My wife Ashley and I had arrived at the Connor family estate at four PM. It was Friday and the Connor family reunion was scheduled for the long Memorial Day weekend. The family retreat was so big the freaking bedrooms were numbered. I had married into the wealthy Connor family. Ashley Connor had been one of the most sought after female descendents of her grandparents, Timothy and Rose Connor, and I had won her hand!
Jeff Burton had been the first to arrive at the sprawling log cabin. Actually, it had been an inn fifty years prior. It featured a dozen bedrooms, fourteen bathrooms, two kitchens, a huge game room with all sorts of animal heads mounted on the walls, and five fireplaces. The care and upkeep kept a married couple that lived a mile down the road busy the year round.
Jeff had married Ashley's first cousin, Amber Connor. Amber was as dark as Ashley was blonde, equally beautiful, and nearly ten years younger than Ashley. She and Jeff had a 12 year old daughter, Amy, and a baby due in two months. Jeff was about five years younger than I, and two years younger than Ashley.
Bill and Agnes Winters arrived shortly after us. Agnes was another first cousin and Bill was her husband. It was the duty of the early arrivals to make certain all was ready for the influx of approximately 60 family members, friends, and guests that were expected to stream in all day Saturday. We really had very little to do since the caretakers had stocked the freezers, refrigerators, shelves, and whiskey cabinets in anticipation of the annual blowout.
Jeff had come alone. His wife, Amber, and daughter Amy, had spent several days visiting Ashley's mom in Nicholson, and would be driving with her to the retreat Saturday morning.
Almost from the time I walked through the door, Jeff had been thrusting a fresh beer into my hands. The first couple had been welcome, but I became suspicious by the third drink. I was notorious for falling into a very deep and prolonged sleep after I had more than four or five beers in a short period of time. Because of that fact, Jeff had become my best friend in the world. Over twenty years prior, he physically carried my unconscious form out of a burning house owned by a mutual friend.
I had about four beers over my limit at a party that night. I had crashed into an empty bed about midnight. Around three in the morning, Jeff, who was also staying over, awoke to the smell of smoke and alerted those sleeping in the house. He woke everyone except me, that is. As he told the story so many times afterward, he shook me, and then slapped me, but I would not even open an eye. As the smoke began to billow around us, Jeff wrapped my arms around his neck and dragged me out the front door. I never woke up until he dropped my boxer clad ass in the snow in the yard. After that, we were almost inseparable.
We had a lot planned tomorrow and I guessed Jeff's plan. He was going to see that I had enough beer to be worthless anytime before noon, and then razz me forever. By noon, our wives' parents would have arrived and notice my lack of participation. I began dumping beer down the drain when I went to the bathroom. I insisted I had to go out to the car for some forgotten items a couple times and spilled the contents of my bottle in the drive. I was determined to be sober and alert for the weekend festivities, as well as surprise Jeff with my new found recuperative abilities.
By a little after eleven, I was having difficulty staying awake. I knew it was the long drive to the retreat that caused my fatigue, but Jeff made a few quips about me not holding my beer when I excused myself and headed for bed. Ashley, Jeff, Agnes, and Bill were still telling stories downstairs when I nodded off to sleep.
I awoke to the sounds of Bill and Agnes laughing quietly as they made their way to their bedroom, which was adjacent to ours. I knew Ashley would soon be climbing into bed with me. I dozed off again.
The next time I woke, I immediately sat up and looked around. Something felt wrong. I felt Ashley's side of the bed. She was not there, nor had she been. My stomach started churning as I climbed out of bed and wandered down the hallway. I listened at Jeff's bedroom door and heard only soft breathing. I quickly, but methodically, searched the remaining empty bedrooms, as well as every other room I considered feasible. Coming up empty, I decided to check the occupied bedrooms.
I tried Jeff's door and it was locked. I went quickly back to my room and dug my pocket knife out of my jeans. I returned to Jeff's door and used the little screw driver blade to unlock the bedroom door. I quietly slid the door open and peeked inside.
I forced my stomach to relax. The moonlight was bright enough to illuminate Ashley lying on her side. She was naked. Jeff was spooned tight to her with her left tit in his hand and his flaccid cock at the entrance of her sex. Cum glistened on her thighs. I quickly closed the door and headed for the bathroom.
