained the recordings of all the cameras. He sat down and started finding what we needed to see. Bruno and I stood and watched over his shoulder.

“You said around eleven last night?” the guard asked.

“Yes,” both Bruno and I answered.

“There are a few exits they could have left at but let’s go through the main entrance. It is closed at night but it’s the closest to where she works and people leave through that specific exit all of the time.” He started clinking on a few links on one of the main screens.

“No,” Bruno said stopping the guard from what he was doing. “They had to get in the building somehow. If the main entrance is locked at night, they would park near where they could get in the building at such a late hour. Start with the emergency room entrance. They would leave by where they parked.”

“Good point,” the guard responded. “I’ll call it up first.”

He started clicking again and the video from the emergency room was displayed on the screen. It had four different views of the area. The video started moving backward quickly as he rewound the recording to around the time Kelsey would have left.

“There,” Bruno said sharply. “Play it from there.”

The video started to play in normal time. The timestamp in the lower left of the screen said it was exactly two minutes after eleven at night. A few seconds later, Kelsey came into view. She was walking on her own being escorted out by two people in suits. The detectives the nurse mentioned. The problem was one of them wasn’t large and the other skinny. They were both big.

I gasped and pointed to the screen. “Those are the two who kidnapped Jane. Now they have Kelsey.”

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