Otin sez: This is a long one, folks. It's another story meme. Here's how it goes:
And now for something completely different: a story in ten parts( hopefully ). Begun by Otin and continued by Subtorp,
1). At the end, tag only one person to write the next part. If the
tagged individual does not want to participate, they can pass it along to
2). The 10th person must end the story, so numbers 8 and
9 need to think about the end game also!
Take it wherever you like!
A few mornings ago, Jim woke up and went to check on his daughter, finding only an empty bed, it was not like Kylie to get up early during the summer months. He checked the house, checked the yard and found nothing. Now panicking, Jim went to the phone, ready to call the police, that is when he saw the note, it read:
We have your daughter, do not call anyone, or she will suffer! All that you need to do to get her back is to complete two tasks. The first task is that you must kill a person of your choice by midnight tonight. The next task will be given to you after you complete number one. Failure to comply will result in the death of your daughter, as will you making contact with anyone!
Jim turned white and almost passed out. What were his options? He did not have one, Kylie's life depended on him becoming a murderer. Who could he possibly kill? He would have to locate a sex offender, or a person with a terminal illness, someone that did not have a long and prosperous future. It was not justification, but just limiting his guilt. He only had 13 hours to do it, and could not even try to look for a suspected kidnapper. He got out his hunting rifle, went to his truck and started driving toward town, not really having a plan. While driving, he began to gather his senses, and narrowed it down to either going to the library and searching for a local sex offender on the computer databases, or slipping into the ICU of the local hospital and putting someone out of their misery. The second option was far riskier than assassinating a pedophile.
But after driving for about ten minutes, Jim pulled over and shut off the engine. He had to think. Something didn't feel right. Taking the bunched up note out of his shirt pocket, he( very carefully ) smoothed it out on top of the centre console, between the seats. For a few seconds he just stared at the note, mouthing the words to himself. Then Jim stared a bit harder. Rubbing his still sleep-tired eyes, it hit him. The handwriting...it was the handwriting! In his panicked haste, Jim's distraught mind wasn't even thinking about that part of the note. Just the haunting words. Linda. It couldn't be, could it? Why now? Why this? It's been almost six years and not a word from her. There's no way Linda would pull a stunt like this.....or would she? Was she capable?
Jim thought back. He thought the divorce had been amicable enough. Maybe not, on second thought. Linda had asked for nothing, wanted nothing. Not even their daughter, Kylie. The girl was barely four, when Linda walked out of their lives. Jim now recalled the day the divorce papers were signed...Linda seemed okay with it all; like a burden had just been lifted from her shoulders. But as she walked out of the courthouse, Jim further recalls her parting words; "You'll never know when or where but you'll know why." Damn! What did it mean? Sure, he and Linda had fought while they were married, but nothing serious enough to warrant this...this...nightmare come true! Or is it?
Meanwhile, 600 miles away, a young girl sits quietly in the back of a Greyhound bus, heading southwest. She's perhaps ten years old, has auburn hair and blue-green eyes and appears to be travelling alone. And she is just a bit nervous. After all, she hasn't seen her mother in a long time; barely remembers her at all. After a while, the bus pulls over to take on more passengers and let others off. While the driver is stowing the baggage underneath, the new-comers are getting settled in. One of them(a kindly older man; at least from outside appearances ), sits just across from the young girl. He's in his early '70's. Looking at the girl, he offers up a, "Howdy ma'am, travellin' far?", with a slight smile. Somewhat apprehensive, the girl's barely audible reply is, "I'm not sure..." "Well then," replied the man, "looks like that makes two of us!", as he let out a small laugh. "What's your name, kiddo? Mine's 'Morley' but most folks just call me 'Gramps'." Opening up a little more, the girl replied, "My name is...."
Linda paced the hotel room. She knew every inch of it. Ten paces from the door to the window. Stop. Look at the panorama that was Las Vegas. It sparkled back at her, but she didn't even see it any more. Turn. Eight paces from the window to the mirror. A brief glance at the anxious lines that had appeared in seemingly every corner of her face over the last few weeks. Turn.