I never made it. Vomit spewed from me like a scene from "The Exorcist". I pretty much plastered the wall and a throw rug on the floor. Thinking I needed to quickly clean up the mess, I suddenly gave a grim chuckle. Puke on the floor was the least of my worries. I padded downstairs to the den. I removed a brick in the fireplace and pulled a key out. It easily opened the fireproof gun safe. I mulled over my options. Looking in a small container at the bottom of the safe, I saw some 12 gauge shotgun shells. My decision had been made for me.
I climbed the stairs as I loaded the Remington goose gun and considered the situation. I would blast Jeff's head completely off. I felt that was a no-brainer. Again, I managed a mirthless chuckle at my mental pun. Would the trauma of her sleeping lover's brains smeared all over the bedspread and headboard be worse for Ashley than actually being shot herself? If I allowed Ashley to live, would she suffer her entire life the way I wanted her to? Or would she have her pipes cleaned by some other bastard before I even went to trial?
Shit! I would be arrested and sent away for life. What would my two kids, Arlene and Jeffrey, think of me if I shot their mom? How about when I became a convict, sleeping with some big fucker named Bubba? That would not be something to cause my children to remember me fondly!
As I reached the top of the stairs, I realized I couldn't shoot Ashley. I would sooner give my life to save hers, than harm her in any way. Isn't that the way you should feel about someone you love? Could I kill Jeff? I had no doubt that he deserved it, but did his wife and family deserve the pain his death would create? Amber was a wonderful woman and I had always had a special place in my heart for her. She would surely hate me if I killed her husband, regardless how good my reasons.
I entered the room and held the barrel of the shotgun a few feet from Jeff's head. He was sleeping contently with Ashley's tit still in his hand and a smile on his lips. My hand shook as I pushed the gun's safety off. Beads of sweat formed on my brow. My breathing became ragged. I stepped back and lowered the gun. Jeff had saved my life years ago. If he had left me to die in that bed, I would never have met Ashley. I would never have had my two wonderful children.
Maybe the problem was me. I wasn't satisfying Ashley. Jeff apparently held me in contempt. Maybe everyone did. Why go on this way? I took the shotgun by the barrel and placed it in my mouth.
I smiled around the barrel as I envisioned the scene that would greet Ashley and Jeff in a few seconds. They'd regret their infidelities when they were shocked awake by a shotgun blast and flying brain parts! Then reality hit me. I was surprised how far away the trigger was. I couldn't reach it! Shit! I was pathetic.
I turned and left the room. I didn't bother closing the door. I just placed the gun against the wall I hadn't puked against, stepped around the mess on the floor and returned to my room. Three minutes later I was dressed and backing my car down the driveway. I had to get away before I did something really stupid. I drove until dawn and then pulled over on an old log road. I slept fitfully for a couple hours, awoke feeling like shit and resumed my journey.
I was headed home. I needed to pack my personal shit and get out before Ashley managed to stop me, if she even cared. Out of habit, I pulled into a convenience store/gas station I always used when driving that road. I parked on the side and when in and bought a 16 ounce can of beer. After thinking about it, I went back and bought a second can.
As I paid the clerk, I saw Jeff's white Navigator pull up to the gas pumps. His wife, Amber was behind the wheel and my mother-in-law was in the front passenger seat. Amber's daughter, Amy, jumped out the back door and headed around a white van on her way to the front of the store.
Suddenly a man slid the van door open, jumped out, and tossed some sort of blanket over Amy, covering her almost to her ankles. A big, burly guy followed the first guy from the van and quickly began wrapping duct tape tightly around the lower edge of the blanket. Amber had stepped out to pump gas and apparently heard something amiss. She rushed around the back of the van to find the bigger fellow tossing Amy into the van as the smaller fellow climbed behind the wheel.
My respect for Amber jumped tenfold as I saw her fly at the big guy. She was around seven months pregnant, half the size of the guy, yet more than willing to do whatever she could to protect her child. By this time I had covered the distance from the cash register to the door. I was moving at full speed by the time I reached the fellow that Amber had attacked. He held her by the throat as he pressed her against a wall. I couldn't see his other hand clearly, but it appeared he had pulled it back and was about to strike her!
He heard me coming and turned to meet me head on. The guy was at least fifty pounds heavier than I am. It was no time for Queensberry Rules. I brought the plastic bag with the two cans of beer around as hard as I could swing it. He managed to strike me hard in the chest just before the cans caved in the side of his head. I was surprised at how much the blow to my chest hurt, but was way too worried to give it any thought.
Then the van took off! The sliding door slammed closed as the van bounced over a curb and headed for the access ramp to route 81. Amber had slumped to the ground clutching her throat. Ashley's mom had exited the Navigator. With the van gone, she was able to take in the scene and quickly hurried to Amber's side. The big guy was motionless on the ground and a small crowd began to form.
