Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California
“Eric,” said Robin, “Why don’t you show the Chief the view out on the patio?”
Accordingly, Eric led the Chief through the living room to the small flagstone patio. “Have a seat over here, Chief.”
“Heavens! What a spectacular view. I can see the whole length of the Oakland Bay Bridge,” exclaimed the Chief.
“Wait until you see it at night,” said Eric. “In the winter I sit here on a foggy night and wait for the lights to come on over the city below and on the bridge. That’s something special to see as well.”
Robin came out to the patio with a tray of hot apple cider in large mugs. Cinnamon sticks swirling in the hot cider created a warm spicy aroma. “Who would have thought that this tiny spot could have such a big view, eh?” said Robin. Her silvery hair sparkled in the sunlight as she placed napkins and coasters on the table.
“This is delicious,” said the Chief, and his eyebrows lifted in affirmation as he nodded his head. “This is just what I needed. Thank you, Robin.”
“You’re welcome, Greg. Listen, you guys rest and I’ll go make some sandwiches.”
“The fog is starting to roll in now,” said Eric.
The Chief scanned the horizon, “Yep, that’s quite a thick fog bank out there.” He stretched, “Man, I’m getting tired and I still have so much paperwork to do down at the fire station. Right now, I just don’t want to move.”
Eric nodded in agreement, sipped his apple cider, and stared out at the small sailboats and large freighters moving along in the Pacific Ocean. It’s awesome, he thought, that in just a day and a half, he had met Haley and become enraptured with her. What was it about her that fascinated him? What was it that made her different from the other girls he had met? He remembered watching her the night before when she conversed and comforted several families in the hospital waiting rooms. As he assisted the nursing staff with the overflow of incoming patients, he had overheard her kind words of encouragement for an elderly grandfather who broke his leg. He later saw how she helped a young little girl dry her tears from a fall and become a smiling girl full of giggles, ready to see the doctor. In his mind, Haley had unique characteristics. He had always been attracted to this kind of person. Add to that the similarities from their backgrounds where they had both lost their parents when they were young, they definitely had more feelings in common that didn’t need to be spoken aloud.
Haley had just begun to sharing her aspirations for more humanitarian work through her employer’s projects. She had said that as the Administrative Assistant to the District Manager of E. I. DuPont deNemours, Inc., there were plenty of opportunities ahead of her. However, at that moment, Commander James Stetson of the SFPD had interrupted them.
Eric felt the tenseness in his arm when he thought about how Stetson had tried to persuade Haley to accept a ride home from the hospital with him. Then when Eric visually recalled how Stetson’s arm had shot outward and blocked Haley from getting closer to Mrs. Johnson’s bedside in ICU, he pounded his fist on the arm of his chair.
“Are you all right?” asked the Chief? “You worried about Haley and the girls?”
“Yeah sure,” Eric said and he started pounding his right fist into his other hand, “That S.O.B. just walked right into Mrs. Johnson’s room and tried to order everyone around. Did I tell you about how he put out his arm to block Haley from Mrs. Johnson’s bedside? That creep was so wrapped up in the authority of his position, he ended up hurting Haley across the chest.”
“No,” said the Chief in disbelief. “So that’s what caused you two to slug each other?”
“Yeah, that’s right. I was doing okay but then I had help from the orderlies, too,” said Eric. “Chief,” and Eric stopped to laugh. “You should have been there to see how these guys enjoyed pounding Stetson. You would have loved it. They were smiling when they pulled that bull away from me. They hated his guts.” Eric rubbed the knuckles of his right hand. “All three orderlies were laughing so hard when they came back on to the ICU. I overheard one of them say that when they released Stetson from the elevator and into the lobby, the Chief of Police had Stetson pulled over and he disposed the riot act on the creep and then demoted him! Stetson is no longer in charge of the Serial Killer investigations. Too bad Haley and the girls didn’t know this before they took off. I’m sure the memory of his harassments still frightens them. Now, they’re fleeing from the creep and the Serial Killer.
“And what’s more,” added the Chief, “The girls don’t know that two little girls and their mother were also murdered in the same building they lived in.”
“Right. That and the fact they are homeless now, just makes me so frustrated. I can’t do anything to help them. I don’t know where they are, or where they might be headed,” said Eric.
“Eric, stop what you’re doing with your eyebrows. You look like a fiend from the movies,” said the Chief. “Everything will work out.”
“One of them must be pretty special,” said Robin as she approached the table with a large bowl of potato salad and a tray of sandwiches “Take your pick, guys. I made roast beef, ham and cheese, and egg salad sandwiches.”
“Thanks Aunt Robin. All of this looks delicious,” said Eric. He leaned back and said, “Her name is Haley, Aunt Robin. She lives, or did live with her roommate, Jeanne, and they both have a friend named Krista who is with them practically all the time when they are not at work. But right now, their apartment has been so thoroughly vandalized, they’re homeless.”
“I’m concerned for them, too,” said the Chief. “An elderly woman was found with her throat slit in Krista’s apartment. With a serial killer still roaming in the neighborhood, and mobs of angry people wanting justice, more trouble is brewing and spreading all over this city.”
“I wish I knew where they were, and if they are safe. I don’t understand why they haven’t called yet. They had to leave their apartment so fast, all they had was what they were wearing and what money they had in their purses. On a weekday, that couldn’t have been very much,” said Eric. “Girls usually just take enough money in their purses for lunch and bus fare on the weekdays. On the weekends when they shop down on Market Street, they are usually loaded with cash.”
“That’s a good observation,” said Robin as she sat down on a chaise lounge to eat her roast beef sandwich.
“Your van wasn’t there when we got outside, Eric. Their own car has flat tires. They must’ve driven out of town. I think they were more scared than what showed,” said the Chief. “Do you know what I mean?” he added.
“Yeah, I do,” said Eric as he shifted in his chair still chewing on a sandwich. “They’re going to experience a delayed action when they finally settle down for the night. All of them were so busy running from danger…” Eric did not finish his sentence aloud but his mind kept on going. “Well Haley seems the strong one,” said the Chief. She’s taken everything in stride and still has the capability to take care of the other two.”
“I just can’t figure out why they didn’t come here,” said Eric. He rubbed his forehead.
“There’s probably a good reason for it,” said the Chief. “Maybe they decided to go to some other relatives’ home. None of them know Robin. Maybe that’s what changed their minds.”
“Yeah, that might be, but then they have my van. You would think they would call here and leave a message. They know I would need my car to get to work. Haley’s the responsible type, she’d want to contact me right away,” said Eric.
“That’s just it. Haley and the girls haven’t settled down yet. Give them a few more hours, Eric. Then if you don’t’ hear from her, our friend, Detective Fontino could put out an APB and find them.”
“An APB will let the creep and his cohorts know what’s happening. We have to keep it low profile. Just you and me for now.” Crooked furrows came back on his forehead.
“I’m hanging in here with you, Eric,” said the Chief. “Whatever you need.”