The sound of Stretch using his key card stopped her. He came in quickly, but without stealth. She noticed he didn't even glance back, this time. He smiled. "The package is on its way, baby."
She didn't return the smile. The lines around her mouth deepened. "I still think we could have found a better way," she snapped. Her voice was thin as a wire. "How can you be so sure what Jim is going to do? It's been six years. He could be a complete mental case by now. He could have taken a gun to the first person to cross his tracks, for chrissakes. I don't like it, Stretch."
His smile widened, and a tinge of mockery came into his voice. "That's right Linda. Six years. And you left the kid with him, all that time, not a care in the world. But now you worry about Datillo's sanity? I told you. I've got a guy there. I've got a guy waiting at the next stop. Jesus, Linda, I've got a guy right there on the god damn bus with her.
I've told you this before, but I'll tell you one more time to see if it penetrates that pretty skull of yours. Datillo's sharp. Just because he took a bullet and had to retire doesn't mean he's gotten duller. We had to leave a trail that he could find, and follow. Because while he's busy doing that, he won't be calling anyone else, see? He always preferred to work on his own if he could. Trust me."
Stretch flipped the key card onto the nightstand with a practiced gesture, and turned away from her. His tall frame filled the doorway. "I'm gonna take a shower. Call down for some dinner, will you? Lobster, eh? I feel like celebrating a little."
Linda sank down on the corner of the bed, her head in her hands. She still wasn't convinced. She had no real fears for the girl. She knew most of Stretch's men, and none of them would harm her. But she also knew it wasn't going to be that easy, trapping Big Jim Datillo.
Big Jim Datillo. Yep, that's me. A cop in a long, long line of cops. Like my father, Marv, and his father before him, and his father before him going as far back as any Datillo can remember. Being a cop was all I'd ever wanted. And I was good. Damn good. It was in my blood. In my DNA.
All that ended 7 years ago when that bullet obliterated my shoulder during a bank robbery. To this day, I can still remember the coppery taste of my blood as it splattered my mouth in tandem with shrieking, shredding pain. After that, my right arm never worked the same. Even with extensive rehab. Not reliable...render your partner defenseless in a back up situation...disability...medical retirement...retrain...desk job. Words. Just words. How can invisible vibrations destroy a man's world? Send him scampering into a bottle...whimpering and crying like a baby? Shit. I'll admit it. It was more than one bottle. I had a friggin' closet full of them.
Pills for the shoulder pain...they were the beginning. Vicodin. Norco. Oxycontin. Long after my shoulder healed, I found a reason to use them and found people to sell what the doctors didn't give me. Liquid Oxy. Morphine: suckers, pills and patches. I had them all. I used them all. I used them to numb my brain. Then came the alcohol and cocaine. It seems that things "do" go better with coke. It makes the pills go better. I created a first class, A1, self-medication program worthy of any professional pill jockey. Yeah, numb and blacked out...that's what feels good. Now, being in the real world, that's painful and ugly. The real world cost me my life and my wife.
Linda. Linda Martelli was a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Hell, let's face it, Linda was pretty much the wrong everything. Wrong religion. She's Italian and Catholic and if I were any more WASP, I'd have a stinger. Wrong political affiliations. Datillo's are Republicans. Martelli's are Democrats. She came from a poor, uncultured family. The Martelli's had a reputation for being thief's, robbers and bookies. Education? Drop out. Left school when she was 16 to work at the local bowling alley restaurant. Had to. She had to pay the rent and take care of her alcoholic mother. She had never known her father. The story goes that her mother had been bedded by an older man who left her when she turned up underage and pregnant. There had always been talk that her father was connected to the mob. No one new for sure except her mother and she wasn't talkin.' Couldn't. Most of the time you could find her passed out and slobbering on the table of some local bar.
Christ, Linda and I had sure been something good...once upon a time. We'd gone to grade school together but, we'd never been friends. She kept to herself, kinda quiet like, but real pretty. I got to know her during my junior year of high school. Pops had made detective and started spending a lot of time working cases late into the night.
