House of V (Unraveled Series) (22 page)

BOOK: House of V (Unraveled Series)
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15

 

June 20, 8:30 a.m
.
Appleton, Wisconsin

 

I walked into the station flanked by
Agent Allen and Sanchez amid the stares of the uniformed police officers and
staff at the building. Despite Sanchez’s wish to keep me out of the station, he
didn’t have a choice in bringing me here to view the video of Sister Josephine.
The decision to use me as an informant had not been a unanimous one across the
department, however I was lucky - I think anyway - that Sanchez had the final
say in the decision. Delaney and James had followed the recommendation of
Sanchez to stay back on this visit.

We entered a room where a flat
screen was hooked up to a laptop. Three officers surrounded the TV while a
fourth was bent over the laptop. They argued and pointed as a woman’s face
remained frozen on the screen. The pang in my stomach radiated as I immediately
recognized the face as Sister Josephine’s. All four officers stopped and turned
to us as we entered the room. The stares had become all too familiar in the
past twenty-four hours. I wasn’t sure if it was because I had a warrant out for
my arrest or because I had killed Holston Parker. I somehow doubted the
head-turning was about the arrest. I longed for the anonymity of Norway.

“Peterson, let’s play it from the
beginning,” Sanchez shot an order to the man bent over the laptop. He nodded
his head and fumbled his fingers along the keyboard. The other three officers
didn’t move.

“How long is it?” Agent Allen
asked.

“Two minutes,” the officer behind
the laptop answered.

“Were you able to pull any prints
off the disc?” Sanchez asked.

“It was crystal clean. I found it
on the front steps of the main entrance to the building,” a female officer
standing next to the TV answered. Her last name was Horton, according to the
nametag on her chest.

“Did you check the surveillance
cameras?” Sanchez asked. “They should have something.”

“They do have something, but that something
didn’t show our suspect,” she replied. “He paid some kid fifty bucks to drop
the disc on the steps.”

“Where’s the kid?” Sanchez asked,
staring at all the officers.

“In the room next
door with his mom.
He’s only twelve,” Horton replied. “He’s pretty
shaken up. The man was wearing a ski mask.”

“And no one saw him wearing a ski
mask in the dead of summer?” Sanchez put his hands on his hips.

The four officers shook their
heads.

“Shit,” Sanchez cursed as he turned
his attention to the TV still not playing the video. “Well, he has to have
Sister Josephine somewhere close to Appleton if he dropped off the video
himself. Where’s the note?”

“Over here.” Horton pointed to a
plastic bag taped on the wall next to the TV.

All three of us moved forward,
reading the note.

The time is ticking, I know she’s
there. Give her up before Sister Josephine has to get hurt.
Evie
Parker will get what she deserves. I’ll solve the problem for you.

Me. I was the problem that needed
solving. If I was dead, no one had to worry about me anymore.

“Why the video
and the note?”
I asked.
“Why not one or the other?”

“Seems like the note might be an
after-thought,” Officer Horton replied. “He just threw it in there to add to
the intensity.”

“Or he’s shaken. Angry that we’re
not finding him,” Sanchez said. “What is he going to do if we don’t find him?
Maybe he’s not willing to carry out his plan. He isn’t exactly giving us many
clues to help us find him. Any prints on the note?”

“Nothing we could find,” Horton
replied. “But there was some residue on the paper that the lab is running right
now.”

“Can I see it?” I asked as I looked
closer at the note inside the bag.

“Anybody have gloves?” Sanchez
asked.


Here.

Horton handed me a pair of plastic gloves from the back of her pocket.

I slipped them on and pulled the
plastic seal apart gingerly. I retrieved the note and studied the handwriting.
The top of the paper was torn just like the other notes. I ran my finger along
the edge before I turned it around carefully. I held it up into the light when
I noticed a small mark on the upper right hand corner that had been
meticulously erased.

“What is this?” I asked pointing to
the paper. I felt Sanchez looking over my shoulder.

