Friday, August 5, 2011

Chapter 11: Panic

"Too bad the redhead never ended up dead in the train station," Luke stated, breaking the chilling silence and picking up the note from the desk. McKenna refrained from spitting anything back to him about it not being the time to joke. She strode back over to her father and finished untying the cords that tied his body to the chair and his hands together.

Heart pounding and tears beginning to flow harder, McKenna whispered, "Dad...Who did this? How long ago? What happened?"

Luke, Alfonzo, and Jewel stepped closer to the scene, waiting for Ron to give them information as McKenna continued fumbling with the knots.

Ron cleared his throat and said through his bloody lips, "It was nobody."

"You can't tell me this was nobody. You're battered," McKenna replied.

"Kenna, just listen to me. Get your mom on the phone."

She pursed her lips. "I'm not sure she'd talk to you. Let alone believe that you're in the state you're in. Just tell us what happened, Dad." She paused, wiped a tear from her face, then added impatiently, "Please."

"Is your phone on you? Call your mom." He looked at the ground. "I just I can't have you in on any of this."

Jewel chimed in, nose in the air, "We've already brought her 'in on all of this.' She already knows you're a murderer, so if you wouldn't mind telling us who beat us to the punch..."

Luke broke away from the trio and took over the knot-untying. "You know, Jewel," he began, "as far as we're concerned he never murdered anyone. Unless you've been a ghost all these years and just never informed us."

"Let's not discuss immortality right now and try to solve the problem at hand, shall we?" Alfonzo's quiet but forceful voice silenced the two siblings. He stepped toward Ron, crossed his arms, and leaned on the leather seat that was across from the desk. "So the minions turn on the master, eh, Professor?" By this point, Luke had finally loosened the tight knots, and Ron's arms were free. McKenna grabbed the box of tissues from the desk and began wiping the blood from her father's face the best she could.

"Nobody works for me," Ron retorted, his chin lowering toward his chest. In a quiet and shaky voice, he continued. "And I don't work for anyone. Not anymore. Not for years. I teach biology now; full time."

"So who did this?" Alfonzo glanced over the threatening note again. "Matthias?"

As Ron shook his head, McKenna blurted, "I think we should call the police. Right now."

She pulled her phone out of her pocket and every other person in the room simultaneously shouted, "No!"

Luke promptly reached over and snatched the phone out of McKenna's hand before she could pull away. "You can't call the police. This whole thing is bigger than what the police can handle."

"So a few hoodlums running around small towns with paper bags and no direction are going to handle this? This is my dad! Some thugs beat him up!"

Panic mode was setting in hard, and nobody else seemed to grasp the same energy. The gang from the car all stared at her with raised eyebrows and pitiless looks, and Ron sat awkwardly to the side, massaging his sore wrists.

"Look, Ken," McKenna winced at the new nickname Luke decided to use. "I know this isn't anything you planned on dealing with. But we need you. And you're probably even safer with us, at this point. These guys know what we're doing and who we're with; Chances are, they know you're with us. If we call the cops, these people--whoever they are--will just be quicker on their feet."

Ron stood up and walked over to his desk. Before reaching for the phone, he announced, "I have to call Lisa. McKenna's mother. I think she may...I think she might be able to give us some information." Alfonzo nodded and Ron dialed the number.

Nose higher than ever before, Jewel spoke again. "Now what are we going to do? What are we going to do with the serial killer?"

Alfonzo inhaled deeply and replied, "We can't leave him on his own. It gives the others advantage. A chance to have him side with them."

"He can't come with us, though," said Jewel through gritted teeth.

Luke chimed in quietly, "I think he should be where McKenna is. That way, they're both under our watch."

McKenna sat on the floor. Reality kept sinking in deeper and deeper. All she wanted was an answer to a simple question about a simple brown paper bag, and now she was hours from her home and more confused than ever.

"Kenna," her dad's voice blew away her thoughts for a moment. "Your mom isn't answering her phone."

"Is that supposed to mean anything?"

The gang quieted down and listened. Her father, more uncomfortable than ever, mumbled, "I do know the guys who...Who beat me up. I know who they work for. And I think they may have found your mom."

The loudest and most confusing silence rang in McKenna's ears. Everything was piling up and she didn't know what any of it meant. Her mind was starting to give up on trying to comprehend dire situation after dire situation. A few long and confusing moments passed, then Luke finally asked, "Who are they? Who do they work for?"

Ron fidgeted in his seat and wrung his hands. "Chris Gough."

Impatiently, Jewel blurted, "Do you mind telling us who the heck Chris Gough is?"

Ron glanced over at McKenna and then looked down again. Almost inaudibly, McKenna whispered with wide eyes, "Chris Gough is my mom's boyfriend."

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