Chapter 1: Breakaway
"Oh god!" Marie's keening voice wailed her desperate fear and frustration. She pounded the steering wheel in hopeless frustration and moaned, almost as a supplication to an angry god, "Oh god, oh god oh..." Helpless, hopeless she looked out of her windshield at the darkening Wyoming sky. It was late afternoon and Storm clouds formed in the norther skies.
Her aged Jeep Laredo was stuck in the mud. "Oh god," she whimpered again, in despair. Two wheels had gone off the road into the mud an hour after she left Laramie. Her right rear wheel spun in the slick mud and refused to gain traction. She sat, helpless in her despair.
Marie had used up the last reserves of desperate determination that had carried her this far they were all gone. Oh god, if Barry caught up with her now she would be dead. He promised her the next time she tried to run away from him she would die. Barry had threatened her and he would keep his word. Barry was crazy and Barry was a cop. He bragged to her how he had killed before. Many times, he said and he always got away with it. One look into Barry's glittering eyes and you knew he was a stone killer.
Marie had no one to rely on even a little after Daddy died. That day at the funeral Barry showed up, damn him, acting so sympathetic and helpful. He claimed he was a business associate of Daddy's. Then a week after he introduced himself at the funeral, showed up at her front door. "Remember me?" he asked her
His face, with the hard, insinuating expression pasted on it, scared her. "You said you were Daddy's friend," she answered, not certain what his visit was all about.
He slammed the door open and knocked her to the floor. "Don't ever doubt my word you dumb bitch," he raged at her. "Don't ever question me."
He bent down, grabbed her arm in a painful grip and jerked her to her feet. That day he moved into her home and took over her life. He beat her the first time just after he walked through the front door. He said it was to "get her attention."
The next day he emptied out her checking account and cut up her Visa card. Somehow he missed the five hundred dollars in a separate savings account. She kept quiet about the money and waited for the time she felt she could escape from him.
On that first attempt to escape the madman she did everything wrong, so very wrong and it almost got her killed. He chased her down and beat her in public while the horrified people around them averted their eyes and scurried away unwilling and afraid to become involved. He dragged her almost naked body home, her clothing half ripped off her.
The moment he pulled her into the house he threw her down on the floor in the living room. "Try this again, you stupid bitch and you die. I'll make you beg me to kill you." One look at the insane rage filled face and she believed him.
It frightened her much more that he had never touched her except to inflict mental or physical pain on her than if he had raped her. She knew she would not put up even a token resistance if he had taken her sexually. She was an attractive woman well aware of her good looks. She knew men found her attractive. Yet Barry had seen her dressed, as well as bare-naked and never once reacted to her. He was a killing machine who derived his pleasure from pain and death not sex, ever.
For six months she endured his treatment. She obeyed his every demand, yet never surrendered that part inside her where the hate resided. Finally her second chance came from a very unexpected direction, the FBI. One evening when the doorbell rang, he ordered her, "Answer that,"
When Marie opened the door, two grim faced men stood in front of her, one on each side of the door. Both wore blue jackets. "FBI," the one on the right said and held up his ID card. The other did the same.
As she stepped back, Barry swaggered across the room, "What do you two assholes want here? Feebs are not welcome in my house. Beat it." He started to close the door.
One agent stopped the door from closing with his shoulder. "Barry Schultz, we have a warrant for your arrest. Come peacefully or..."
Barry did not wait to find out what the "or" was. He kicked the agent in the crotch, grabbed the second agent and dropped him to the floor in a fast side sweep. "Fucking pussies," he muttered in contempt, as he disarmed the two downed men.
He thumbed the safety off one of the captured automatics and started to draw a bead on the first agent's head, intent on shooting the man with his own gun. Marie ran into the kitchen, grabbed a thin boning knife from the knife drawer and ran back as fast as she could. She swung the blade in a wild stab at his back. The blade was deflected by a rib.
However, it penetrated far enough to cause a long one inch deep gash along his side. "You bitch!" he yelled and turned to point the gun at her. Marie let go the knife and dropped to the floor in a curled ball. She drew her hands over her ears, closed her eyes and waited to die.
One of the downed agents seized the opportunity to draw a small caliber hold out revolver from his ankle holster. He shot once. Barry dropped the gun in his right hand and tried to raise the other automatic in his left. The other agent rose up from the floor. He grabbed Barry's left hand in a wristlock and gave him a grim smile as he twisted and jerked hard. Barry screamed loud his rage and pain as his wrist bones separated. The other agent kicked Barry's ankles out from under him. Both agents beat him in a workmanlike way into unconsciousness. They enjoyed every blow they struck.
The federal agents dragged Barry out the front door. Marie grabbed her shoes in one hand and her jacket in the other and ran out the back door. In their blind anxiousness to arrest Barry Schultz, neither agent tried to follow Marie and question her. If they had, they would have had airtight kidnapping and slavery charges as well.
To Marie they were two more men to get away from and nothing more. She ran out the back door and waited in the side yard until they left with their prisoner. As soon as the FBI agents drove away with their unconscious trophy, she went back inside the house, changed clothes and packed as fast as she could. She carried her two packed suitcases to the older than she old Jeep Laredo.
