Monday, October 6, 2008

My eyes began to open; a slight chill ran down my spine, my back is sore. As I look around where am I, something is amiss, how did I get here? Slowly, painfully I sit up and take in my surroundings; I am on a beach, covered in sand. I look around; there is no one around. Confused and still groggy, I stand up. I try to stretch to get my muscles to move. I think to myself , “how did I get here”?
The last thing I remember was driving down a long stretch of highway to go to Josie’s Cafe to meet up with Josie and the girls. We were going to go sightseeing with a group from book club. We had read this book and wanted to see the sights in the tiny historic town.
There were to be six of us going, but Marly came down with the flu, and said she just could not go. We met at Josie's Cafe, every Thursday. Josie was going with us, she fixed us all breakfast (The Josie's Choice). We parked our cars in the back; I was the designated driver, because I had the Van. We all piled in, laughing over a stupid joke Kathy had told us over breakfast. Kathy is the comedian of our group. She comes up with the corniest jokes, most are dumb, but they always seems to crack us all up.
I started to move slowly down the beach, trying to clear my head. I know we had a few drinks, but everything is still very fuzzy. My Van is nowhere in sight, in fact I don't see any roads or trails or anything. “Where the hell, am I”? I cannot see anything for miles, but beach, rocks and a few trees. I keep moving, knowing I have to come up to something soon. I try to remember what happened.
Shaneka is trying to read the map, she tells me to go north on US Highway 24, we make the turn and begin the 220-mile trip. Jill lays her head back takes a deep breath and says;
“Man if I had not gotten away this weekend I would have lost my mind. Rudy has been a bear to live with, he comes home every night drunk and feeling sorry for himself. I have just about had it. I think come Monday I am going to my lawyer and start the divorce. I have given that man so many chances and all I get is kicked in the teeth.”

Josie replies, "Good for you, I know it’s hard, When Sam and I broke up, it tore me up. I had tried to be what he wanted, but I guess he needed to be free. I still love him, but at least the pressure is off and I can move on."

Almost in unison we all jumped in saying “Men! You can’t live with them, and you can't live without them".
I had many thoughts running through my head as I was driving down 24, I could hear the girls laughing and talking about all their problems, occasionally I would add a few words, but spent most of the drive thinking to myself. I had a deep inner struggle within my heart that seemed to consume me. How can I go on, I have to find a way, this trip with the girl’s may be just what I need.
I have reached a little opening in the trees; the sun is hot so the shade will be a welcome retreat. I need to sit down and try to clear my head, and figure out where I am, how I got here and where the hell is the rest of the group. I hear something running, I get up and walk a few feet behind a large rock, there in the distance I see a waterfall and a small stream. I am parched and it looks very enticing. For what seems like miles, I move toward the stream. As I reach the end of my goal, I fall on the green patch of grass and bury my head in the cool water. After drinking my fill, I glance around and observe my surroundings. To the right there is a small group of trees, to the left a group of very rugged rocks. I think to myself, “I wish knew my trees.”
The grassy patch I am on is no bigger than my living room back home. I sit quietly to reflect again on what must have happened last night. My head is still foggy, and nothing seems to becoming through. Are my friends hurt (god maybe worse)? I have to get this figured out. What seemed to be miles, and hour’s passed. My head is so full of memories, in the background Josie says, "Hey girls, it’s 2:00 pm and I’m starving, anyone for lunch?”

Kathy asks Shaneka to look and see where the next town is so we can stop for a late lunch. Shaneka said there should be one coming up within the next mile. She said “It has a very strange name.” Jill asked, “What is the name?” Shaneka seems to be just glaring at the map. Shaneka said “It is called Over The Edge.” We all laughed, as it seemed a very strange name.
As we approached the tiny town, it seemed to be very quiet. There was a small gas station, and a cafe within. We all got out of the car and stretched as we had been in the car for almost 2 hours.

Josie said, “Man my bones are getting old".

Shaneka answered, “Mine too. Girls, we need to find a fountain of youth.” Jill replied, “Yea and I am the first one in!” We laughed and walked into the cafe. There was no one in there, and the waitress seemed very strange as she approached our table.

She said with an accent, "Yer not from round dees part, are ye?”

Kathy answered, “No, we’re just on a trip to ‘Cape Yorbough’". The waitress handed us some very worn menus and asked what we wanted to drink. After giving her our drink orders we glanced over our menu. We all seem to agree on just a burger and fries. The conversation was light and easy as we ate.
The bell over the door dinged, and in unison we all looked over to see who was coming in. A man with a ragged old baseball hat came through the door. The waitress nodded at him and he sat down at the counter. She seemed to know him and they were in a deep discussion, when he turned and looked over at us. He had a grim expression on face as he stared at us.

Jill said, “Man he is creepy. Why is he staring at us?,

Shaneka exclaimed, “Maybe he just wants your body!”

“You’re sooo funny”, commented Jill dryly.

We all laughed about that one.

The waitress came over, laid the ticket on the table, and asked if we needed a refill, in her broken English. We replied to her question and she left to refill our glasses. After bringing the drinks back to the table, she said thanks for stopping in, have a good trip and walked over to the counter..The man got up walked over the payphone and made a call. He seemed to be in a very heated conversation, when all of a sudden he yelled "I will be damned if I will do that again!" and slammed the receiver down. He rushed out the front door and slammed it behind him. The waitress seemed nervous and walked to the back of the cafe. We saw her through the kitchen door talking frantically to the cook. Both seemed very upset, yelling at each other.
We could not make out what it all was about and thought it time to leave. Jill grabbed the ticket and said, “This one is on me.” She went to the counter to pay. The waitress came out seeming very nervous and upset took the money, rang it up and handed Jill the change. Jill asked her if she was okay. The waitress warned her to go and take her friends and get out of here as quickly as she could. Jill being the one who always asked how and why did so. The waitress said, "That's all I got to say" and walked back to the kitchen.