Me and Pops. Life for me was lonely after mom was killed in that car crash. I guess it was for Pops too. We didn't really have any family other than the guys on the force. They took me under their wing and looked out for me as best they could. They helped fill in the gaps when Pops had to pick up those extra hours. After school, I would drop by the precinct house and they'd help me with my homework. They got me working out with them in the gym. They raised me from runt to ripped.
They were brothers. Comrades. But they rarely had time to feed me so I'd taken to stopping by the Bowl for dinner. They had great food in the restaurant and, best of all, I got to visit with Linda. After she served my dinner, she would talk to me while she cleaned in between taking care of her other customers. Eventually, I began to wait for her shift to end and walk her home. She lived in a crappy neighborhood and her mother was never home. There was never anyone to watch out for her. Besides, I liked having a friend and the fact that this friend was female and pretty, counted a lot in her favor. I got to know her real well over that year.
No one came to see me graduate. Pops had to work. Early that morning, he woke me up and gave me the watch that his father had given him when he'd graduated. He told me how proud he was of me. When I walked up to get my diploma, I couldn't help but imagine that my mom was in that crowd of people, silently cheering for me as I flipped my tassel to the other side. While all the other kids were out partying, I went to the Bowl to celebrate with a chocolate shake and Linda. As I sat down and ordered, she was happy and giddy and telling me how excited she was for me. Neither one of us mentioned the fact that she should have been graduating too. Somewhat shyly, she reached below the counter and lifted up a beautiful, golden crusted, baked apple pie. She'd made it for me, she said, because she knew how much I loved it and how much it reminded me of mom. She warmed up the pie, put it into two bowls, topped it with quickly melting, vanilla ice cream and took her break. We ate in sweet silence.
On the walk home, she held my hand. On the porch, the summer breeze whipped the cinnamon and vanilla out of her hair. She looked up at me from her five foot nothin' view point...and I was lost. Pulling her to me, our lips met, first tender and awkward, then hungry and selfish. Taking what we each wanted. Giving. Taking. Sharing. Moving. Moving to her bed. We lie together, her mahogany hair spilling like waves over my pale, WASP skin. Her Bambi brown eyes locked onto mine. Her bronze skin, burnished gold, in the full moon light casting through the window, shivered at my touch. Breast to chest. Loin to loin. Rising. Falling. Mixing. Molding. Melding in the smoldering undulation of this ancient primal dance of lust, she took me into her with a spreading invitation. I accepted. We rode the swells of pleasure til they sprayed against the shore. Receding--like our loneliness--for that moment.
One month later, tears in her eyes, she tells me of the baby. Two months later, we marry in a quiet ceremony. Just the two of us. Pops showed up just as we were signing the papers. He took us to dinner at Omar's Steak House. Later, we heard that her mom had bought a round for the house at the bar where she was drinking. Pops let us move into my bedroom at his house. I started the Police Academy the same week Kylie was born. She had my eyes and hair color. She had Linda's olive skin and smile.
I graduated top in my class from the Academy. We bought a house and moved out on our own after I was hired on at the department. Hell, our marriage wasn't perfect. No one's is, right? But we'd loved each other. Being sued for divorce was a surprise to me. It shouldn't have been. All the signs were there. If I hadn't been blind drunk and stoned, I probably would have seen it coming. Linda said she couldn't watch me live like this anymore. Said it reminded her too much of her mother.
I wish I could say that I stopped using when she left me. I wish I could say I stepped up to the plate with Kylie and became the parent she deserved. If wishes were dollars, I'd be a billionaire. Instead, I'm spending thousands of dollars poppin' a billion pills. It was Pops who stepped up and hit the homer. He took early retirement from the force. He started his own detective agency so he could take care of Kylie. For that, I'll always be grateful.
My Gran Pops. I love him. I miss him, Kylie thinks as she looks over at the man sitting across the aisle of the bus. He reminds me of my Gran Pops, even though he's a bit older. I can't ever remember being away from him. We have fun together. We always play games. When I was really little, he would lay a few of my toys on the floor and ask me to look at them. After a bit, he would hide them in the box and ask me to name them. Over time, the number of toys he laid out increased. I got to where I could easily remember 20 to 30 things. Our games always ended with us eating ice cream.
