Callie was, hot, tired, and hungry. She hadn’t had anything to eat in over twenty hours and nothing
to drink longer than that. She was growing lethargic. She was trying desperately to stay focused and alert. It wasn’t
She prayed for strength.
They were preparing to move again within the hour. She really didn’t want to go anywhere else. She
just wanted to lay her head down and rest. She hadn’t closed her eyes since she awakened to find Joe Hines standing
She didn’t trust the man. He was demented. He’d gone over the edge. She knew there was no way
of reasoning with him. His mind wasn’t capable of such minial tasks anymore.
He was focused on one thing and that was killing her. She could see it in his eyes, hear it in the way he
spoke, when he spoke. They hadn’t been talking much lately. They’d just been sitting in the quiet, dark room listening
to each other breathe.
Callie was tired of the quiet, and the dark, and the stench that followed Joe where ever he went.
"Why do you want to kill me?" Callie asked at last. If she were going to die, she wanted to know why.
Joe smiled at her with a hint of animosity lingering at the corners of his mouth. "Oh, I don’t want
to kill just you, baby doll," Joe proclaimed with a sickening sweetness that turned Callie’s stomach. "I want you and
your lover boy. I want to watch the two of you die together."
"What did Rus ever do to you?" Callie pressed. "He’s a good cop. He was only doing his job."
Joe was angered now. He swept up a handful of Callie’s hair and forced her to look straight into his
deadly eyes. They gleamed with a violent turmoil. "Let me tell you something, lady. He was too good at what he did. That’s
the problem. He was getting to close to the truth."
"And what was the truth, Joe? That you were a dirty cop?" Callie didn’t think it was a good idea to
be sparring with the enemy. But she couldn’t resist the impulse. She had to defend Rus any way she could. She loved
him and she would not allow his name to be tainted because of this man. Joe Hines was nothing but a monster. A sick one at
"Yea," Joe stated bitterly. "That’s the only way a cop can make it in the world. You know I came from
a family of cops. They all played by the books, did everything perfect. But not me. I had to be different."
"Why is that?" Callie asked.
"Because it’s a lot easier trying to screw up, than it is trying to be perfect all the time."
"Who ever said you had to be perfect?"
Joe was agitated. He began to pace the floor. Callie watched him closely, her eyes following his every move.
"It’s expected in my family," Joe affirmed dourly. "I tried hard to be a good cop, somebody my old
man would be proud of."
"What happened to change that?"
Joe became very still. Dangerously still and Callie felt a sense of unease. She remained still so that she
wouldn’t startle him into shooting her.
"Someone killed my dad while he was trying to save some woman and her kid. The guy got away. Later my mother
died because she couldn’t live without my old man. Life throws you a lot of curve balls, doesn’t it?"
Callie felt a tremendous amount of sorrow for Joe. She could see how he had become bitter, but that didn’t
make what he was doing right. He needed help to sort his problems out, to help him come to terms with his loss. It seemed
to her he’d never taken the time to grieve properly for his parents. It seemed as though maybe he felt a little guilt
over it, as if maybe he were some how responsible for their deaths.
Here she was facing her own death, and she was still trying to solve everyone’s problems. Even Joe
Hines’s. He was a despicable man. But she felt that she could reach him, make him see where he’d gone wrong. Maybe
then he could try to turn his life around.
"What did you expect to get out of the police force?" Callie questioned. She was analyzing him now, assessing
his movement, his expressions, and the answers to her questions.
"Maybe nothing," he responded. "I only got in because it was expected of me."
"Would it have been so bad to say, you know, this isn’t for me. I think I’ll do something else
Joe was enraged. Impulsively he lifted the back of his hand and smacked Callie across her left cheek. "I
don’t need you psychoanalyzing me," he snapped at her. "I like what I do. I have no regrets."
"Except getting caught," Callie’s face stung where she’d been slapped and it felt a little puffy.
"I haven’t gotten caught yet," Joe prompted. He seemed a bit smug about his reply. It made Callie sick.
"You will though. It’s only a matter of time before they catch up to you. Then what will you do?"
"What does it matter to you?"
"It doesn’t," Callie replied. But the truth was, it did matter.
Rus dropped the boys at Eddie’s house. Then drove over to the body shop where Eddie’s father
worked. He supposed it was much like any other body shop in the country. It was dirty and littered with every imaginable junk
you could find. It smelt of oil and gas and a mixture of cigarette smoke.
The minute Rus stepped out of his car, he was leery of stepping in puddles of oil that covered the asphalt
leading inside the shop.
Larry Montgomery was donned in his shop uniform. It was navy blue and had his name in white lettering across
the shirt pocket. He was covered with dirt and grime. He looked as if he’d been having a bad day. There were no customers
around or any employees.
The engine of the car Larry was working on was running quietly and he hadn’t heard him come in.
"Larry," Rus said carefully.
Larry looked up with little interest, then returned back to the job at hand. He appeared to be sanding out
some rough dents in the car, preparing it for a new paint job. It annoyed Rus.
"I’m here to talk about your son, Mr. Montgomery."
Larry stopped what he was doing for an instant. And for a split second Rus thought he saw fear in the man’s
"What about that kid?" Larry barked. The sound of the sander was high-pitched and hard to hear over. It was
impossible to hold a conversation over the distraction.
