Derek watched as Kelly and Byron shared one last kiss. He knew it was their last; he had seen the same thing back in the city.
It had been a couple. The husband had lost his mind when the wife had divorced him and decided to go to her apartment building and take her hostage.
Derek can’t say exactly what the guy thought the outcome would be. Maybe he thought if she knew he cared that much, she’d come back?
Whatever the objective had been, they both ended up on the ledge; crying and kissing before they jumped.
He couldn’t prevent it then and he didn’t think he had a chance here either; unless, maybe, he could appeal to Kelly.
Derek lifted the mic back to his lips and opened his mouth to speak but it was too late. He watched them jump; hand in hand. Everyone was frozen in shock.
Derek shook his head in an attempt to clear it and looked back at Kast. He was looking down and shaking his head in shame.
Derek knew what he was thinking. If they hadn’t have lured them here, this would have been avoided. It was his fault and he was probably about to lose his job now too.
He reached through the window and laid the mic in the driver’s seat of Kast’s car before heading back to his own.
Before he could get in, Kast slapped a heavy hand on his shoulder. “Well, that didn’t quite work out as planned, huh?”
Derek turned to meet Kast’s eyes. All he could do was shake his head “no”.
“There’s nothing to be done about it now. They both made their own choices and we did our best. You go on home. We’ll get things squared away here.”
Derek shook his head in agreement and sat in his driver’s seat. He took his time fastening his seatbelt as he stared at the bodies of the strange people he had just spoken to not even an hour ago.
Kast knocked on the window and Derek rolled it down. “Go out this other way.” He said as he pointed in the opposite direction of the way Derek came in. “There’s an old forestry road that will take you straight back to the highway. That way you don’t have to drive the devil’s spine again.”
Derek shook his head again and muttered his thanks.
“No problem.” replied Kast. “Just go straight through. You don’t want to be out here when it gets dark.”
Derek looked down at his watch.
“You have about another twenty minutes. That’s plenty of time to get back to the highway.”
Derek thanked him again and started his car.
“You’re welcome. Be safe. See you in the morning.” Kast said as he walked away from the car.
Derek watched Kast walked over and started giving directions to the stunned officers. Apparently, he hadn’t lost his job just yet.
As Derek made his way down the old dirt road, he met a black ambulance coming from the opposite direction. They each pulled toward the margins as much as possible. As the vehicle passed, Derek read “City Morgue” on the side of it. Kast had obviously expected death today; otherwise it would have taken at least thirty minutes after his call for them to get out here; possibly forty five minutes.
While he drove, he wondered what else Kast had anticipated and if he may just wait until morning to fire him. Great. Now he has all night to look forward to it.
Derek pulled out on to the highway and headed toward his house. About ten minutes later, it was pitch dark and he was grateful to Kast for telling him about the shorter route.
He was trying to shift his thoughts from the day’s events to the alcohol, hot shower and comfy bed that awaited him at home, when a figure suddenly ran out in front of him.
He hit his brakes as the cloaked figure crossed the road quickly in front of his car. He briefly considered getting out to see who they were and what they were doing out here in the dark. The weariness in his bones disagreed with that, so he just drove home.
Once inside, Derek headed straight for the bottle of whiskey in the refrigerator. He was walking back through the living room, removing the cap, when there was a knock on the front door. He stopped and looked at the door as if someone knocking on the door was the strangest sound he’d ever heard. They knocked again.
Derek sat the bottle on the table in the entry way and walked cautiously toward the door. He ran through the possibilities of who it could be. Kast? The cloaked figure from the road?
He readied his gun just in case and looked through the peep-hole as he called out “Who is it?”
A small female voice answered him in the same instant he recognized her. It couldn’t be her.
He cracked the door enough to show her his very unhappy expression. “What the hell do you want?” he asked angrily.
“I know we’re probably the last people you want to see but…” she trailed off when he interrupted her.
“No, no, no. The baby hasn’t done a thing. She’s an innocent in this mess. It’s you I don’t want to see.” Derek looked directly into Janet’s eyes so he wouldn’t miss the pain his words inflicted. It was a small victory that didn’t really give him satisfaction but it’s all he had.
“I’m truly sorry, Derek but we don’t have anywhere else to go. I didn’t know what else to do.” Janet replied quietly.
“That’s not my problem.” he stated coldly.