When I was old enough to walk for a while, he would take me to work with him. When I could read, we would work puzzles and word games together. I loved finding the secret words, solving the puzzles, and figuring out the little codes he made up for me. We would play "Spy." He would point out someone and let me watch them for a bit and then ask me to describe what I remembered. One of my favorite games was called "Follow." The point was for us to stay close to the person we were following, but not close enough to be seen. When I got older still, we would dress in costumes and play "Chase the Rabbit." Sometimes he would even let me chase the rabbit and he would chase me. And when the game was over and we would sit down to eat our ice cream, Gran Pops would always tell me that this was "our" little secret. That I was a chip off the ol' block and that father didn't need to know, he had enough on his mind. I sure do miss my Gran Pops.
So, last night, I saw and heard those men outside my bedroom window long before they saw me. I saw the short man give the tall man a package which he tucked into the pocket of his leather jacket. I heard them say they wanted to take me to my mother. I barely remember her. But I know that she smells like apple pie and ice cream 'cause that's what my father says. And that's how she smelled when she made us that for our birthdays. Yeah, I want to see my mother. So I climbed back into my bed again and pretended to be asleep when the short man came into my room. He woke me up, gestured for me to stay quiet, and asked me if I wanted to see my mother. Acting scared, I nodded "yes." Quickly, he help me get a few clothes. He said it would be a long trip and grabbed a couple of books, my portable DVD player and a couple of DVDs. And we slipped quietly back out the window and walked down the road a ways to a car that was waiting.
The car took us to the bus depot. The tall man got my stuff and helped me find a seat on the bus across from a man a little older than Gran Pops. The tall man says something quietly to the older man and takes his jacket off and hands it to him. Before he leaves, he whispers in my ear that if I am good and stay with this man, I'll get taken to my mother. The older man asks me if I'm traveling far. He asks me my name and tells me that his is "Morley" and that most folks call him "Gramps."
I must have fallen asleep for a little while even though I was trying to stay awake. It's light outside now. Shivering, I tell Morley that I'm cold and ask if I can sit next to him. Moving me across the aisle, he lay his jacket over me. I ask him when I will see my mom because it seems to be taking a long time to reach her. He tells me it will be quite a while yet and puts a DVD into my player for me. I like this movie. Hotel for Dogs is one of my favorites and it's nice to have something to do. I'd like to have a dog someday.
Finally! The bus is slowing. The driver tells us we'll stop for a breakfast break. He says to be back in 40 minutes and that the bus will not wait. I saw him leave a man at the last stop. He means it. Morley tells me to stay put while he goes into the truck stop. He asks me if I want something to eat and I sure do. I'm getting hungry! I just hope he gets me something kids like. I watch him until the door of the restaurant closes.
I'd begun to think he was never going to leave me alone. I keep one eye on the door. Feeling around in the pocket of Morley's leather jacket for the package, I pull it out. The package is a flat, cardboard envelope. Carefully, I lift the tab of the envelope and tip out its contents. It is a silver disk. CD? DVD? I quickly eject the one I am watching and slip in this new one. For what seems like forever, the screen is black. Just as I start to take the disk out thinking that it is blank, 1's and 0's start scrolling down the screen. I don't know what it means. It doesn't make sense. I check out the window for Morley. Oh, shoot! He's coming back! Quickly ejecting the disk, I put it back in the envelope and get it back in his jacket pocket just as he steps into the bus.
Morley gives me half of his turkey sandwich and shares his bag of chips. Feeling full and sleepy again, I snuggle up to him. He lets me lean against him and tells me I'll be with my mother soon. I may not know what all of those 1's and 0's mean, I think, but I do know that they are some kind of code. Just as I am about to fall asleep, I look up at Morley, real sad like, and ask him if I can call him Gramps, because he reminds me of my Gran Pops. I want him to like me. I want to see my mom. I don't want him to hurt me. And even though I know that my sad look is an act, the tears I feel stinging my eyes are real. I DO miss my Gran Pops!