We all got into the van and Shaneka said, "What the hell was that all about?"
We all said yea that was strange. Kathy asked how the gas was doing and I said we should go ahead and fill up, as we may have a ways to go before the next station. I pulled around to the pump and Josie got out and put the gas in. I walked into the small station and paid for it. The young man behind the counter said strangely, "Yerr better bes on you way ladies before it is to late."

I asked, “what does that mean”? He just shrugged his shoulders, handed me my change and stated. “never mind.” I walked out very confused. I told the girls what the station attendant said and we all agreed it best to get out of "Dodge" sort of speak. Josie stated, “We best find a detour coming back. I don’t know about you guys, but I don't want to stop in that strange town again.” We all laughed and agreed.

Chapter 2

Josie was waking up from the anesthesia; Jill looking on had taken the second watch, as Shaneka was looking so exhausted. It had been a very long 48 hours since they were all picked up by the police after the accident.

Jill could still hear the squeal of the tires from the oncoming moving van. She shuttered at the lights as Cassandra swerved to the right to try to miss the oncoming vehicle, going down over the steep hill into a small ravine. The airbags deployed, something came through the window and she blacked out. When she awoke she was lying on the ground, Shaneka to her left and Kathy to her right. She began to move slowly over and shook Kathy who also was beginning to stir. As the two of them were trying to clear their heads, Shaneka began to moan, “My head is killing me, what happened?”

The three of us began looking around for Cassandra and Josie. We found Josie still in the van, her head was bleeding on the right side and she seemed to be unconscious. We tried to open the door, but it was jammed. Shaneka felt her pulse and yelled, “she’s alive, we got to get her out.” Kathy hollered, “Anyone seen Cassandra”? The three of them began to look for her. I looked back at the van and noticed the driver's door was torn off, like someone had ripped it from its hinges, but did not see Cassandra. They searched around the surrounding area to no avail. Cassandra was nowhere in sight.

Jill with tears in her eyes, the memory still so fresh in her mind, played the whole seen still in her thoughts, “Where are you Cassandra? Kathy, Shaneka and I searched all over for you.”
Shaneka climbed to the top of the ravine and flagged down an oncoming car. After that it was all a blur, the police, the ambulance, the search, the questions, oh my god the questions.
Josie began to open her eyes.
As she moved her head and looked at me, my heart dropped. I know she is going to want to know what happened and I don't have all the answers. Jill asked, “Where am I?”

I take a moment and reply, “You’re in Danka County Hospital. There was an accident and you were hurt pretty bad. You just came out of surgery, They had to go in and put a pin in your right arm as you shattered it when you were pressed against the door. They had to use the Jaws of Life to get you out. You also have a minor concussion. The doctor said you will be fine.”

That seem to satisfy her for now as she drifted back to sleep.
Just at that moment Kathy walked in.

How is she doing? She woke up yet.”

Yes, just a few minutes ago. I told her where she was and a shortened version of the accident.” Kathy said, “The police have not found any trace of Cassandra. Sgt. Draskel said it is the strangest thing he has ever seen. He said they found some trace of a body being drug for about 50 feet then nothing at all. He said they found the driver door about 10 feet below the ravine and it did show signs of someone ripping it from its hinges. They found no blood or sign that Cassandra has any visible signs of injury.”

Kathy pulled up a chair and sat down close to Josie’s bed. Tears slowly begun to fall from her eyes. “What are we going to do? This whole thing just don’t make any sense. Sgt. Draskel said the time between accident and when they found us was less then an hour. How could she disappear with us right there? Why didn’t one of us hear something? Questions just keep running through my head”.
I put my hand on her shoulder, as I could see she was ready to lose it. “Kathy we are going to find her and Josie is going to be OK . We have to believe that. I know how you feel. You and Cassandra go back a long time. We have got to be strong and pull together on this.”
“Yea I know but it is so hard not knowing.”
“I agree that is not knowing what happened is the hardest.”
We sat in silence for the next few minutes, each with our own pain and confusion.

Shaneka walked in and had Marly with her. Marly with tears in her eyes went over to Josie’s bed put her hand on her forehead to brush the hair from her face. Marly still looked very weak from the flu she had been fighting.
“Jill, Rudy called and said there was an accident and that Josie was in the hospital and Cassandra missing. I told Jim I had to go. He didn’t want me driving that far alone. He knew I would go anyway so he took a few days off and drove me down here. He is out in the waiting room, wanted me to come in first. Met Shaneka in the elevator on the way up here. She has filled me in on everything up until now.”
Kathy walked over and gave Marly a hug, told her she was glad she came. She asked her, “how are you feeling?”
Marly answered. “Still weak, but better.”
I suggested we all go down and get some coffee, and we can talk so that Josie can rest . We all walked out, met Jim, and went down to the café.
Jim asked how Josie was doing. The conversation was tense and no one seemed to have any answers. We talked about what had went on just before the accident. Shaneka told Marly how we all had stopped in for lunch in that strange town Over the Edge for lunch. She told how the waitress reacted when that man was there. The conversation he had on the phone, the warning the waitress and gas attendant gave. She told Marly how we had to tell the police the whole story too.
Marly replied “Do you think that had something to do with Cassandra’s disappearance?”
“We don’t know. It just seemed so strange and then the accident. We had driven several miles away from there, and stopped at the convenience store. Cassy grabbed a six pack of Bud. We drank it before we left. I mean we each had one. Cassy did drink the second one. I know she was not drunk. We were driving along and a Moving Van pulled out to pass a car in a no passing zone and she had no choice but get out of his way. We all agreed on that.”