Janet looked around as if she were afraid something was behind her before continuing. “I know, it’s just…”
Derek let out an exaggerated sigh and rolled his eyes. She was crying now. She knows it eats at him when a woman cries. Not wanting to give in because of a few tears, he took a minute to stare her down. He was wondering what trick she would use next when he finally noticed that she was in a nightgown and robe.
He looked down to see that the baby was asleep in her car seat and that Janet was holding her between herself and his door. When he saw her look around again, he opened the door and looked around too. He suddenly got a strange feeling that they were being watched.
“Get inside.” he demanded.
As Janet made her way in with the baby and diaper bag, Derek took another look around. There was no way he would be able to see if someone were at the edge of the woods; it was too dark.
He closed and locked the door then turned to look at her while he secured his gun. “What are you doing here, Janet?”
“Thank you.” She said. “I’m sorry to bother you but it couldn’t be avoided. What I mean is I couldn’t think of a safe…”
Derek held up his hand to signal that she should stop talking. “You know your way around. You can take your pick of the guest room or the couch but you stay away from my bedroom.”
She shook her head in agreement and looked down again.
He grabbed his bottle of whiskey and walked briskly into the bathroom. He closed the door behind him and felt himself sink to the floor.
Janet was here and she had brought the baby that wasn’t his; the baby that belonged to Janet’s new husband.
At that thought he stood and slammed his fist down on the counter. She is married to someone else. Why the hell is she here?!
He opened the bottle and started to take a drink, then thought better of it. He definitely shouldn’t drink tonight. He should also take a quick shower instead of the long bath he had intended.
When he finished, he took the whiskey back to the fridge and turned to go to his bedroom. Everything was as silent as it always was but should it be? Shouldn’t there be some kind of noise; like a baby crying or something?
He made his way to the front window and peeked through the blinds. Nothing seemed out of place except for Janet’s car.
He turned toward the living room and found it empty; she must have opted for the guest room. Probably to be as far as possible from him, he thought.
She had made it clear earlier that she wouldn’t have come here if she could have avoided it. He rolled his eyes at himself. It was stupid to let that bother him.
He was making his way to his bedroom when the rest of her statement sank in. “What I mean is I couldn’t think of a safe…” He had interrupted her there. “Safe?”
As he let that word replay in his mind, he tried to recall other details. She showed up at night with her baby, both clearly dressed for bed. She looked tired and worried. She had been checking behind her and holding the baby just over the threshold. She had been looking down, speaking quietly and allowing him to interrupt her; which wasn’t like her at all. Should he just write that off as shame? Maybe under different circumstances, but not tonight, he decided.
He turned and headed down the hall to the guest room to find the door closed. He pressed his ear to it and heard nothing. He tapped on the door then opened it without waiting for a response.
Janet was sprawled out across the bed, the baby was still in her car seat which sat in the floor next to the bed and the light was still on. She had apparently just come in and crashed.
He closed the door gently and stood in the hall wondering what had happened to make her come here and behave this way. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good. She had always been a strong, independent woman; nice but never weak. Tonight she had been scared and crying. He couldn’t remember ever seeing her that way before. She had always smiled and laughed, up until the day she left.
He shook his head to clear the anger from that day and tried to think logically. Whatever had happened, she could explain when she woke. For now, she and the baby clearly needed a safe place to sleep and it had fallen upon him to ensure it.
He made a mental list of all the steps he should take next and began to check them off one by one. He checked all windows and doors to make sure they were secure. He pulled all the curtains closed so no one could see inside and turned on the outside lights so he could see the yard all around the house when he checked. Then, he loaded his back up gun and placed it back into the night-stand next to his bed.
The next step was to secure the baby.
Derek made his way down the hall and stood outside the door that used to open into his office. He stared at the door and took a deep breath before entering the room that he had so lovingly converted into a nursery a little over a year ago.
As he switched on the light, he thought back; had it really only been a year? It felt like a lifetime. He shook his head again and reminded himself to focus.
He didn’t know what Janet was running from or when it might catch up with her but he knew he couldn’t let the baby sleep through the night in her car seat.
He went over to the dresser, removed fresh bedding for the crib and began readying it for the baby that wasn’t his.
*Thank You for reading!*
End of Story 4-Part 4
Copyright©2019 Jennifer Treece