Big Jim awoke with a start! How long have I been asleep? It's getting dark. All of the apprehension and anxiety from before returns as I remember the note and Kylie. Kylie! I have less than four hours to find someone to kill. Someone's death earns me the chance to learn what I need to do to save my daughter. I have to make that decision quickly. Should I commit a random murder? Take out someone I know who is ill? Make a kill in the name of vigilante justice? God knows...I know plenty of scum bags who deserve to die. If Linda wrote this note, how will she know that I've actually done what she requires of me? For that matter, how will anyone know? Shit! I have a closet full of pills. What if I just took myself out? Lord knows, I've already thought about it many, many times. That'd teach the bitch, once and for all, not to f**k with Big Jim Datillo!
Story and Character Key
Jim Datillo aka Big Jim Datillo: approx. 28 years old, smart, sharp, likes to work alone, auburn hair, blue-green eyes, ripped bod, addict: pills, booze, cocaine, morphine, mentally unstable, ex-cop, retired 7 years ago with an on the job disability, divorced from Linda Martelli 6 years ago--she split and he hasn't seen her since, they had one child together, of whom he has custody: Kylie (Kylie calls him "father"), lives in upstate New York on a large, isolated piece of property, calls his mother: "mom"-she was killed in a car crash when he was young, calls his father: "Pops," Pops raised him--no other family around, drives a truck, has a rifle, found Kylie missing on a summer morning, ransom note left stating he had to kill someone by midnight in order to find out what else he had to do to save Kylie.
Linda Martelli: Approx. 28 years old, Jim's ex-wife--divorced (amicabbly as far as we know)and left him 6 years ago--her parting words were "You'll never know when or where, but you'll know why, Kylie's mother, Marv's ex-daughter-in-law, her mother (who doesn't have a name yet) is an alcoholic, we don't know about any of her other family execpt they are thieves, robbers, and bookies, Kylie calls her "Mother," hasn't seen or contacted her daughter in 6 years, wanted nothing in divorce, possibly wrote ransom note, wanted nothing in divorce-not even her daughter, knows it's not going to be easy to trap Big Jim, Irish Catholic, from the wrong side of the tracks, mahogany colored hair, bronzy olive skin, nice smile, pretty, knows Stretch somehow, smelled like vanilla and cinnamon when she was young.
Kylie: auburn hair, blue-green eyes, was around 4 when Linda left, is 10 now, lives with her father (Big Jim) and Gran Pops (Marv), Marv is raising, doesn't spend much time with her father, riding south west in a Greyhound bus, abducted (knowingly) by a short man and a tall man, riding on bus with an older man around 70 who goes by "Morley" and "Gramps," is very observant.
Marv: approx. 55, goes by "Pops," "Gran Pops," father to Big Jim, grandfather to Kylie, father-in-law to Linda, a cop who made detective, retired and started his own agency so he could take care of Kylie, his granddaughter, likes ice cream, has trained his granddaughter to be sleuthy and observant.
Stretch: is somehow associated with Linda in Las Vegas, tall, likes lobster and showers, not stealthy, has "men" working for him, knows Big Jim is smart, purposely left a trail for him to follow, knows Jim likes to work alone.
Short Man: Helped abduct Kylie, he went into her room and snuck her out, gave the tall man a package, one of Stretch's men.
Tall Man: Helped abduct Kylie, took package from short man, put it in leather jacket, put Kylie on bus with Morley, gave Morley jacket one of Stretch's men.
Morley aka Gramps: Riding south west on Greyhound bus with Kylie, takes leather jacket from tall man, apparently one of Stretch's men, about 70.
Linda's mom: pregnant and underage with Linda, has never divulged father's name, comes from a family of thievs, robbers, bookies, alcoholic, has some income because she can buy a round of drinks for the house.
Linda's dad: Unknown.
Other cops on the force: worked with Marv, helped raise Big Jim.
Code: 1's and zeros: binary code