Janefer had been driving for an hour when she pulled off at a Walmart to use a payphone.
“I should’ve remembered to take a cellphone with me.” She grumbled,” I don’t even know if they have a payphone in Walmart.” All of her enthusiasm of the previous hour had slowly dissipated as she found no white pick-up and no Melanie.
She walked inside the Walmart. It wan’t too busy, but busy enough to keep the staff on their toes. Janefer looked around for a payphone. There were two, out in front of the washrooms. She sighed in relief and strode over to them. A young man in a dark overcoat and glasses stood at one of the payphones, huddled over the receiver as he spoke softly, but harshly into the phone. The other payphone was being used as well, so Janefer waited in line behind the man. He sounded angry, exasperated, yet a tinge of fear seemed to border his voice as he spoke. Janefer moved a little closer. She knew eavesdropping was wrong, but what if this man could have done something wrong?
“I told you already, man. It was a mistake, okay? We thought you wouldn’t like it if the kid was…” The young man caught Janefer looking at him and turned away, and spoke even more softly than he had before, leaving Janefer no chance to hear his conversation. Seeing that the other payphone was free, Janefer moved over to it and dialed her mother’s number. Her mother answered quickly. “Hello?”
Janefer took a deep breath and braced herself. “Hey Mom, it’s me. Listen, before you say anything, I need to talk to you about something.”
She could hear Mrs. Davis on the other end, trying to calm herself. “What is it?”
“I called the hospital about an hour and a half ago, because I needed to talk to Mel about something. When I said that she was registered there, they told me that she wasn’t there anymore, and that she had been checked out 15 minutes before I called!” Janefer tried to keep her voice low, steady. “I needed to see for myself, and try to find out what happened to her.” Janefer’s voice cracked, but she kept on going. “I talked to a lady at the hospital whose name is Carmen Dell. She told me that a woman, with shoulder length reddish-brown hair, and she was like, five feet, four inches. She chattered a lot. She was the woman who asked for Mel to be checked out. Mom, I know I shouldn’t have gone out without telling you, but please don’t ground me. I need to help find Mel.”
Mrs. Davis was silent for what seemed like ages. Finally, she broke the silence. “Janefer, I’m just very thankful to God that you haven’t gotten hurt yet, or gotten kidnapped or something horrible. I honestly don’t know what to do with you. I know I should ground you, but maybe that can wait until this whole thing is over. Why don’t you come home, and we can go visit Terrence in jail. You know how we were going to? Maybe he can help us.”
Janefer breathed a sigh of relief and smiled. “Okay, I’ll do that. I’ll be home in ten.”
“All right, honey. See you then.” Mrs. Davis’s voice sounded tired.
“And Mom?” Janefer asked before hanging up. “I love you.”
Janefer could almost see her mother smiling. “I love you too, Janefer. Now you come home in one piece, okay?”
Janefer chuckled slightly. “I’ll try.”
She hung up and walked out of the store, eager to hear what Terrence would have to say.
Melanie awoke, or at least she thought she did. Maybe this was a dream. Her legs weren’t hurting as much now. Her captors, for that is what she called them, must have given her something to ease the pain. Some captors. The sun was shining through a slit in the curtains of the room she was in. It was easy to see now that she was in a hotel room, on a bed. “I wonder what hotel I’m in?” She mused as she looked around. Melanie spotted the telephone on a nightstand and reached over, despite fresh pain in her legs, and almost grabbed it when she heard a click. “Move away from the phone. Now.” Mel moved slowly back to her position on the bed. A woman stood over her, a pistol pointed at her. The woman brandished the gun for a few seconds before laying it on the other bed. She grunted as she pulled the cord of the telephone. “I should’ve known you would be trouble. Even with two broken legs you don’t have limits, do you?” As Mel studied her, she noticed that the woman who had checked her out was a brunette. This woman was a blonde.
Mel decided it was time to ask some questions. “Why-why did you bring me here? What have I done to offend you?”
The blonde scoffed, shaking her chin length hair. “Maybe I should be the one asking questions, huh? What do you know about the crash?”
Mel tried to clear her foggy mind. “What do you mean? Are you some sort of news reporter trying to get my story?”
The blonde started pacing around the room, waving around her gun. “I mean, what do you know about it? Why don’t you tell me your side of the story? Maybe I can help you to relieve some pain you might have. Why don’t you share with me, ease the pain?”
Her tone of voice set Mel more on edge. “I don’t have any pain, except in my legs. The crash happened, we can move on. Please, just let me go.”
The blonde lay a hand on one of Mel’s legs, sending bolts of pain coursing through her. “If you tell me, I can let you go. Just tell me.”
“No.” Mel gritted through her teeth. “I don’t remember much. I was knocked unconscious.”
The blonde appeared to be somewhat satisfied and took her hand off of Mel’s leg. She waltzed to the door, opened it. “Don’t even think about trying to use the telephone.” Mel heard the door click as the blonde locked it, leaving Mel behind. “Lord, I’m crying out to you. I need you. Please… please comfort me. Help the police to find me, Lord. Please..” She broke down in sobs, her tears coursing down her face, her anguish too great to bear alone. A Bible verse came to mind as that happened. It was from Deuteronomy 3:16. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” She took great comfort in that. “Thank you, Lord.” She whispered.
Janefer arrived home, her mother waiting in the driveway. As as she pulled in, her mother opened the passenger seat door and slid in. “Hey Janefer. You ready?”
Janefer let out a deep breath. “Yes. You bet. Are you ready?”
Celeste nodded. “Let’s go.”
Most of the drive to the jail was quiet. Both of them were absorbed in their own thoughts.
Once they reached the jail, they walked inside and asked to see Terrence. They were requested to wait for a few minutes while they retrieved him from his cell.The jail cell wasn’t a dirty place, but it wasn’t the cleanest either. Janefer looked inconspicuously around at the different people sitting at a desk, talking on a phone, with a sheet of plastic glass between them and the prisoner. One woman was yelling at a man through the receiver. Two police officers rushed to her side and quietly asked her to leave. She did so, glaring at Janefer as she passed. Wow. You’d think she would be glad to see her loved one, or whoever he is. A police officer walked up to them. “Hello ladies. Are you the Davis family, here to see Terrence Li?”
Celeste answered. “Yes, officer, we are. Where is he?”
The officer pointed in the direction they needed to go, and Janefer cringed at what he would say when he saw her. He may be mad at me. I sorta incriminated him. Oh, boy. I hope this goes well.
Celeste and Janefer confidently walked to the desk, and Janefer sat down, and, picking up the phone, said,”Hey Terrence. How are ya?” He looked up. His face looked ten times more tired than he had before, and he appeared to have lost some weight. His face hardened as he met her gaze. “You know, I’m doing just fine. The bad food, the sleeping bunks. It’s just pure luxury.” Janefer met his gaze head on. “Terrence, I’m sorry you have to be in this position. If it helps you any, I believe that you didn’t do it. I think you are innocent. Why don’t you tell me how they convicted you?”
Terrence sighed, and, lifting his weary head, relayed what had happened.