“It looks like the letter C,”
Sanchez replied.

“Definitely a C,” Agent Allen
confirmed on the other side of me.

“That’s what I thought. It looks
like it is purposeful. That it was meant to be there,” I said. My voice was
just a whisper now, “The letter C.”

“Get the lab to zoom in on this.
And get the other notes to check the backs of those as well,” Sanchez ordered,
pointing to the note. “We’ll have to determine the significance of that C.”

I placed the note back in the bag
and handed it to one of the officers who left the room with it.
The letter C.
It had no significance in my mind.

As my mind wandered, I looked to
the massive whiteboard next to the TV that had a picture of Sister Josephine
and Father
Haskens
posted on it. Red lines and notes
were plastered around the board. I spotted another picture, this one was of
Holston. It took all of my strength not to pull the picture down and tear it
into a million little pieces. There was a picture of Fred Sullivan’s lifeless
body and picture of the TBK list with his name circled in red. The other names
on the list, not including my own, were written in red marker on the side of
the board with the words “find and warn”. Next to it was the word suspects with
a question mark.

I followed an arrow down to the
edge of the board that contained another picture. I squinted, looking closer to
see that it was a headshot of me. The word “wanted” was next to my face. Being
wanted was really starting to cramp my style. I had never been wanted before
and now that I was, there’d been nothing except trouble. I decided that I
didn’t
want
to be wanted anymore.

“Tactical information,” Sanchez
said as he caught me staring at my picture. “Whoever captured Sister Josephine
wants you instead. We’re just trying to put the pieces together.”

“Sure.” I nodded my head and
focused my attention back on the TV.

As Sister Josephine’s face appeared
in the dim light, the sharp intake of oxygen caught in my throat. The
vulnerability of Sister Josephine so clearly displayed on the screen settled
into the pit of my stomach. She squinted and ducked her head as a light was
shone directly into her eyes. The light settled down, now being aimed on her
body, and she was able to pull up her face.

The camera shook before it regained
focus and steadied on Sister Josephine. She was seated on a log, her arms and
legs bound together with heavy chains. Surrounding her were heavy tree trunks
and foliage. I examined the leaves and ground beneath Sister Josephine’s feet
to see dampness all around her. They were in the woods somewhere, but that
didn’t help us at all. Wisconsin was packed with acres upon acres of
uninhabited forestry.

Her face was sullen and dirty while
her hair hung in small wisps across her face. As the camera zoomed in closer to
her face, I spotted a red streak of blood that ran down the side of her cheek.
He had hurt an innocent woman because of me. I dug my fingernails into my palms
as I moved closer to the screen, staring at Sister Josephine’s amber eyes which
were void of the joy and life that I remembered. They were dull and glazed
over, as if she hadn’t slept in days. She was on day four of being missing.

The room was silent as we all
watched the scene unfold before us. Sister Josephine flinched as a man appeared
next to her wearing a black ski mask and holding a newspaper. He moved the
paper close up to the camera, the Appleton Post Crescent printed clearly across
the front, and pointed to the date on the paper. June 20.
Today’s
date.

“You have one more day to find me,”
he said in a clear and steady voice as he held up one finger. “I want
Evie
Parker in one day. Otherwise...” He paused, stepping
back away from the camera, and dropped the paper to the ground. I narrowed my
eyes, trying to make out the beads dangling from his neck. It was a rosary, one
that I remembered so well. It was Sister Josephine’s rosary.

“…Sister Josephine over here will
be meeting the God she has been praying to for so many years.” He walked over
to Sister Josephine and grabbed a fistful of her hair. She screamed out in
pain, unable to defend herself as she sat bound on the log.

I stepped closer to the screen.
Sanchez’s arm shot out, pressing me lightly against the shoulders, to prevent
me from moving any closer. I wanted to rip the man out of the screen and pummel
him. I needed to meet the man who was responsible for hurting Sister Josephine
- the man who wanted to get revenge on me.