Jim stated, “I would like to go down to where it happened and take a look around.” He just wanted to see if he could come up with anything more.
We told him the car had been pulled out and the police are searching through it to find any clues.
We all went back up to see Josie, she was awake and seemed fairly alert. The nurse had rolled her bed up so she was sitting . Each of us gave her a hug and conversation was light.
Then she asked the question, no one wanted to answer. “Where is Cassy”?

I took the plunge and slowly filled her in on what happened. I could see the tears forming and knew how she felt.
“Jill we have to find her, she is the leader of our gang. We are not the same without her. She has helped me so much with running Josie’s I don’t think I can do it without her.”
Kathy interrupted Josie, “We are not going to give up! We have to stick together and we will find her. You just get better and then we can go from there.”
“Yea gal don’t give up so easy. You know what Cassy would tell you? ‘Brush it off and keep rolling.’” We all laughed at that, knowing that was one of Cassy’s favorite sayings.

Chapter 3

I am so hungry, and it seems I haven’t eaten in weeks. I have to find a way out of here. The water is cool and good to drink. I need to find some kind of shelter. It looks like a storm is brewing. God help me my feet are aching so bad. I have walked all over this area. I guess I will have to go back to that strange cave to get out of this oncoming storm.
This cave is so damp and dreary, but I ‘m so exhausted that I could even sleep on this damp ground.
As I opened my eyes, I feel something wrapped around me. I can’t see, it is so dark in here. Wait, it is a blanket, how did this get here. I must be dreaming, as I lay my head back down and dozed back off.
I woke up, stretched my arms as the warm blanket fell to my side. I sat straight up trying to take in my surroundings. My head began to clear. I realized where I was and what had been happening in the last 30 hours.
I looked at my watch and saw it was 7:00 am. Then again I was puzzled, where did that blanket come from and how did it get over me in my sleep? Is there someone else on this beach? Who could it be?
I stood up from where I was and a pleasant odor filled my nose. As I turn around I saw some fruit and berries in a basket on a rock just above where I had slept. Starving I reached up and grab some, and began to eat. Who left this for me? Why don’t they show themselves? What is going on?
After eating my fill, I went out of the cave to take a look around. The sun was shining so bright it almost hurt my eyes. I feel better from eating, though I still can’t figure out how the food and blanket got there. Someone else had to be around here close. I am going to look around and see if I can find them. They maybe able to help me get back to my friends where ever that may be.
I follow the beach until I come to some cliffs, and find nowhere else to go. I try to climb up them hoping to get a better view of where I am. These damn sandals are not for climbing that is for sure. I go as high as I can to look around and realize this must be an island. How the hell did I get on an island when I was driving a van?
This has got to be a nightmare and I am going to wake up! This island is very small and I continue to explore it. It can’t be more than a few miles in any one direction. The sun is at its peak now and I am exhausted from my adventures. I go back to the stream, drink my fill and crash under a tree.
Feeling a cool breeze across my face, I woke up to see sun beginning to go down. Looked at my watch, it was going on 8:00 pm. Wow did I sleep that long? My stomach began to growl for the only food I had was back at the cave. I sit up thinking there must be more fruit and berries around here. As I stood up there was the basket that had been in the cave again filled with fruit and berries. At that moment, I didn’t question it and ate my fill.
The sun was just about to set. It was breathtaking as it seemed to become one with the water. It was as though Heaven and Earth had became one. The beauty of it sent shivers down my spine. I was so caught up in the magnificent sight I lost all sense of time or space. Never before in my life had nature seemed so powerful. It swept me away from any thoughts of what happened or where I was.
As the sun became lost to the sea, the moon found its way to light up the night with the most brilliant glare. The stars were twinkling like diamonds sparkling in the night. I have never seen such brilliance, it was moment of total peace within. I watched a falling star and knew it was the grand finale one seeks, but few will find. With that, I slept.
Morning came with warmth and renewed strength. I had never slept under the stars before and the experience was unbelievable. I took a deep breath as the sun rose its beauty was breathtaking to behold.
Again the basket was filled with goodies. This was becoming extremely strange and I knew it was time to get some answers. I can’t go on like this. Yet for some unknown reason I was very calm. It is as though I should be here, but that in itself is very strange. Why do I feel like this is somewhere I have been before? Yet I know I have not! How could I? I was never on any kind of boat or ship to even go to any kind of an island. I am very confused.
I walk up the stream a bit and remove my tattered blouse and torn jeans and jump in the water. Wow, the water is cold, but after a bit my body becomes accustomed to it. I swim around for some time and as I get out I feel a slight chill, walk over to were my clothes were lain. In their place is a brand new outfit, jeans, blouse and even underclothing. They were exactly my size. My old clothes were no where to be found. I grab the clothes and put them on feeling someone is watching every move I make.
Now I began to tremble with fear. Maybe I was kidnapped and brought here? That has to be it! How else would I get to this island? There is some one else here, they are not showing themselves. What do they want of me and what did they do to my friends? The tears began to fall like the pouring rain.
I yelled out, “What do you want of me? Who are you? Why am I here? Please answer me.”
I continued the cries with only the echo of my words bouncing back at me.
I walked around in circles it seemed for hours until again my body gave out and sleep overtook me.
When I woke up the sun was already high in the sky, it’s warmth engulfed me. I had fallen asleep right on the beach. I sat up the sand covering my arms and legs like a blanket. I turned to look behind me and there was the basket of fruits and berries. As I pulled the basket toward me and took a small bunch of red berries out I noticed something at the bottom of the basket. There was a very small box that seemed very old and tattered. I gently opened the box, as my curiosity was taking over. The contents of the box puzzled me for there was a picture of a man and woman holding each other on (wait it looks just like the stream from this island.), it is the stream. Who are these people? Wait a minute there is something else at the bottom. It is a gold necklace with half of a heart. Where did this come from? Who put it in this basket and what are they trying to tell me?