I yelled at a young woman to call 911 as she approached. As she dialed, I directed a middle aged man to use the duct tape lying on the ground to secure the injured thug. If he came around, he would be mad as hell.
I saw the Navigator's keys were still in the ignition, so I ran to it and jumped in. I started it, jammed it in gear, and pushed the pedal to the floor. I didn't bother going around to the access ramp. I aimed for the hill between me and route 81. The big Navigator crashed through a woven wire fence placed there to keep drivers from doing just what I was doing.
I pulled the wheel hard to the right as I hit the pavement of the interstate in front of a tractor trailer. The tires screamed as I slid across the highway into the fast lane, just allowing the big rig to pass me on the right. He didn't stay in front of me long as I held the pedal down. I heard parts of the wire fence dragging along the side of the SUV, but paid no attention. Jeff could get a new car any day of the week.
I was topping 120 when I spotted the van as I flew over a small slope in the road. Not surprisingly, the driver had decided to leave the interstate as soon as possible. He was turning off the bottom of the ramp and headed south. I slammed the brakes and cut the wheel, just making the exit ramp as the van disappeared from sight. I managed to stop at the bottom of the ramp and make the left turn. I now had the van in sight, so I followed at a distance.
As long as he was driving, he could not harm Amy, I reasoned. I pulled out my cell phone, turned it on and dialed 911. I explained the situation as best I could. I told the dispatcher the name of the highway I was on and the direction I was moving. He cautioned me against making any contact with the suspect and urged to just follow the vehicle. I kept the guy on the line as I followed the van into rural farm country. Suddenly the van made a left turn, drove a short ways up a dirt road and pulled into an old barn. I continued on the road I was on for a short way. Then I parked out of sight from the barn and walked back to where I could see the barn.
As I watched the thug pull the doors closed, I noticed sweat was running into my eyes and I was feeling weak. I explained the location to the dispatcher. He told me the state police were about 40 minutes away and to stay still and wait. I knew 40 minutes was far too long to leave Amy in the creep's grasp. How could I help her sooner?
I hung up the cell and dialed 911 again. I spoke to a different dispatcher and reported a barn fire and gave the location. I insisted it was big and that the firemen had better hurry. Then I hung up again. One thing I had learned in rural America. Volunteer firemen took their job seriously and responded with amazing speed.
Three minutes later I saw the first pick-up race toward the barn. Another was right behind it. By the time I started the Lincoln and drove it to the barn, five volunteers were moving around, looking for the fire. I was surprised at how much trouble I had climbing from the SUV. My legs wouldn't support me and I fell to the ground in front of a couple of firemen.
"Holy shit!" remarked the closest fellow. "You've been stabbed! The goddamn knife is still in your chest!"
For some reason, I was relieved to hear that. My chest hurt like hell, and I thought I was having a heart attack!
"My niece was abducted by a bastard in a white van," I croaked. "He's in that barn. She's twelve years old and needs help right now!"
I stayed conscious long enough to see several of the guys turn and head for the barn. I heard a siren wailing nearby, and then silence.
I awoke several times for brief intervals. I heard voices and felt some pain, seemingly in my dreams. I opened my eyes and saw a smiling nurse looking down at me.
"Well, Mr. King, you've had some day! Relax and get well. I'll be right here to take care of you," she offered as I again lapsed into sleep.
It was morning and I was sitting up in bed. The doctor had explained that I had indeed been stabbed in the chest, but incredibly my heart and lungs were missed. I did lose a great deal of blood, and that had been the most serious issue. After receiving numerous units of plasma, I was doing much better.
Ashley and her cousin, Agnes, entered the room quietly. Agnes walked up to my side as Ashley held back.
"Tom King, you have had one hell of a couple days. I'm so glad you're going to be okay. All of us are, Tom" she continued. "You did a wonderful thing. You saved Amber and her unborn baby. That prick was preparing to cut her up when you jumped into the fray. The hospital kept her overnight since she is so pregnant and had such a traumatic day, but she's tough and is doing fine.
"Amy is fine, thanks to you. The dickwad that had her in the barn didn't fare so well when those volunteer fireman found out what he had planned. Most of those men have families of their own. Men who risk their lives for others have no tolerance for sick bastards that want to hurt kids. The guy will be okay, but he required surgery when they brought him in yesterday. The big fucker you smashed in the parking lot wasn't as lucky, Tom. He didn't make it."