“I want
Evie
Parker.
Alive.
I know she’s back,” he continued. “I’ll
give you one more day to find me,
Evie
. One more day
until Sister Josephine’s blood is on your hands. You have until noon on June 21
to show your face to me. You’ll come to me alone.”

He held one finger out again.


Evie
,
don’t,” Sister Josephine cried out from behind him. “Don’t you come looking for
me.
Don’t you dare put yourself at
risk-

But Sister Josephine was cut short
as the man stepped toward her and struck her face with the back of his hand.
The smacking sound stung in my head as the room around me began to spin. Sister
Josephine cried out again, this time in pain as she hung her head in silence.

“There’s plenty more where that
came from unless you find me,
Evie
. Show me how smart
you really are. I’ll be waiting for you.” His hand reached out to shut off the
camera and the screen went black.

The room was silent.

The rage overcame me and I couldn’t
hold back any longer. “I’ll find you, you sick bastard!” I yelled and pointed
at the empty screen as Sanchez held me back.

Before I knew it, Sanchez shoved me
in a chair that suddenly appeared behind me. He motioned to the officers and
Agent Allen standing around me. “Give us a couple minutes.”

Sanchez grabbed another chair and
sat it directly across from me, just a few feet away. He slid into the chair
and leaned toward me, his elbows against his knees.


Evie
,”
he started.

But I knew where he was going, what
he was going to say to try to cool me down. He was going to tell me that we
were in a good position. That we had one more day to find her and that she was
alive and well. That we would find her no matter what. That he couldn’t have me
blowing up every time something happened. It wasn’t going to work, though. I
couldn’t sit by and watch Sister Josephine get tortured because this guy that I
had no clue or inkling about wanted me.

“I won’t let it happen again,” I
interrupted.

Sanchez shot me a puzzled look. “I
don’t care about that.”

“Then what?
What are you going to tell me that
is
going to make
this better?” I asked. “I can’t sit here when Sister Josephine is in danger.”

“I can’t tell you anything that is
going to make this better,” Sanchez replied. “I can’t tell you that we are going
to find her without a doubt. I can’t tell you that we have any solid leads on
this guy. We have leads, sure, but nothing solid. What we do have, however,
is
you.”

“I’m not going to listen to this
u-rah-rah bullshit,” I said as I moved to get out of the chair. Sanchez pushed
his hand down on my knee, lightly keeping me in the chair.

“I’m not going to give you any
u-rah-rah bullshit,” Sanchez said. “Those are your words. Not mine.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“I know that you signed the
agreement with us to lessen your charges, but I know that had we not offered
you that agreement, that you would be doing the same thing that you are doing
right now. Of course, as long as you
weren’t
behind
bars,” Sanchez said with a smile.

“You would find a way to find
Sister Josephine. It’s who you are and the reason that I wanted you on our
side. You gave up everything - your freedom, your life and whatever else you
had - for Sister Josephine because it was right. Because she needed you,” he
said as his eyes softened. “You did the same for Delaney and Ann. And you would
do it again for anyone else that has garnered that right in your life.”

I nodded my head slowly. He was
right, I would do it again. I would do it for the Jones family. I would do it
for Ryan. I would do it for Sister Josephine.

“Don’t let this bastard get to you.
Whatever reason he has against you, it’s not validated,” Sanchez finished as he
removed his hand from my knee. “I’ve never met someone so determined and
smart
. We’re lucky to have you.”

“Yeah, you are,” I said with a
crooked grin. I exhaled, letting Sanchez’s words sink in as I thought about the
video. “What time did they find the disc on the steps?”

“Well, they called me right away
when they found it. That was around eight-thirty,” he said. “Why?”

“The video was clearly shot this
morning. There was dew on the grass and it was before sunrise,” I said. “Most
daily papers aren’t available for pick up until how early in the morning?
Six maybe?”

“Sounds about
right.”

“That means that he had that paper
before it came out. What time does the press start for the
Post Crescent
?”

BOOK: House of V (Unraveled Series)
10.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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