Chapter 4

Shaneka yelled, “Come in here! The news is starting!”
“I will be there in a minute,” yelled Josie.
Josie sat down in the rocker by the fireplace. They were both glued to the set.
“Good Evening, this is Sandy Warner with KSSR TV Channel 4 with the latest on the Disappearance of Cassandra Wells. This story seems to be taken on more questions than answers.
Sgt Roy Draskel stated today that every lead seems to come to a dead end. He told us they are interviewing several people of interest in the tiny town of Over The Edge. He said the waitress at the café told him the girls did stop in and have something to eat, paid and left. They are still looking for the Moving Van Driver that was going the wrong way on highway 24. The FBI is also looking for the man who came in the café. The waitress claims she has no idea who he is.
Josie Robbinson has been released from the Danka County Hospital yesterday. She is fair condition.
Stay tuned to the eleven o’clock news for a personal interview with her and her friends. If anyone has any information on the this case or the disappearance of Cassandra Wells call this number 555-555-7790
We will be right back, this is Sandy Warner for KSSR TV Channel 4.”

Shaneka said, “what are we going to do? “
“ I was so nervous when they talked to me. I hope someone out there knows something and calls in.” replied Josie. “this is killing all of us.”
How can such a fun trip turn into such a nightmare. Who could possibly want to hurt Cassy? She doesn’t have any family since her mom died a few years ago. I remember when she first came in my café, she and her mom came and ordered something to eat. She seemed to be such a sad young woman. I asked her if she was ok and she looked up at me and said, ‘My dad was just killed in a car accident and we are here to make the arrangements for his funeral services.’
I remember how cold she was when she was telling me such a personal part of her life. I did not ask any further questions and thought, when she left I would never see her again.”
“Remember, Shaneka, how a few weeks later we heard the Crawford Place was sold and we both laughed wondering who would take on that old shack?”

“Yea I remember. I always thought they would tear it down.
I can see her like it was yesterday, when she came back in and asked if she could use my phone, to call a plumper because she had broken a pipe in the basement and it was a mess. I thought to myself then which was messier the basement or Cassy.”

They both laughed at the memory of Cassy soaked from head to toe.
“She sure put a lot of work in that old place. She and her mom worked about a month or so before they both could live in it. You would never know what a shack it had been. Josie remember her open house?”
“Yea it was the talk of the town, there must have been 50 people there. It never took Cassy long to get a bunch together did it?”
Shaneka nodded and leaned back took a deep breath, stared at the TV but not really watching it.
Josie watched her, and knew just what she was feeling. They all had been such good friends, but without Cassy they all seemed to be lost. As Shaneka dozed off, Josie got up and walked to the medicine cabinet to take her pain medication as her arm seemed to be giving her quite a bit of trouble today. She knew she had been up too long trying help the girls get the posters ready to place around tomorrow.

She covered Shaneka with a blanket, not wanting to wake her. She shut the TV off and went upstairs to the spare room to get some sleep. Tomorrow they would all be meeting to distribute the posters around the town. She crawled in to bed and the tears let loose with no way to stopped them. “Cassy where are you? We will not give up on you girl for nothing.” After what seemed an eternity Josie fell in to a deep sleep.

Shaneka woke up first realized she had fallen asleep on the couch. She got up went into the kitchen to make some coffee. The other girls would be over a 8:00 to meet and work on the posters. They would have the coffee and Josie’s homemade cinnamon rolls. Josie was still asleep when Kathy and Marly knocked on the door. They all were sitting around the table talking when Jill walked in.
“Where is Josie?” Jill inquired as she helped herself to the coffee.
“She had a bad night we didn’t get to bed till rather late, actually I don’t even know when she went up to bed. She is taking this thing so hard. I know she needs her rest but she won’t give up.”
Kathy added, “Well then just let her sleep. You girls go ahead and when Josie gets up I bring her with me. Let’s meet, say 10:30 at Josie’s Café.”
They all agreed as they finished their rolls and coffee.

Jill, Marly and Shaneka took off in Marly’s car to start the poster deliveries. Josie came downstairs and saw Kathy sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. She saw the other three cups and realized the girls had been there and gone. “Why didn’t someone wake me up?
Kathy answered calmly,
“we all know you have not been sleeping well, since you got out of the hospital and just wanted to let you rest.”
Kathy got up and poured cup of coffee for Josie, brought it to the table and sat down across from her.
While Josie was drinking her coffee, Kathy cleared the table and put the rest of the rolls away.
“I told the girls we would meet them over at your café at 10:30 so we have a few minutes. If you don’t feel up to going that is OK.”

“I have to do something, if I sit here one more day, I’m going to go crazy. I can’t go back to work for a couple more days, but I can at least be there to pass out the posters as the volunteers come in to get them. I have the maps and will keep track of where the posters need to go.”
Kathy knew better than to argue with her, she knew it would be better if Josie were involved in the search in at least some capacity.

When Kathy drove up to the Café, there were so many people coming and going it seemed like Grand Central Station. Sgt Draskel was inside helping to coordinate the search parties. Shaneka was passing out the posters with Cassy’s most recent photo. Jill was behind the counter making more coffee and helping Maggie with breakfast orders. Josie’s Café never seemed so busy. It was heartwarming to see how many people came out to help in the search.