Marie whimpered her fear as she made one last trip into the house to remove a small metal box from its hiding place in the attic. Barry had not found the box that held her father's most important papers. In his arrogance he was positive Marie would never dare to hide anything from him after the initial beatings.
She turned out all the lights, was careful to lock the house up tight behind her and drove away. Her destination was a ranch somewhere near the small town of Walden, Colorado. After a week and a day of erratic driving and losing her way she ended up stuck in the mud on a paved road somewhere between Laramie, Wyoming and Walden, Colorado, a small town little more than a burp in the road.
When she heard a sharp rapping at the side window, she screamed and fell over in the seat and curled up in a fetal position. "Please! Don't kill me!" she sobbed.
The driver's side door opened. "Nobody going to kill you right here, ma'am, leastways not just yet. I was going to ask if you was alright, but that would be a silly question, seeing how you just reacted, wouldn't it?" He sniffed the air inside the car. "You been drinking or smoking something you hadn't ought to? Please step out of the car." He stepped back four paces and kept his hand on his sidearm, a businesslike Colt automatic.
She slid out of the car and stood quiet with her head down as she waited for the next order. "Let's see your driver's license."
She nodded toward the front seat. "It's in the car." Her haunted eyes and beaten attitude made him suspicious.
"Get it," he ordered, "And move slow."
"Here," she said and handed him the requested license. "The registration is on the sun visor." He waved her away.
The radio in the prowl car squawked. He backed away from her toward his car. "This is car two niner, dispatch. What do you have on the nineteen eighty-five Jeep Laredo I called in earlier?"
"All clear, no wants. New York registration matches vehicle description. Vehicle is registered in the name of Marie Elaine Ford," the dispatcher intoned in a bored voice. He listened to the droning recital while he kept a close watch on Marie.
"Thanks, Dispatch, out." He hung the mike on the dash.
"You check out okay, but there's something about you has my suspicion meter up and running. Who you on the run from?" He could almost smell her fear.
"From a policeman who wants to kill me," she blurted.
He stepped back as if slapped. In a neutral voice he asked, "And why does this police officer wish to kill you?" He watched her very close. You never could tell about the nuts on the roads these days. Hell, maybe she did have an old man who was a cop and whapped her ass now and then. Maybe she needed it. Who knows? That was not his concern. He waited to hear her bull answer.
She took a deep breath and blurted out, "Because he's crazy and he swore if I ever tried to get away from him again he would kill me, and he meant it." She began to sob again.
"Do you know his name?" he asked, not about ready to believe her. Hell, cops don't go around killing their girlfriends, leastways not the cops he knew.
"Police sergeant Barry Schultz of the New York City Police Department, assigned to a narcotics taskforce before the FBI arrested him." Her voice sounded as dead as her eyes looked right then. She was a portrait of misery. In misery she added, "If they let him out on bail he will come after me and kill me."
He looked at her, shook his head and eased his attitude. "Ah yeah, I read about him in the newspapers and again when they showed him on TV as he escaped custody. He did it right in front of the cameras." The highway patrolman paused, then added, " He had help from someone."
She began to tremble as panic overwhelmed her again. "Oh my god, I have to get away from here. Please. I'm stuck in the mud. I can't get out. I can't let him catch me. He and his friends are all crazy. Even the other cops are afraid of them. Can't you call a wrecker?"
Why don't you drive out?" he asked her. Didn't she know anything?
"I can't," she answered in a forlorn voice. "My wheels just spin when I try to drive back up onto the road."
He shook his head in wonder at how stupid some people were. Why did he get the dumb ones? And she wasn't even blond. "Is your four wheel drive broke?"
"I don't know." She answered helpless. "I never used it before.
He took a deep breath and asked, "Do you know how to engage the front wheels?"
"No," she said in a small voice.
"I'll do it for you. Please step aside." He turned the locking hubs on the front wheels, got in behind the steering wheel and put the little jeep in gear. He eased the Laredo forward ten feet and stopped. He got back out and held the door for her.
"Thank you," she told him fervently as she got in and closed the door. She rolled down the window. "Thank you again."
"I better warn you, there's a snow advisory out for tonight. We have been getting some real freaky weather up here between Woods Landing and across the state line as far east as Steam Boat. You better get to a hotel and wait out the storm we have coming in." He hesitated a moment then continued, "Do you have much further to travel this evening? I notice you don't have much experience driving in the mountains." He smiled to reassure her he was interested in her welfare. In reality he did not care what happened to her so long as it was far away from him, preferably in another state.
"I hope I'm almost there. My destination is called the Old Weber Ranch just past Walden a short distance.
"Well, don't you let me hold you up. You have a safe drive, ma'am." He smiled again and watched as she drove back onto the pavement and continued toward the town of Walden, Colorado.
Two days later, blinded by the snow, her gas tank almost empty, the old, powder blue Laredo drifted off the road and down a steep hill. The first bump jolted Marie awake. Dazed and confused, she grabbed the steering wheel tight in both hands and looked in horror at the empty whiteness that covered everything in front of her.
Then the car slammed to a stop against something. Marie was knocked unconscious. The wind outside the small Jeep howled and blew the loose snow around. Then it died down and all was quiet.