If you are just joining us, you can read the first post of the interactive story here... Then just scroll up from there. Remember this is a rough draft, and you are asked to answer the question at the end in a comment. Let's get started.
Her life was so frustrating and confusing. She’d been a single mom working three jobs to keep food on the table one day. Then almost the very next day she and her son had been whisked away to a new life, literally, as Helen Dunlop and James Dunlop.
She’d been enrolled in San Diego State University majoring in Business Administration. All expenses paid, and their living expenses also. Her son enrolled in the best after school day care when she had night classes. It was a dream come true.
And the only thing it cost her, her daughter.
There wasn’t a day that passed that she didn’t wonder if she was alive. She no longer let herself think about what she might be going through. And she knew James felt the same way, he’d been so young and confused at the events. As an adult he’d made it his mission to find his sister.
To hell with the consequences.
She stood when she heard the front door only a moment before James stepped through the arch, a brawny man ducked under to follow. His head barely missing the light fixture.
“Mom, this is Spencer Graham.” James gestured toward the visitor.
A large hand reached toward her, Helen was sure he’d break all the bones in her hand. She tentatively put her palm in his, he gave it a gentle pump and then stepped away.
“Have a seat, would you like some tea or coffee?”
God she was babbling, but his size intimidated her and she kept thinking how his looking into Carla’s disappearance wouldn’t go unnoticed. Then they were all doomed.
He sat on her small kitchen chair and for a moment she worried it was going to crash to the floor. Somehow it didn’t even creak.
“No thank you, I’m fine.” He gestured to her, then to James. “Please both of you have seat and tell me exactly what happened the day Carla disappeared.”
“James, you told him her name?” She swallowed and walked to the window to look out over the view of the beach, another benefit of her changed circumstances.
She’d give it all away in a heartbeat to see her baby again.
James laid a hand on her arm, she covered it with her own. He urged her toward the table. Reluctantly she let him, he pulled out a chair for her. She settled her clasped hands on her lap. She’d listen and if she didn’t agree she’d talk to James.
“Ma’am, I know this is hard. But do you really want to live without seeing your daughter again?”
“No, of course not. I pray every night we’ll find her. But the only way we can hope to do that is by accident. A wonderful coincidence. If you start searching…” She looked up from her clasped hands, her plan to listen had flown out the window. “You aren’t exactly nondescript.”
He barked out a laugh, and she swore the windows shook. “That is true. However, sometimes that’s a good thing. If a political figure needs to be investigated, if he doesn’t need a new body guard he most likely needs a cable repair or plumbing professional. You’d be surprised at the contacts I have to make sure he or she needs help in some way.”
She wasn’t sure about that, they’d still notice him. For a moment she considered if she called a plumber and he showed up, would she think he was not exactly who he said he was? No, he was right she wouldn’t.
She sighed. “I’m listening.”
“James has gone over what he remembers of that day. And he’s told me where you lived. He can’t remember the address, I’ll need that….”
“No, absolutely not, if you go snooping around.” She turned her attention to her son. “James you know they’re watching, they’ll hurt Carla or you. They promised if I ever tried to find her she’d be hurt and I’d be sent proof.”
James again laid a calming hand on her arm. “Mom, please. Spencer won’t walk up to the door and knock.”
Spencer held up his hand. “I do most of my research on line. I most likely will never visit Russell County. But I’m hoping by the address to find out how the sale was handled, the company that bought it. I have to find a trail to follow.”
“I’m listening,” she repeated.
“Please go over what you remember.” He pulled out a pen and poised it above a pad for notes.
Helen closed her eyes and let herself travel back to that awful day.
Next post find here...
VOTING IS CLOSED.
And here comes the interactive part. Please answer the question.
When Johnny couldn't find Carla in the house that day.
1. Did he call his mother at work?
2. Did he huddle in his room scared until his mother came home?
3. Did the people responsible for Carla's disappearance arrive at the home before his mother came home?