Josie walked over to the booth closest to the front counter where Jill was passing out posters. She gave Josie the list of areas that had already been taken. Josie took out the map and began to mark them off. As more people came up she would give them an area that was not marked off. The time seemed to fly by as they all worked together. Through it all their minds never stopped wondering what happened.

It had been a week and still no word on what happened to Cassy. The Police said that if she was kidnapped for ransom, they should have received a ransom note by now. Josie went on the air and pleaded for her safe return. Since Cassy’s mom had died there were no other relatives to do it.
Josie told them that Cassy was just like a sister to her and would do anything to get news that she was OK.

Jill came into the café the next day to help out by waiting on tables, so Josie could take a few more days off to recover. There was still a lot of people who were helping out with the search. Maggie looked exhausted from the day before as she worked a double. She told Jill she would do what it took to help Josie out. She has enough to worry about and this is the least I can do.

Jill agreed saying
“Yea Josie needs to get back on her feet before taking over running the café again. I will work today, because it is my day off and Marly will help out this weekend.”

Shaneka walked in and sat up at the counter, Maggie poured her a cup of coffee and asked if she was hungry.
“No, I just don’t seem to eat much since the accident. I stayed over at Josie’s last night. She still having trouble with her cast as it seems the itching is driving her crazy. She goes to the Doctor tomorrow I hope they can do something to help, She supposed to have it on at least another three weeks.” All she talks about is coming back to work. It will be very hard for her just to do the paperwork, ordering and such since she is such a hands on worker.”

Jill came over sat down by Shaneka and said “Well I started the divorce today, I told Rudy to move out and be gone when I get home. The first few days he seemed OK and very helpful, but he is back to drinking again. I can’t deal with any more stress. I plan on keeping busy helping out here on my days off. It is the best I can do. I do not want to sit and home and think that’s for sure.”

Shaneka agreed and said she will help out when she could too. This is our second home anyway. Both girls nodded knowing the Thursday night Book Club would be on hold until Cassy was home safe.

Chapter 5

It is so easy to lose track of time, I have been on this island now going on two weeks. I don’t seem to be any closer to the answer, than when I first got here. I have been all over this island, and can’t seem to find the source of the fruit. I have concluded it is not growing on this island.
Yet every night the basket is filled. There has even been some potatoes, carrots left in the basket the last two mornings. They seemed to have been home grown.

I have tried staying awake to see who is bringing the items. While I am watching the basket I never see anyone. Once I even tried to stay awake almost 24 hours hoping to catch the person. The food then was placed on the other side of the island. Whoever is doing this watches every move I make and is always one step ahead of me each time.

Strangely, through it all I am very calm, why, I don’t know. I have a feeling whoever is keeping me here is not out to harm me. I seem to worry more about my friends than myself. I hope they are alright. I pray each night that they are safe. I know they must be going crazy not knowing where I am.

Everyday I take the little worn box out to look at the picture and necklace. This has to be a clue! What does it mean? Who are these two people in the picture? Questions! No Answers!

I am keeping track of the time and date from my watch. We left on Thursday, the 7thh of August and today is the 20th. I know that they must be searching for me by now. How will they ever find me? I don’t even know where this island is or how I got here. For all I know, I could be in another country or out in the middle of the ocean somewhere.

When I thought things couldn’t get any stranger one morning when I woke up there was a newspaper clipping folded and put in the bottom of the basket.
I took it out and as I read my heart stood still.

“Cassandra Wells is still Missing.

The police have not received any ransom notes and the leads all seems to be dead ends. Her Five friends have offered a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the whereabouts of their friend. Josie Robbins told reporters that her friend was the best friend anyone could ask for. She doesn’t have an enemies in the world. I don’t know anyone who knew Cassy would not like her. She is using her café as headquarters for the search effort. She is doing all of this with the use of just one arm as her right arm is still in a cast from injury sustained in the mysterious accident that lead to the disappearance of Cassandra Wells. If anyone has any information contact the Haskel County Police Department.”

I read the article three times, comforted to know that they were all OK. I was glad that Josie’s injury wasn’t that bad, but felt responsible in someway. I knew I had to take the ditch or things could have been worse.
I felt some kind of hope at least I knew then there was a search in place for me. Then it hit me, why was this clip put in the basket. Did the person who is keeping me here want me to know my friends were OK or that they were looking for me. What do they want and why am I still here. I have no money to pay for a ransom and neither does my friends. I can’t even imagine where they came up with the $10,000 reward money.

When am I going to find out who is doing this? I keep going back to the picture and the necklace. I wrack my brain trying to put the pieces together. Is the person holding me one of the people on the picture? Each day and night go by with more questions and no answers.

I spend most of the day by the stream. I swim in the mornings as it is to hot in the afternoon. My day consists of exploring the island for clues to where I am. The quiet is very comforting in its own way.
When the night begins to fall I quiver at the sunsets as each one seems more magnificent than the one before. I only sleep in the cave when it is raining or storming. I sleep most nights right under the stars on the grassy knoll by the stream. The small waterfall is like music to my ears as it falls into the stream. The water is so clear you can see the bottom. If I was not so worried about all the questions and lack of answers I could just stay here alone on this island forever. The peace I have found on this island is something I have never known.

I have always wanted to join girl scouts when I was young. We always seemed to be on the move. Dad could never keep a job and was very restless type person. He seemed to love Mom, but their relationship always seemed strained. I was never allowed to go any where without them. They told me it was because they worried about me. They were very protective parents. Joining girl scouts meant I would have to be away from them.
I always wanted friends, but never lived in one place long enough to make any. That is why when I moved to Plattsville and met Josie and the girls it was so important to me. Having true friends for the first time in my 27 years was a blessing. It was great having the book club every Tuesday night. We didn’t even care what the book was about. We could make even the dullest book worth having treats and coffee over. We would laugh and talk. Tell each other what our week was like.