Rus went over to the plug in the wall and yanked it from its receptacle. Suddenly the shop was filled with
silence. Larry peered at Rus with a chilling anger.
"Excuse me, but I have work to do here, if you don’t mind."
"Yes, I do, as a matter of fact." Rus opened the car door and shut off the engine. "We need to talk about
Peeved, Larry stated, "There ain’t nothing wrong with my kid."
Rus shrugged, perturbed at Larry’s lack of concern. "I happen to disagree. I just dropped him and my
son off at your house. I believe the bruises will heal pretty good. But the emotional scars may be with him awhile."
Larry slammed down the piece of machinery he had been working with. It made a loud thump as it hit the cement.
Abruptly he whirled around and faced Rus with a perilous smirk on his face.
"My son aint none of your business, so why don’t you get back in your car and leave."
"I’m making it my business," Rus conceded. "You see, where I come from a man doesn’t hit a child."
Larry took out a cigarette and started to light it. Rus jerked it out of his hands, tossed it on the ground
and stomped on it with his foot.
"Why’d you do that for?"
"Because I felt like it. You may intimidate your son, but you can’t intimidate me. Got that?"
The two of them stared off at one another. It was clear that Rus was getting under Larry’s skin. He
was losing his patience. That’s what Rus had intended to do. He wanted an edge over Larry Montgomery.
"Now, we have one of two choices to make here," Rus was saying now, by way of an order. "You won’t
lay a hand on your son again, and I won’t report you to the authorities. Or you touch your son again, and you will be
lucky if I don’t kill you myself."
Rus’s face held no hint of any humor. Larry’s eyes beamed with bitterness. "Who do you think
you are? What gives you the right to come in here and throwing your weight around?"
Rus pulled out his wallet flashing his police badge in Larry’s face. "I may not be allowed to fight
crime in this town," Rus admitted, "But I’m sure I can make some heads turn. Now that I have your full attention, I
will be taking Eddie to Florida with me for a few weeks to spend some time with my son. I will pay the expenses so you don’t
have to worry about that."
Larry stood there dumbfounded. He couldn’t think of thing to say.
"Secondly, you need to stop that drinking and find something better to do with your time and money."
There was a pause in Rus’s dialog. Then he said, "And lastly, there is a family counseling center in
Albertsville. I have arranged for you to start taking anger management classes. They are held on every Thursday of the week.
There will be a total of six classes."
Larry was grinning. A snicker came out of his mouth. "You’re crazy if you think I’m going to
take those stupid classes."
Rus wasn’t crazy. But he was deadly serious. He coiled his fingers around the collar of Larry’s
shirt until it formed a knot. He pulled him close to his body. "If you miss even one class, I will go to the police department
myself and file a formal report for battery of a child. Do I make myself clear?"
Larry huffed a bit and pushed himself away from Rus.
"This is nuts. I don’t have to do any of this," Larry proclaimed. "Why should I have to listen to you?"
"It would be a smart thing to do unless you want to go spend time in jail. I can leave here right now and
take your son to the authorities. I’ve got all the proof I need to put you away for a while."
Larry laughed. It was cynical and disgusting. It made Rus cringe.
"I don’t see that this is any kind of a laughing matter," Rus indicated. "Now what will it be? Do you
cooperate, or do I go to the authorities."
Larry was mortified. He took out another cigarette to light it, then tossed it on the ground in agitation.
"Oh all right, I’ll take the stupid classes. But I’m telling you right now, they ain’t
gonna do no good."
"They will if you know what’s good for you."
Rus turned and headed toward the front of the shop. At the edge he stopped, looked back at Larry and said,
"You have a good kid. You need to take the time to notice." Then he spun back around and disappeared into the bright sunlight.
Larry swore and said a few things under his breath that were not too pleasant. He turned on his sander and
went back to work with a savage brutality. He was mad, but not at Rus Lane. He was mad at himself more than anything.
Rus Lane had opened his eyes, even if Larry didn’t want to admit to it.
The last few months had been full of failures and disappointments for Larry. His business had slacked off
and he was finding it harder and harder to pay the bills around there. His anger had been building for a while until it had
gotten out of control.
Then he’d started drinking. He had never really drank before and, if he had, it had never been a problem.
But last night was an exception. He hadn’t meant to hit his son. He had just lashed out at him and then he couldn’t
find the willpower to stop.
Eddie was a good kid. And Rus was right. He’d never taken the time to notice.
God he needed help in the worst way.
It was midnight. The air had cooled down giving Callie a reprieve from the scorching heat. She felt the ropes
around her ankles cutting into her flesh. She was filled with a raw pain that slowed her progress down.
She and Joe were moving to a new hiding place. This time it was on the edge of town near a collection of
tall buildings and shopping malls.
For this time of night the streets were still and empty. There were only a few street lamps scattered far
apart. This gave Joe a peace of mind. The darkness obstructed their view and made moving a lot easier. If only it weren’t
She was getting weaker by the hour. Joe was practically dragging her along with him where ever they went.
He knew the time was getting near. The time to call Rus. But he would wait just another day. Maybe two or three.
He hadn’t decided on that yet. By now Rus was probably waiting by the phone for his call. By the time
he got to New Mexico, Callie would be dead. But Rus wouldn’t know that until it was too late. Then he’d be fighting
for his own life.
Joe was very pleased with himself. Everything was working out just fine. He couldn’t ask for anything
more. Except maybe for it to go a little faster.