Lois caught her breath. This was bad. These men could have potentially followed Julie and Johnny to her house. They could even be sitting outside right now, waiting for their chance to attack.
“Have you gone to the police?” Lois asked, hoping that at least law enforcement was involved at this point.
“Yes, right after they first contacted me. I was afraid of what they might do to us, so I went to the police,” Julie nodded emphatically. “The police asked a lot of questions, but said there was nothing they could do at that point. I had only received a threatening phone call. There was nothing they could do with that alone. And I didn’t know where Tony was or what he was involved in.”
“Well, they can certainly do something now,” Lois said gravely. “These men are in your home, threatening you. We must tell the police.”
“But…” Julie started, then looked down at her hands sheepishly. “I am afraid if we bring the police in, then Tony might get into trouble. I don’t know what he owes these people money for. I don’t even know if what he was doing was legal. What if he goes to jail because I went to the police? I don’t know if I could live with myself if that happened.”
Lois reached her frail-looking, wrinkled hand across and rested it on Julie’s arm. Julie was surprised with how strong that hand felt. Not only was it warm and comforting, but there was a firm resolution implied in its strength.
“Julie, what happens with Tony is yet to be seen, but right now you must think of Johnny. You must protect him. I am sure that Tony will want you to protect his son at all cost, no matter what the outcome is with himself.”
Julie nodded, with tears running down her face. Then, wiping them away resolutely she said, “Let’s go. Let’s get these men out of my house for good.”
About an hour later, the three of them were walking into the downtown precinct. Julie looked quite pale, and Johnny didn’t look much better. He was holding onto his mother’s leg as they walked into the building, darting behind her anytime they approached someone new. It broke Lois’s heart to see the young boy so frightened.
Instinctively, Lois clutched her large handbag close to her chest. Before they had left the house, Lois had pulled a chair over to her closet to unearth her husband’s large handgun. She carefully loaded it and placed it deep in the bottom of her bag. She figured that she most likely wouldn’t be needing it, especially going to the police station, but it made her feel a little more confident as she took the mother and son out her back door and into the separate, dark garage that housed her faded blue 1967 Oldsmobile. Once inside the car, she felt much better. Even if someone was laying in wait for them outside her house, they would have a hard time attacking them now that they were securely within this steel tank of a car.
Lois sat with Johnny in the waiting area of the police station, giving Julie some privacy as she described her situation to a young lieutenant seated at a small desk, overflowing with folders and paperwork. He asked a number of questions, jotting down some notes, then motioned Julie toward the waiting room. Lois was pleased to see by his face that he was taking Julie’s case seriously. He immediately picked up his phone and started making several calls.
“They are going to the apartment to check it out,” Julie said in a low voice. She still looked pale, with wide, frightened eyes, and her hands were compulsively smoothing down the front of her skirt. “He said that we should wait here while they go to the apartment.”
Lois nodded her approval. Soon this would be all over.
About thirty minutes later the same lieutenant came over to where they were sitting.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but there was no one there at your apartment. It did look, however, like it was forcefully broken into. The front door jam is broken and, unless you typically live with all your drawers and closets turned inside out, it appears they did a pretty thorough search of the residence. Our men are still at the scene investigating. I recommend you go to your friend’s house and stay there until we contact you with any information.”
He looked imploringly at Julie, but she seemed to wither more into herself and couldn’t give a response.
“Thank you, Officer,” Lois offered, standing up firmly. “I think that would be for the best. We appreciate all that you are doing for us.”
“If you think of anything that could help us out with the investigation, please don’t hesitate to call,” he said, looking to Julie and then pointedly to Lois. The lieutenant gave a grim smile to Johnny and ruffled his hair as he turned and walked away.
“Well, there’s no reason to be sitting here in these terrible chairs. I didn’t think my back could take it much longer anyway,” Lois said, reaching her hand down to Johnny. “Let’s go and make us some lunch. Something tells me that a big bowl of chicken soup would do a lot of good right now.” On seeing Johnny’s face light up hungrily, she added, “And a few cookies wouldn’t hurt, either.”
They all walked across the street to the parking garage that they had parked in, Johnny skipping excitedly ahead. Julie seemed torn between helping the slower older woman as she crossed the street, and keeping up with her boy. She opted to take Lois’s arm and called after her son.
“Hold on, Johnny! Wait for us!” But he was already rounding the corner into the garage. “Johnny!”
Lois chuckled at his boundless energy. “If only I could move that quickly,” she sighed.
“Don’t feel too badly,” Julie said. “I can hardly keep up with him myself.”
“They grow too quickly,” Lois said, shaking her head. “One minute they are small and completely dependant on you, and the next they are gone…” Her voice trailed off as she remembered her own little boy with boundless energy, and the fact that he would never come back.
Suddenly Lois jolted to a stop.
“Henry! We have to save Henry!” her voice nearly broke as she suppressed a sob, and tried to move into the garage as quickly as she could.
Julie followed behind her, confused about the sudden change in Lois’ demeanor. As she rounded the corner, however, her breath caught in her throat and it seemed like the world had suddenly come to an abrupt and terrible stop.
Johnny stood in the center of the garage, a knife angled dangerously against his throat, and his captor sneering at the two women with an ugly grin.