It has been 7 years since Dad died, he lost his fight with lung cancer. At age 52. He seemed to look so old and sad just before he died. I remember the last time I saw him he was so upset. He held my hand and told me to take care of Mom. “ Everything I ever did right or wrong was for her. I hope someday you will truly know how much your being in our lives has made what we did worth it.” He looked up at the ceiling of the hospital room and the last words out of his mouth were, “God Forgive, me please.”
I remember asking Mom what did Dad mean. She looked at me with her sad eyes and said. “Cassy we are only humans, and we made some terrible choices in our life. We have to live with them, and only God knows the reason we made them”.

I was so confused, but I felt it was none of my business, as mom seemed to change the subject and didn’t wish to explain any further. I tried several times in the next few years to find out what it was all about. She never would answer a straight question.
She told me that it was a private matter and asked that I not keep bothering her with it. I respected her wishes and it was never brought again until the day that she died.

She was so happy when we bought the old Crawford Place. It was in such shambles, but we worked together and fixed it up. We never worked harder at anything in our lives. She had her little sewing room and made the curtains for every window in the house. Mom always had a talent for sewing. She used to make all my clothes. She made sure they were in style and put so much time into them.
“Cassy this is the first real home I have ever had. Please let’s never move again.”

“Mom I promise this will be our last move. I have had all the moving in my life I need too. That seemed to please her. The next two years were the happiest I had ever seen my mom.”
I still remember the day mom died, she came down with Flu. It turned into pneumonia and it just got worse. I went into her room and sat by her bed, my tears were coming down, she was so important to me. She opened her eyes and saw me sitting there.
She said to me
“Cassy there is something that your Dad & I never told you. We have had to keep it from you, when I am gone there will be a letter that will be sent to you”
She took a long breath, and the next thing she said has puzzled me ever since.
“Her name is Rebecca Hallman. Tell her I am sorry and please forgive me”
With those words out mom fell into a coma and later that night died.
That was what was on my mind, to the point I couldn’t think anymore. So when Josie’s suggested we take this trip to Cape Yorbough it just seemed to be the best way to put this all behind me for just a few days, anyway.

Part II

Rawlins sat very frustrated at his desk, newspaper clippings sprawled all across it. He had his television on the news hoping to hear something that would ease his troubled mind. He knew this thing was going to eat him alive if he didn’t get a hold of it. Wondering how to deal with Harry when he saw him was another thing that seem to fry his nerves.

While in deep thought the front door bell rang. He heard his housekeeper let someone in and tell them Mr. Parker is in his office. He waited as the door knob turned and Jake walked in.

“Hey, Mr. Parker we know where Harry is held up, do you want us to go an pick him up and bring him here, or deal with him ourselves. We could take care of it nice and clean if you want”

Rawlins answered impatiently “No, I’ll deal with him myself! Take him to the warehouse in Clarksville make sure he doesn’t talk to anyone before you get him there. I’ll meet up with you tomorrow night.”

“It’s your call, boss, we will have him there by 8:00 tomorrow night. You want the others to meet you there to?”

“Yes, and tell them to come at different times so as not to cause any attention. We need to make some plans, and figure out how to go about finding Rebecca before it is too late. I want this thing taken care of before someone else starts putting the pieces together. We can’t take any chances here.”

“I‘m with you there, this thing could blow up in our faces if we don’t take care of it. Harry will be the first one who needs a good lesson in that? I’ll make sure the boys are there by 8:00”

“Now get out of here before Sherry gets home, I don’t want her to know you were here. She gets upset when you and the boys hang around here. I don’t need her to be asking any questions, that is for sure.”

“Yea, you’re right there, we’ll see you tomorrow night. I will call the boys and give them your instructions. I’ll let myself out, call you when we pick Harry up.” Jake left quickly out the back door to the patio and around to his car. Rawlins watched him from the office window. He knew they all had to stick together to get through this or there would be hell to pay.

Rawlins worked half the night going through the articles, to see if he could make any sense of what happen. He knew they had it planned right down to the last detail. Now they would have to get more people involved. He knew that Rebecca could be his down fall. Finding her will be our first priority, then they can concentrate on the girl.

Jake pulled up in his drive, there on the porch with a drink in hand was Bart. Jake knew that Bart was as nervous as a scared cat. He was the only one of the group that always felt uneasy about what happened. He could easily be the dangerous one, because he was the only one with a conscious. The only thing good about it was the fact he was there when it happened and knows he would be in as much trouble as the rest of them.

As Jake got out of his car, and walked toward the front porch. Bart asked nervously, “what did Rawlins have to say, he want us to work Harry over or what?”

Jake replied
“No, he wants to deal with him on his own. We got go tonight and grab him out of that hotel. Rawlins wants us to drag his butt over to the warehouse.”.

“What’s he going to do? I mean Harry really screwed up this time. He was lucky Rawlins didn’t do him in the first time he messed up. I wouldn’t want to face the boss if I were the one that messed this plan up. Two times in the last 26 years. Man, he will be lucky to see the light of day when Rawlins is though with him.”

Jake nodded,
“I have never seen Rawlins so mad in my life. He will put the hammer on Harry, and any of us if we don’t fix this mess. You and I will pick Harry up and head over to the warehouse and the other two boys will meet us there at 8:00.”

Jake and Bart spent the next two hours, drinking and plotting how to get Harry out without causing any scene. They both had been watching his every movement for the past few days and knew just about the time they could grab him.

Rawlins heard Sherry pull up in the drive, he quickly gathered all the newspaper articles and shoved them in his lower desk draw. He locked it and sat back waiting as he knew she would come straight into the office.

