Anna gunned the Ford E350 Cargo Van impatiently, waiting for her husband and daughter to get in. She and her fourteen-year-old-daughter, Dakota had finished their morning run about an hour before. They had taken their showers and changed into their work clothes. Her husband had slept late and was still cleaning up the dishes from the breakfast he had prepared for them.
At the age of forty, many would consider her "over the hill." In truth, she was much younger than Faith Hill, Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon, Demi Moore and an onslaught of others. She was probably a cross between Blanka Vlasic because of her athletic ability, Angela Lindvall for her long red hair, and Jennifer Aniston for her innocence. Jennifer Aniston is not a raving beauty. You do not notice right away how attractive she is. Her beauty kind of sneaks up on you.
Anna was sitting in the van, with the motor running. Her long reddish brown, waist-length hair was done in a French braid and draped down her front on her right side. Like her daughter, she had cut-off coveralls that had been hemmed just below her crotch. They fit more like skinny jeans than farmer's coveralls. Her blue checkered long sleeved men's shirt had the sleeves rolled or folded up to a length just below her elbows. Her grey wool socks had been folded down over the top of her lumberjack boots that stopped just below her knees.
"I'm coming, Mom" Dakota said as she ran for the van carrying a sack of apples and one in her mouth. She pulled the passenger seat back and hopped into the back seat. She was dressed like a clone of her mother. Ken, her husband, came out a little slower. You could tell where he was because the lights in the house shut off, tracing his progress towards the front door. He shut the door, and walked around to the back, where he threw the plastic bag filled with yesterday's trash. He always seemed to be the last in the car.
Anna tried to be cheerful and hide her resentment for him always being a little late. They had to go up the mountain a little ways to feed their horses before going into Portland. Anna had a booth at the Saturday and Sunday Market where she sold recycled and redesigned dresses and coats. The coats and dresses she sold were purchased at the Thrift Store for a few dollars. She then added different pieces of cloth, rhinestones, and stitching to give them a tailored flair. Tourists paid hundreds of dollars for these one-of-a-kind works of art.
The back of the van had quite a few plastic bins with stacks of dresses, women's coats, high heel shoes, boots, and several mannequins for display. They were going to go into Portland for the weekend after they fed the horses. They were going to go to Vancouver for another load of clothes and a three-week vacation. School had just let out for the summer and Anna wanted to spend some time with her daughter. Her parents were going to take care of the horses, so they would not have to be there for a while.
Anna had graduated from the School of Design in New York and had been a regular on the staff for different movie companies. Whenever somebody in Hollywood was making a new movie, she would be on location for the few months of filming to tailor and create costumes for that period. In the times when she was at home, she used her sewing and design skills to make dresses, coats, scarves, jewelry and purses to sell at the weekend market.
Lately, her daughter, Dakota had been making jewelry out of table silverware. She would go with her mother to the flea market and get tableware sold more or less as junk or novelty. Anna's grandfather had taught her how to braze and solder. She could cut a fork in two on the handle; solder on a folding clasp, and bend they fork and tynes into a pleasing design. It was a great after-school-job she could do when she felt she had time.
The roads were still obscure with low-hanging fog as they drove down the residential roads of the unincorporated town of Welches to the highway. Anna had to stop for a ragged looking deer to cross the road. The deer up here were scrawny and dark. A grown doe looked more like a fawn in size.
Highway 56 was beautifully paved, with wide pull-over lanes on the sides. The traffic was slow because of the fog. People in Portland are polite drivers. You will not find anybody driving 75 on a road posted 55mph like in many other states.
They went up over a hill and turned off onto Lolo Pass. The winding road had a posted speed of 35mph and some of the turns were almost right angle turns. Anna had the bright lights on. Although the sun comes up before five in the summer, the high mountains filter the light so much it still seems like midnight; except you can look up and see the blue sky shining like it is noon.
Anna came around a corner and saw a deer in the road. It had been hit. She could have driven around it, but she knew somebody else might hit it again. If they didn't have their Brights on, they might be too close to avoid it. Some teenager might be speeding and go over the side and down the hill.
Anna slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. She and Ken got out to move the deer. They would at least drag it to the shoulder so the highway maintenance could come by and get it.
As Anna walked towards the deer, something didn't look right. She couldn't put her finger on it right away. Her subconscious mind was thinking. There were no skid marks. There were no long streaks where the deer might have been dragged by a car or semi once it is hit. There was no pool of blood of any kind. As she and Ken drug it off the road, she felt it might have been shot.
As she and Ken walked back to the van, a huge black man with a deer rifle and telescope appeared from behind a rock next to the van. "Get in the fucking van." She heard him say. If Anna was by herself, she would have made a run for it. She could have hurled herself down the side of the mountain. The dense foliage would have given her cover, and few men would have been able to keep up with her once she started to run. At the age of forty, she was older, but she still had enough speed from her days in college and track training to keep ahead of most people. With a head start, almost nobody could catch her.
But Anna was with her husband and daughter. Her daughter was still defenseless in the back seat of the pickup. She wouldn't stand a chance. Her husband was older. He was a pussy.
Anna had married him more out of convenience, than love. "She would learn to love him" she had told herself. They had known each other for some time and she had done it more out of convenience than love. As they walked to the van, the stranger motioned Ken to get in the back. He motioned Anna to get in and drive. The stranger got in the passenger seat.
Anna recognized him, but didn't want to let on that she did. Her background as a runner in college kept her interested in sports. She followed most of the news on the sports section of the paper. The 6'-6" 250 pound monster in the passenger seat next to her was Santana Battle. He had played for Seattle in the NFL for a few years and hurt his knee. He had made a huge amount of money while he played, but had virtually disappeared once he had been cut from the team.
There had been a "Where are they now" article written about him recently. He had put all of his money into gold mining funds, and when the recession hit, he had become a multi-millionaire. He was a real recluse, and nobody could get an interview with him. He just seemed to have vanished. Now, here he was; bigger and meaner looking than the sports articles had cast him.
His hair was shaved on the sides to the skin. The hair on the top of his head was a thick, kinky Mohawk, growing longer along the base of his neck, where it had been tied off into a braid. His face was shaven to have only a mustache and goatee. The bottom of his jaw, and neck were clean shaven.
His pants were a khaki camouflage that hung over his logger's boots. To a certain extent, he and Anna had a few similarities; the hair and boots. His shirt was a plaid sleeveless button front that was tucked into his pants.
"Get the fuck out of here." He said as he leaned lower and tried to see what was behind in the passenger side mirror.
"We'll t ... t ... take you wherever you want to go, mister. Just please don't hurt us." Anna said with a little stutter. She thought "Maybe he just wants the van."
"Just keep going."
They went over Lolo Pass. They took some side roads and turned off onto Barlow road. Santana pointed to a side road. It was a logging road. Since it was Saturday, there were no trucks on it. They went on for a couple miles. By now, the sun was a little higher and the fog had lifted somewhat.
"Stop here." He said as he pointed to a wide spot in the road. He pulled several rolls of duct tape from his backpack. "Get in the back with your husband and daughter." He said.
"Is he going to kill us, or tie us up and take the car?" Anna wondered as she climbed between the seats to get next to her husband. Santana threw her a roll of tape.
"Tape his hands together behind him; then do your daughter the same way." He said as he pointed the gun at her. Ken was now laying face down on the floor of the van. Anna taped his hands behind him.
"Now the kid." Santana sneered.
"I'm so sorry, honey." She whispered to her daughter. "If I don't do what he says, somebody might get hurt." Anna stuttered.
.... There is more of this story ...