“You must live in this darn place, you were in here early this morning when I left for work. These last two months your nose is in that computer and you seem to live on that phone. What up with you lately, hon.?”

I’m trying to get through these contracts, so we can take that trip we have been planning. I can’t leave this account unfinished. You know you will want my full attention when we go, right?”

She could never stay mad at him long, and went over and gave him a hug, saying “well it better be worth the wait, that is all I got to say” She walked out of the room laughing, like she always does. God how he loves that woman. He knew if she ever found out what he and the boys did those many years ago, he would lose the best thing that ever happened to him.

“Damn you Harry, why can’t you get anything right. I gave you a chance to make up for the first screw up and look where you put us now. You are going pay for this one I promise you that.” With that Rawlins shut down his lap top and turned out the light.

As he climbed the stairs to bed, knowing his lovely Sherry would be waiting for him, was the only comfort he was going to see for quite some time. He opened the bedroom door, saw her sitting up reading, took a deep breath, smelling her sweet perfume. As she looked out over her book at him smilingsweetly, knew this was what he needed to sooth his tangled mind.

Chapter 2

Harry went into his hotel room, threw the newspaper on the bed and went in to take a shower. His nerves were shot. He knew Rawlins would come after him. As he was showering, trying to think how was he going to get enough money to get away.

He didn’t hear the door open. Getting out of the shower and wrapping the towel around him, went into the room to get dressed for bed. Man, he was beat, this new construction job was taking it’s toll. He hadn’t been sleeping well since the accident. His mind was wandering as he walked over to the bed, when something hit him over the head. He fell face first down on the bed.

Bart knew he hit him pretty hard and he would be out for a while. Jake and Bart put his clothes on as best they could. They tied him up and taped his mouth, in case he would wake up. They looked to see if the coast was clear, then drug him to the Van.

Jake said
“You get his keys? I think they were in his pants pocket.”

“Yea I got them, I’ll drive the Van and you follow with your car.”

They put Harry in the back of the Van, closed it up and Jake said,

“Ok, but give me a minute to gather his stuff out of the room. I don’t think he will be coming back here.
” Laughed Jake.

It was about an hours drive from the Motel to the warehouse outside of Clarksville. Bart could hear Harry started to come to. He knew they had him tied up good and tight. Bart wasn’t crazy about what was going to happen at this meeting. He knew that Rawlins was capable of anything. He turned the radio on so as not to hear the pounding going on in the back of the van.

Twins Rork and Dirk, were the first to arrive at the warehouse. They had the keys to get in as they both worked for Rawlins Trucking Company. The warehouse was where they stored the equipment they used to work on the fifteen Semi trucks. Both Rork and Dirk had were the main mechanic’s for Rawlins. Dirk loved working on the big rigs. He had been doing it longer than his brother. Rork used to be a driver but since he had his back surgery, could not take the long trips, anymore. He had always help Dirk work on the trucks when he could, then just started doing it full time.

They went in and turned the lights on in the office. Dirk jumped up and sat on the desk as his brother sat down in one of the chairs by the coffee pot. He then looked out the window and said
“Rork what do you think all this is going to lead. I just wished this would all stay behind us. How long are we going to have to keep this secret?”

Rork answered with a bit of sarcasm
“till hell freezes over, I don’t know about bro but I don’t want to go to jail” I have had enough problems with losing Karen and the kids, along with the back problems. I have had enough losing in my life. I know Rawlins will take care of it.”

“I sure hope so, this could come back and haunt all of us. God we were just kids, we didn’t know which way to go. If Rawlins wasn’t there to cover for us we would all been in big trouble. He has always taken care of us. Remember how he paid my way though school. He even helped Harry with his Moving Business. We owe him big time.”

“Yea your right, he helped pay for my back surgery and paid my bills while I was off work those eight weeks. He gave us this job and has always been there to make sure we were taken care of. He has been like big brother ever since that fateful night.”

They saw the headlights of the moving van pull up by the big door, Rork pushed the button to open the Big Rig door. The van pulled in and Jake’s car right behind it. The door shut.

Rork asked where Harry was, and Bart told him in the back of the van. The four boys went into the office to wait for Rawlins. They just left Harry tied up in the van until Rawlins got here. It was a quarter to 8:00 and they all knew Rawlins wouldn’t be late. No one seemed to have anything more to say as they knew this could be a long night. The next few minutes the tension in the room was thick enough to cut with a knife.

Right on time Rawlins pulled up outside the big garage door in his brand new silver porch. He sat in his car waiting for the door to open. Rork pulled the lever to open the door. Rawlins pulled in very quickly and Rork shut the door.

They all watched out the window to see Rawlins get out of the small car. He was a big man about 6ft 6 broad shoulders, he had a deep tan. He was use too girls taken a second look at him, He had dark blonde hair and had a touch of a beard beginning around his chin. His eyes were as blue as the sky, but had a touch of evil in them. He was a man to be reckoned with.

He opened the door of the office and the boys stepped back to give him room to enter. He walked straight to his desk chair and took a seat. The room was in a dead silence waiting for him to speak.

With words like cutting like a sword he asked;
“Where is Harry”?

Jake took a step up and answered weakly;
“He is tied up in the back of the van”.

Rawlins order they bring him in now. When he spoke to them in that voice they didn’t question, just obeyed. Jake and Bart went out to get Harry. Bart opened the back of the van, saw Harry looking at him with a fear of God in him.

He knew that this meeting could prove to be a disaster. He fully understood what Rawlins was capable of. He has seen how Rawlins handle those that disobey his orders. He would have to do some fancy talking to get through this.

Jake yanked on Harry’s feet pulled him out of the van. Rork grabbed one side while Jake had the other. They pushed him through the office door, so hard he nearly lost his footing. His hands still tied Jake threw him down in the chair that it made the chair nearly tip. He told him with a smile:
“Sit down and you better not try anything or I will beat you to death buddy”

Rawlins sat quietly observing the scene with blank cold eyes. The room became so quiet you could hear their hearts beating in rhythm. All knew this was going to be a heated conversation.

Rork reach over an yanked the duck tape off Harry’s mouth so hard and fast his whole mouth and cheeks were blood red. Harry made a small grunt, but never said a word.

Rawlins sat back a smirk on his face, put his hands behind his head, leaned back and just starred at Harry for what seemed like hours. He never said a word for quite a while. Making the tension in the room so heavy no one could hardly breath.

Then with a low heavy voice came the words vibrating across the room like a jack hammer tearing up concrete.

“What the hell did you think you would gain, trying to run and hide from me? You think I wouldn’t go to the ends of the earth to find you, man? Then all I can say is your dumber than you look. I have given you a chance to make up for the first stupid mistake you made. I will not allow you or anyone to screw this up for me. I don’t need cops nosing around my business and your screw up they start asking questions. Do you understand boy! I won’t put up with it ! What do you have to say for yourself”?

Harry knew the words out of his mouth better be good or he was a dead man. This was going to be the hardest thing he has ever done. There was no choice but tell the truth and hope he would have a chance to make up for his mistake. He took a deep breath and began his explanation:
“I did what you told me to do, I followed them to the café and went in to make sure she was with them. I sat up at the counter. Sue tried to change my mind, we argued and then I went over and made the call to Jake. He wanted me to do something to the brakes, I said I wouldn’t do that. The other girls are not involved.

I went out to follow through with the original plan, took my car around back and got the Moving Van. I drove up about a mile and waited. Young Sam gave me a call as soon as they were gassed up and leaving. I then started back toward the café.

When I saw their car I pulled over in their lane causing them to swerve right and take the ravine. I pulled over walked over where they went down. I put the mask on went down to do as you told me.
I thought everything was as planned. I went down the ravine, I checked the car she was the one driving but when I got to the driver side the door had been ripped off and she was gone. I saw a trail where she was drug, I follow it, when I got to the river it just ended. It didn’t make any sense.

I went back checked on the other girls, they were all out cold. I pulled the three in the back out laid them on the grass. I couldn’t get the fourth girl out of the front seat as she was pinned and the door jammed. She was bleeding at the forehead, but I checked she was still alive. None of them saw me.

Other than the door ripped off its hinges there was no damage on the drivers side. There was no way that door came off if she tried to open it. I mean Rawlins it was ripped off as if someone used some kind of tool to get it off. I stayed as long as I could but I knew I had to get out of there before some one saw me, or before the cops would arrive. What else could I have done? Some one took her away from there!”

Rawlins took his fist and hit the desk with such force it vibrated the whole room. The other boys in the room shuttered with fear at what was going to happen next. Rawlins face so red with anger yelled out with bitterness saying;
“Alright if that is what happened why didn’t you call me right then and tell me? I had to find this out on TV. Why the hell did you run and hide. I might have had a chance to figure this out. Instead I spent these last few weeks trying to track you down. I don’t like chasing runts like you. Now we all have to figure out where she is and find her.
I need to first find Rebecca before she gets scared and started talking. She knows way to much for my blood. I have taken care of Sue, her mouth is shut or she knows the consequences. She knows what I am capable of and so should you”

Harry came back with a quick response; Oh Sue will do as you say. She won’t do anything that would hurt her brother. Sgt. Draskel will keep me informed if the police find any evidence of her where she is. He is in charge of her disappearance and will let us know before it hits the air. We will have first chance to get her. You have trusted him in the past and he will come through again”

With no sympathy Rawlins stated;
“He better, his job would be in jeopardy along with his life. Now I want you to go with Jake and you better come up with something soon, Harry, my patients is running thin. You try anything and Jake knows what to do. They have completely dismantled the moving van. The word is the other girls have told about the van and about the man who came into the café. Sue has put them off for now.
I think it is only a matter of time until they start putting the pieces together. Your job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. Keep in mind I will take care of any lose ends. Understand Boy, no matter what I have to do. My operations here is to great to lose over a punk like you”

With that Rawlins motioned to Jake to get him out of here. He gave orders to Bart and Rork to start the search for Rebecca, he had a few leads for them to start with. As they all began to leave, He tapped Dirk on the should and said:
“You stay here, I need to talk to you.”

After the other were gone Dirk to a seat across from Rawlins, waiting to see what he wanted. He was the one that dealt with a lot of Rawlins underground business. Dirk liked the extra money and the excitement that went with it. His brother knew he did special favors for Rawlins, but never wanted to be party to that part of Rawlins business.

Rawlins began explaining to Dirk that his shipment from Mexico was coming in two days and wanted him to make sure all went off without a hitch. He stood up and looked out the window, and with a deep concern in his voice stated:
“There is 30 in this bunch, 12 grown men, 10 women with eight children. I need them to be healthy I lost over half of the last bunch. I only get paid for the ones that can work. I lost a bundle on the last shipment, it won’t happen again. Your to pick up Doc and head out to the ranch. He will examine them, If any are not in good health, I don’t want any. I am finished and Raul can take them back.

This is my last shipment of illegals, I am going back to the drug market, it is faster and far more profitable. If Raul give you any trouble take care of him and send the rest packing. You
got that!

With a quick nod, Dirk knew just what was expected and planned to carry out the orders swiftly. He knew this could be messy and Rawlins didn’t need any trouble right now. He walked out the door to carry out his orders.

Chapter 3